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Human Impacts and Animal Behaviour

Contaminants flow

There is now overwhelming evidence that human population growth, our species consumption of fuel and generation of waste are all having a massive effect on the planet and driving global change. Our research group ABEL is interested in understanding how animal behaviour is influenced by these man-made changes. We study the effects of things like pollution, species introductions, and temperature change on animal behaviour and track how these individual level effects can have cascading impacts all the way up to population and ecosystem health. 

Much of this work is focused on the round goby, a small benthic fish originally from the Ponto‐Caspian region of Europe. This fish first invaded North America and western Europe via accidental transfer in the ballast water of ships and has spread with unprecedented speed. The round goby's tendency to eat large numbers of contaminant ‐ bioconcentrating dreissenid mussels (which few other fish in the Great Lakes can consume), combined with the fact that they have become an important item in the diets of many predators, positions the round goby to be a contaminant vector in the Great Lakes foodwebs. Their overall abundance, benthic diets, restricted movement and long-term exposure to contaminated sediments, makes the round goby a highly suitable sentinel species for habitat contamination. We sample round goby in Hamilton Harbour every two weeks for about 6 months of the year.


Photo Gallery button  See a Photo gallery of ABEL work on this topic


Here are a few representative ABEL papers on this topic:


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