RESEARCH

The area of study of our research group is environmental toxicology. We investigate how chemicals released into the environment affect terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. This involves investigations at a wide range of biological levels of organization, e.g., metabolites within an organism and all the way to biological communities within an ecosystem.

 

Read about our recent collaboration investigating the potential effect of microplastics on aquatic and terrestrial organisms at University of Guelph Microplastics

Left: Embryos of the freshwater pulsate snail Planorbella pilsbryi. Our group has been developing a toxicity tests that use snail embryos to assess the toxicity of chemicals or water samples collected from the field.

Right: The larvae of the mayfly Neocloeon triangulifer. This mayfly species allow us to investigate the effect of chemicals on the aquatic insects throughout the entire life cycle. This is challenging because the life cycle of many mayfly species are 1 year or longer. The length of the life cycle of Neocloeon triangulifer is 30 days. 

Mussel populations being surveyed in the Grand River, Ontario

Left: Female wavyrayed lampmussels (Lampsilis fasciola) using a lure display to attract a fish host for their larvae (glochidia). Baby mussels spend the first weeks of their life on the gill or fin of a fish host going through metamorphosis. These beauties were found in a tributary of the Grand River in Ontario, Canada.

Right: Various freshwater mussel species collected during a survey of a site in the Grand River, Ontario. All of these mussels go back into the river after we identify the species and estimate their age using the shell structure and measure their length. These surveys are critical to tracking the diversity and abundance of freshwater mussels in Canada's rivers.

The head of the springtail Folsomia candida under a scanning electron microscope. This species is used by our group to investigate the toxicity of chemicals i soil ecosystems.

Left: Scanning electron microscope image of the mandible of a springtail (Folsomia candida). An important fungivore found in soil across the globe. This little critter is readily used in soil toxicity testing.

Right: Tetrahymena glochidiophila feeding on a glochidium (larval mussel) of freshwater mussels (Lampsilis siliquoidea, fatmucket mussel). This tiny ciliate was described for the first time by Dr. Ryan Prosser and Dr. Denis Lynn. This means that Denis and I got to name the little critter, we decided on the species name "glochidiophila" (lover of glochidia).