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Research Overview

We conduct foundational and applied research at the interface of aquatic ecology, limnology, evolution, animal behavior, and ecotoxicology. We examine many conservation issues in lakes, wetlands, and streams by working with a wide diversity of aquatic organisms including fish, amphibians, bivalves, zooplankton, insects, crustaceans, pathogens, aquatic plants, and algae.


Since 2014, our research has included a great deal of work on lake ecosystems as part of The Jefferson Project at Lake George. This is an unprecedented effort to combine a Smart Sensor Network, advanced computer models (weather, runoff, lake circulation, and food web models), and leading-edge experimentation. Our goal is to serve as a global blueprint for how scientists and engineers can study and understand human impacts on the environment and, in turn, inform decision makers about how to mitigate these human impacts.

Below is an overview of our research.



  • Ecological effects on animals, plants, and algae

    • Trophic cascades through food webs

    • Induced changes in amphibian sex and morphology

    • Impacts of salt alternatives and organic additives

    • Interactions with nutrients and light

    • Interactions with predator and competitor stress

    • Mitigation of effects by leaf litter

    • Combined effects with pesticides

    • Facilitating heavy metal release from soils


  • Evolutionary effects on zooplankton
    • Cross-tolerance among different salts

    • Experimental evolution of salt tolerance

    • The loss of circadian rhythms

    • Evolved populations alter food webs

    • Global analysis of salt impacts on plankton



  • Ecological effects

    • Effects on behavior, morphology, and survival

    • Impacts on species interactions and food webs

    • Effects of pesticide mixtures

    • Cross-tolerance among insecticides

    • Synergistic effects with predator stress

    • Synergistic effects with competitor stress

    • Lag effects of pesticide exposure

    • Mitigating insecticides with aquatic plants

  • Evolutionary effects

    • Evolved tolerance across landscapes

    • Evolved populations alter food webs

    • Inducible pesticide tolerance by sublethal exposures

    • Inducible pesticide tolerance by predator cues

    • Phylogenetic patterns of pesticide tolerance



  • Ecological Effects

    • ​​​Effects of invasive species on food webs

    • Competition with native species

    • Impacts of soil type and nutrients

    • Impacts of different road salts

    • Interactions with salinization and light

    • Effects of water turbidity

    • Interactions with climate change

    • Facilitation by past invaders

    • Interactions with herbicides and algicides

    • Niche modeling invasives​​​



  • Chytrid fungus, trematodes, and ranavirus (amphibian pathogens)

    • Species-level differences in tolerance

    • Population-level differences in tolerance

    • Phylogenetic patterns of tolerance

    • Tests of putative reservoir species

    • Interactions with competition and predation

    • Interactions with pesticides

    • Effects of carotenoids on disease susceptibility

    • Fungicides facilitate fungal infections

    • Effects of population-level pesticide and salt tolerance among amphibian populations

  • Impacts of different leaf litter species

    • Effects of different tree species on food webs

    • Leaf leaching impacts on predator-prey interactions

    • Impacts of leaf litter biodiversity of food webs and ecosystem function

    • Interactions between leaf litter and road salt

    • Interactions between leaf litter and pesticides

    • Litter-induced changes in tadpole morphology

    • Litter-induced changes in amphibian sex

    • Carry-over effects after metamorphosis



Sexual selection & Coexistence

  • Sexual selection in amphipods

    • Identifying sexual selected traits in amphipods

    • Impacts of excess phosphorus on male sexual traits

  • Coexistence in amphipods

    • Impacts of positive- and negative-size selective predators
    • Mating preferences among cryptic species
    • Competitive ability & predator susceptibility among cryptic species
    • Effects of leaf litter species on amphipod performance


  • Predator-induced traits

    • Changes in behavior, morphology, and life history

    • Brain plasticity

    • Responses to different predator combinations

    • Reversibility of predator induction

    • Population level differences in plasticity

    • Costs of induction

    • Costs of simply carrying plasticity

    • Heritability of plastic traits

    • Phylogenetic patterns of plasticity

    • Lasting effects after metamorphosis

    • The predator and prey cues that induce plasticity

    • Trait-mediated effects of predator induction

  • Competitor-induced traits

    • Changes in behavior, morphology, and life history
    • Interactive effects of competitor and predator environments
    • Trade-offs of competitor-induced traits
    • Lasting effects after metamorphosis



  • Predator-induced traits

    • Changes in behavior, morphology, life history

    • Lifetime fitness effects of predator induction

    • Responses to different predator combinations

    • Reversibility of predator-induced traits

    • Trait-mediated effects of predator induction

    • Effects of food availability and pH disruption of predator cues

  • Self-fertilizing behaviors

    • Effects of selfing vs. outcrossing on life history decisions
    • Effects of selfing vs. outcrossing on predator-induced traits



  • Ecological Effects

    • Critical performance temperatures in >20 aquatic species

    • Altered thermal performance with predator cues

    • Altered thermal performance with pesticides



  • Deploying advanced sensor platforms

    • Weather stations

    • Stream stations

    • Vertical profilers

    • Acoustic Doppler current profilers

  • Designing new generations of sensors and sensor platforms

  • Correcting sensor data

    • Using machine learning to correct sensor bias

    • Predicting phosphorus and nitrogen concentrations using data from high-frequency sensors

  • Physical sampling

    • Water chemistry

    • Lake biota

  • Modeling lake food webs


  • Wetlands in Michigan (1996-2012)

    • Long-term population and meta-community dynamics across a landscape

  • Wetlands in Patagonia (1999-2001)

    • New classification of wetland types

  • The Lake George watershed (2015-2022)

    • Lake fish
    • Lake invertebrates
    • Stream invertebrates
    • Lake and stream chemistry
    • Lake coring for testate amoebas to document historic human impacts


Over the years, we have remained diverse in the questions we ask and the taxa we examine.  We strike a balance between research that asks basic ecological and evolutionary questions and research that has real-world applications.  Collectively, this work allows us to offer new insights into ecology, evolution, toxicology, and conservation.

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