|My research is in marine biology (ecology mostly) although I work with Vaccinium sp.
(blueberry, bilberry, cranberry) probably born of ~10 years eating and
making wine from patridgeberries in Newfoundland and collaborating with Sam Vander Kloet.
As well, I have a research interest in how better to teach through the
use of applied research in laboratories and the application and
inclusion of research in teaching.
I study marine ecology on various levels. I am particularly interested in the early life history of fish eggs of species that are commercially important to fisheries and aquaculture. I investigate abnormalities in cleavage patterns during development and various other egg quality measures, and link those to fish population dynamics and human impacts. Currently I head the Habitat Stewardship Program for striped bass (Morone saxatilis) in Nova Scotia. In addition, I have a number of technological-based or service projects that are ideally suited for bench or computer work by undergraduate students, yet possess complexity in design, procedure, or analysis and are generally applicable to broader scientific areas. Because we all like lists, I provide one.
Ecological Research Projects
Striped Bass Stewardship
Stewardship is based on community. Striped bass are economically important to Nova Scotia and a darn fine fish for anglers enjoyment. We are a diverse team working on awareness, handling, local ecological knowledge, by-catch, and stewardship of striped bass with a long-term view of species conservation through habitat conservation and species biology.
Meta-Analysis of cold-ocean, marine fish early life history
Here we (Dr. Shaun Killen and students Patricia Morrison and Renaj Forbes) have/are compiling early life history data from single, repeat, and serial-spawning (batch spawning), cold-ocean (North Atlantic), marine fishes to analyze trends. The current focus is on cod (Gadus morhua), haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus), halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus), yellowtail flounder (Limanda ferrugineus) and other flounders (e.g. plaice, sole). We anticipate adding other fishes, not necessarily marine, but with similar spawning (think "r" species) and early life history strategies, such as striped bass (Morone saxatilis) in the future.
Scallop taxonomy and phylogenetics
Sam Vander Kloet inspired this project almost 15 years ago. It began as a historical accont of the taxonomy of Placopecten magellanicus as part of my graduate work. We have been waiting for a number of years for genetic information to determine if our account is genetically defensible. This project is now complete and submitted for publication.
Alien invasive species transmitted through sea ports
An ongoing project consisting of sampling via settling plates, visual inspection, and post-collection rearing and identification of alien invasive marine species. The central focus is on non-bilge invaders.
Morphological analysis of conch fish, and metamorphosis of yellowtail flounder
Two projects using a similar analysis technique of landmark data and Procrustes analysis for morphological comparison. The conch fish (Astrapogon stellatus) were sampled from Man-o-War Cay, Bahamas and Pedro Bank, Jamaica and have a commensal relationship with the Queen conch (Strombus gigas). Stephen Winfield has been instrumental in pushing this research along.
Salmon mark-recapture analysis in the Bay of Fundy
An analysis of a number of historical mark-recapture studies, some published, others not, will provide further insights into the movements of Atlantic salmon in the Bay of Fundy. Most of the fish were tagged within rivers in the Bay of Fundy and their movement patterns vary. Mike Dadswell is leading the way on this one.
Technical Research Projects
Clearing and staining techniques
A review and quantitative comparison of two popular techniques (Ethanol vs. KOH) based on colour analysis. Using R, a few functions for colour analysis are being created. The review was done by undergraduate research topic students. My fascination began in my undergraduate days. The yellowtail flounder juveniles (above) are the handy work of Shannon O'Connor completed during an ichthyology course.
An ongoing fascination where digital technology has (finally) become available to analyze a few hundred feet of high-speed cine film to look more closely at the clap cycle of scallop swimming. Coming to a theatre near you! (This project also has some serious hydrofoil work i.e. not all technical).
Teaching and Learning Research Projects
An extension of informatics on a different level. The museum interest is not new (see clearing and staining), and I developed several database projects for the dissemination of information over the years. I undertook this one as a fork from a teaching and learning environment that I have been developing on the 'teaching' side. Fred Scott is the curator of the Robie Tufts Wildlife Museum at Acadia and, darn it, we want people to be able to see and use this great collection!