EEB seminar: April 9th


This Thursday, Sara Burns will be giving a talk titled:

Does capture method introduce bias in studies of free-ranging birds?

at 12:30 in the EEB lounge (BioSciences 4338)

The seminar is hosted by the Bonier Lab

Sara Burns_2

A common assumption underlying many biological studies is that the data we collect from a subset of individuals are representative of the population of interest. However, in studies of free-ranging animals, capture method might skew samples towards individuals with specific morphological, physiological, and/or behavioral traits. For example, in studies of free-ranging birds, bolder individuals might be more likely to enter nets and traps commonly used in capture. We sought to explore this possible bias by comparing individual birds sampled using two different capture techniques. We caught free-ranging black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) using Potter traps baited with seed and mist nets paired with an audio stimulus (chickadee mobbing calls) and determined sex, body condition, baseline and stress induced glucocorticoid levels, behavioral response to a novel object, and behavioral response to a predator. Differences between individuals captured using the two methods have implications for the design of studies aimed at understanding the physiology or behavior of free-ranging animals, as well as laboratory-based studies when genetic stock is derived from wild caught individuals. Understanding the potential for capture method induced bias will allow for more appropriate and informative sampling of populations.

Sara is an MSc candidate in the Bonier lab here at Queen’s.

EEB seminar: March 26th


This Thursday, Adam Meyer will be giving a talk titled:

Can spatial heterogeneity maintain multiple migration behaviors in a freshwater zooplankton?

at 12:30 in the EEB lounge (BioSciences 4338)

The seminar is hosted by the Nelson Lab

Theory and experiments suggest that spatial heterogeneity in the environment can help maintain multiple behavioural strategies. Zooplankton undergo daily vertical migration behaviours which vary depending on the environmental gradients and predation pressure in a lake. Though typically only one migration behaviour is observed per lake, zooplankton in some lakes show multiple migration behaviours that appear to co-occur for extended periods of time. In a lake with two distinct behaviours, we examined the importance of strong environmental gradients to the fitness of distinct Daphnia pulicaria phenotypes exhibiting either a shallow-water migration or a deep-water migration. Using specially designed migration robots to manipulate migration, we performed fitness bioassays where each phenotype underwent either a shallow or deep water migration for a period of two weeks. Population growth rates were estimated by measuring biomass at days 0, 7 and 14. Growth rate comparisons indicate that in the absence of predation, deep migrators should overtake shallow migrators as the most prevalent phenotype since they display higher growth rates regardless of migration behaviour. This result supports previous work showing that the deep migrators slowly increase in relative abundance from spring to fall.


Adam is an MSc candidate in the Nelson lab here at Queen’s.

EEB seminar: March 19th


This Thursday, Dr. Brad Fedy will be giving a talk titled:

Integrating habitat selection, landscape genetics, and population demography in wildlife populations across large extents

at 12:30 in the EEB lounge (BioSciences 4338)

The seminar is hosted by the Lougheed Lab


Understanding species ecology at large spatial extents is critical to inform broad-scale wildlife management strategies. Habitat selection, demography, and population and landscape genetics are fundamental disciplines that can provide important insights into species ecology. Dr. Fedy conducts wildlife research that draws on these disciplines to help inform management decisions and address questions in basic ecology. He will present an overview of his past 6 years of research in the U.S. intermountain west on species of conservation concern; greater sage-grouse and golden eagles. Greater sage-grouse are currently listed as “warranted but precluded” from listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and a SARA listed species in Canada. They are a year-round resident grouse species dependent on sagebrush steppe habitats. Golden Eagles are large migratory raptors with diverse habitat associations throughout their western range. Despite dramatically different life histories, these two species have emerged as the foci of the wildlife challenges associated with the “wild-west” and continued expansion of energy development and the on-going quest for energy self-sufficiency. Dr. Fedy will present his research on assessing occupancy, habitat selection, population trends and landscape genetics for these species.


Dr. Fedy is an Assistant Professor at the University of Waterloo. His lab website can be found here.

EEB seminar: March 12th


This Thursday, Dr. Stefanie Hixson will be giving a talk titled:

The role of nutrition in growing sustainable and nutritious farmed seafood

at 12:30 in the EEB lounge (BioSciences 4338)

The seminar is hosted by the Arnott Lab

yack photo

Global aquaculture production has increased in recent years and it is predicted that aquaculture will provide the most reliable supply of seafood in the future. However, there are many controversial issues in aquaculture regarding food safety, nutrition, pollution, and sustainability; many of which are directly related to the nutrition and feeds for farmed fish. Some controversial issues in aquaculture that relate to nutrition are: feed and nutrient efficiency, overfeeding and waste, diet composition, fish health, contaminants, biotechnology, and human health concerns. Lipids are a particularly important component in each of these issues because they are a primary source of energy and essential fatty acids for fish, and therefore play an important role in the nutrition and health of both fish and the consumers of fish. This presentation will provide an update on the progression and evolution of this field in order to meet the needs of a growing human population, and using nutrition as a tool to balance production and environmental sustainability.

Dr. Stefanie Hixson is a postdoctoral fellow at Ryerson University, in Dr. Michael Arts’ lab. Her research pertains to marine and freshwater biology and lipid biochemistry. Her studies as a graduate student (PhD- Memorial University of NL; MSc- Dalhousie University) focused on environmentally sustainable feeds in aquaculture. Stefanie’s research focuses on how we use our aquatic resources (i.e., essential fatty acids) effectively and sustainably in the future.

EEB seminar: March 5th


This Thursday, Hayley Roberts will be giving a talk titled:

Understanding Reproductive Phenology in Temperate Frogs

at 12:30 in the EEB lounge (BioSciences 4338)

The seminar is hosted by the Lougheed Lab

Hayley Roberts and frog

Phenology is an important facet of organismal response to environmental variation, both in terms of seasonality and, over the longer term, climate change. Breeding phenology, the focus of my MSc. thesis, has obvious implications for local adaptation and population persistence. Despite its importance, many aspects of breeding phenology are poorly known in many temperate frogs. My EEB talk focuses on my research into two different aspects of temperate frog phenology at the Queen’s University Biological Station. I first look at differences in within-season temporal trends and abundance between male and female Gray Treefrogs (Hyla versicolor). I predicted asynchronous chorus attendance, with males arriving first and showing peak numbers early but with a sustained chorus, followed by female arrival and quick diminution in numbers after breeding. In contrast to my predictions, I found that the sexes have synchronous peaks and similar patterns of chorus attendance. My second goal is to quantify temporal trends in male size for three temperate frog species, two hylids: Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer), Gray Treefrog (H. versicolor), and one ranid species, the Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans). Green Frogs are primarily territorial while the two hylid species are not reported to be. In addition, production of advertisement calls is thought to be energetically costly for all species, with larger males apparently better able to bear this cost than small ones. These observations have ramifications for expected size distributions of males throughout the breeding season, which I will also explore in my talk. My research highlights the importance of detailed studies of phenology both to increase our understanding of mating systems and how individual populations might vary in response to environmental change.

Hayley is an MSc student in the Lougheed lab.