THE fryxell LAB
In our lab located inside the Summerlee Science Complex, we focus on the interactive effect of multiple stressors on individual fitness.
In controlled lab settings we use the zooplankton Daphnia magna as a model system to understand the impact of climate change (increasing temperature), pesticide exposure, and food availability on individual level.
The research facilities in the Aqualab allow us to test test models of the effect of climate change, nutrient loading, and pesticide exposure on food web dynamics. This setting helps us to better target and observe the impact these changing variables have on consumer-resource dynamics within small-scale mesocosms.
The limnotron is located inside the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario and is composed of six double-walled stainless steel tanks. These tanks allow us to create experimental ecosystems that mimic a controlled lake environment. The limnotron is designed for control over environmental variables like temperature and light to see how altering these variables can impact on consumer-resource interactions.
The limnotron has eighteen sampling ports at various heights and depths to allow for sampling from different water columns within the tanks. Each tank contains metal propellers that create underwater currents.
Current research in the limnotron is observing how conditions that mimic climate change can affect food-web dynamics, species evolution, and the formation of harmful algae blooms.
Our field researchers are investigating the change in biodiversity between different regions across Ontario. These regions being: conservation areas, lands restored through the ALUS program, and conventional farmlands.
From May to October, insect DNA is collected in malaise traps that are placed across various land-use gradients to identify insect species from that plot.
Field work involves servicing the traps, identifying plant species, and using the point-intercept method to quantify plant species abundance.
This work is funded by Food from Thought and aims to provide a more complete picture of insect community dynamics and their relationships to environmental factors in agricultural systems to help inform sustainable management decisions.
To better understand consumer-resource dynamics and migration patterns, the scope of our research has brought us to regions in Norway and the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.