What is Physical Ecology?

Physical Ecology is the interdisciplinary examination of evolutionary and ecological phenomena across taxa, populations, communities and ecosystems within a physical perspective. It involves the examination of how organisms have:

  1. adapted to the constraints imposed by the physical environment;
  2. adapted to use physical mechanisms to satisfy biological processes;
  3. matched form to function.

Current Research Projects

I am interested in a variety of topics related primarily to marine and freshwater benthic plants (including algae) and invertebrates:

  1. Mass transfer and the ecophysiology of benthic producers and consumers
    • The effects of fluid dynamics on macrophyte photosynthesis.
    • The effect of fluid dynamics on suspension feeding in bivalves.
    • Biophysical aspects of benthic-pelagic coupling.
  2. The physical ecology of reproduction, dispersal, and early life history
    • External fertilization in broadcast-spawning invertebrates.
    • Wind and water pollination.
    • Dispersal and recruitment of macrophytes and benthic invertebrates.
    • Glochidial dispersal and juvenile recruitment in freshwater mussels.
    • Determination of hydraulic habitats of juvenile mussels.
  3. The Physical Ecology of Vegetative Flows
    • Particle capture (including abiotic pollination) in aquatic plants.
    • Physical forcing and hydro-riparian interactions on stream productivity.
    • Pheromone dispersal in vegetated flows.
  4. Conservation and Restoration of Aquatic Ecosystems
    • Identification of host fish and rearing juveniles of endangered unionid mussel.
    • Determination of the role of benthic processes in hypoxia of lakes

Lab and Field Resources

Laboratory Equipment
Field Equipment
  • Acoustic Doppler Velocimeter (Nortek)
  • Constant Temperature Anemometer (NSERCRTI)
  • Digital Particle Imaging Velocimeter (NSERCRTI)
  • Laser Induced Fluorometry (NSERC RTI)
  • Flow Cytometer (NSERC RTI)
  • DELL Xenon Workstation (16GB Ram)
  • Oxygen and pH microelectrodes
  • Motorized micropositioner
  • Cantilever beam load cell
  • Compound microscope
  • Dissection microscope
  • Preston-static tubes
  • Portable Fluorometer
  • Multimeters
  • Light Meters
  • UV Vis Spectrophotometer
  • Table top centrifuge
  • Oven and Furnacer
  • uSquid Eddy Covariance System (NSERC RTI)
  • Acoustic Doppler Velocimeter (Sontek)
  • Ultrasonic Doppler Velocimeters
  • Acoustic Doppler Profiler (NSERC RTI)
  • DO Loggers (RBR)
  • Fluorometers
  • Weather station
  • Turbidity Logger
  • Preston-static tubes
  • Propeller current meter (Swoffer)
  • Integrating Natural Fluorometers (NSERC RTI)
  • Field Deployable Sonde
  • Hand-Held Mulitmeter
  • Light Meters
  • Benthic sampling equipment
  • Plankton sampling equipment
  • Plankton splitter
  • Seston filtration equipment
  • Aluminum Tripods

Laboratory Flow Chambers

  • We have a variety of flow chambers in the laboratory, ranging from small table-top models to a  number of larger chambers. All of our chambers are designed to provide fully developed flow for appropriate boundary layer conditions.
  1. Countertop recirculating flow chamber (40 x 20 x 300 cm; W x H x L)
    • Applications: Flow visualization; Boundary layer characterization
  2. Free-standing recirculating flow chamber (18 x 10 x 200 cm)
    • Applications: Suspension-feeding studies
  3. Free-standing recirculating flow chamber (17 x 10 x 170 cm)
    • Applications: Suspension-feeding studies; Particle deposition studies
  4. Self-contained sealed recirculating flow chamber (15 x 15 x 120 cm)
    • Applications: O2 evolution in macrophytes.
  5. Countertop recirculating flow chamber (10 x 10 x 100 cm)
    • Applications: flow visualization, calibration, project development
  6. Wall Jet Apparatus (3 x 2 x 100 cm duct)
    • Applications: shear stress modeling, attachment strength
  7. Flow Comparison System Unit (3 Units each with 4 channels of 10 x 10 x 85 cm)
    • Applications: ecophysiology studies, grow studies
  8. Cylindrical tank (45 cm diameter x 200 cm tall)
    • Applications: settling rate, probe development

BEMS – The Biological and Environmental Mechanics Homepage!