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Dr. Robert McLaughlin
Associate Professor

Dr. Robert McLaughlin


Office: SSC 2456
Ext: 53620
Lab: SSC 2403/2404
Ext: 54852


B.Sc. - Windsor 1981
M.Sc. - Queen's 1983
Ph.D. - McGill 1991


My research program is diverse, but the overarching theme involves using the movements of animals to assess the significance that individual behaviour has for the biology of populations and communities and, ultimately, biodiversity.
In one main component, my students are using studies at the assemblage, population, and individual levels to examine changes in the biodiversity of stream fishes caused by in-stream barriers used to control sea lamprey in the Laurentian Great Lakes, the role of restrictions on movement in bringing about these changes, and methods of minimizing any change (e.g. improved trapping of sea lamprey and passage of other fishes). My position and this research are supported by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission to increase its science capacity.
In a second main component, my students are using smaller scale approaches focused on diversification in the foraging and migratory movements of brook charr (Salvelinus fontinalis) to understand the role that individual differences in behaviour have in facilitating population divergence in physiology, morphology, and life history (resource polymorphism), and the creation of new biodiversity.
My research program has two, additional minor components. Several students have been and continue to conduct studies assessing the effects of agricultural practices on stream fishes. I, and now my students, also continue to examine basic research questions related to animal movement. 
Differences in the nature, approach, and subject matter of these components creates a unique and interesting combination of research opportunities that is rich biologically and intellectually, and creates a productive synergy in terms of addressing the overarching theme of my program.

Selected Publications

Addressing Fish Behaviour and Sea Lamprey Control

Vélez-Espino, L. A., R. L. McLaughlin, and T. C. Pratt.  2008. Management inferences from a demographic analysis of sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) in the Laurentian Great Lakes. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 65:227-244.

McLaughlin, R. L, A. Hallett, T. C. Pratt, L. M. O’Connor, and D. G. McDonald. 2007. Research to guide use of barriers, traps, and fishways to control sea lamprey. Journal of Great Lakes Research 33(Special Issue 2):7-19.

Harford, W. and R. L. McLaughlin. 2007. Understanding uncertainty in the effect of low-head dams on fishes of Great Lakes tributaries.  Ecological Applications 17:1783-1796.

Vélez-Espino, L.A., M.G. Fox, and R.L. McLaughlin. 2006. Characterization of elasticity patterns of North American freshwater fishes. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 63:2050-2066.

McLaughlin, R. L., L. Porto, D. L. G. Noakes, J. R. Baylis, L. M. Carl, H. R. Dodd, D. B. Hayes, J. D. Goldstein, and R. Randall. 2006.  Effects of low-head barriers on stream fishes: taxonomic affiliations and morphological correlates of sensitive species.  Canadian Journal for Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 63:766-779.

McLaughlin, R. L., J. E. Marsden, and D. B. Hayes.  2003. Achieving the benefits of sea lamprey control while minimizing effects on non-target species:  conceptual synthesis and policy development.  Journal of Great Lakes Research 29(Supplement 1): 755-765.

Dodd, H.R., D. B. Hayes, J.R. Baylis, L.M. Carl, J.D. Goldstein, R.L. McLaughlin, D.L.G. Noakes, L.M. Porto, and M.L. Jones. 2003. Low-head lamprey barrier effects on stream habitat and fish communities in the Great Lakes basin. Journal of Great Lakes Research 29(Supplement 1): 386-402.

Hayes, D. B., J. R. Baylis, L. M. Carl. H. Dodd, J. Goldstein, R. L. McLaughlin, D. L. G. Noakes, and L. Porto. 2003. Biological effects of low-head lamprey barriers: designs for extensive surveys and the value of incorporating intensive process-oriented research. Journal of Great Lakes Research 29(Supplement 1): 373-385.

McLaughlin, R. L., L. Carl, T. Middell, M. Ross, D. L. G. Noakes, D. B. Hayes, and J. R. Baylis. 2001. Potentials and pitfalls of integrating data from diverse sources: lessons from an historical database for Great Lakes stream fishes. Fisheries 26(7):14-24.

Addressing Individual Behaviour and Resource Polymorphism

Wilson, A and R. L. McLaughlin. 2007. Behavioural syndromes in brook charr, Salvelinus fontinalis: prey search in the field corresponds with space use in novel laboratory situations. Animal Behavior 74:689-698.

DeKerckhove, D., R. L. McLaughlin, and D. L. G. Noakes. 2006. Ecological mechanisms favouring behavioural diversification in the absence of morphological diversification: a theoretical examination using brook charr (Salvelinus fontinalis). Journal of Animal Ecology 75:506-517.

Imre, I., R. L. McLaughlin, and D. L. G. Noakes. 2002. Phenotypic plasticity in brook charr: changes in caudal fin induced by water flow. Journal of Fish Biology 61:1171-1181.

McLaughlin, R. L. 2001. Behavioural diversification in brook charr: adaptive responses to local conditions. J. Animal Ecology 70:325-337.

Imre, I., R. L. McLaughlin, and D. L. G. Noakes. 2001. Temporal persistence of a resource polymorphism in brook charr (Salvelinus fontinalis). Environmental Biology of Fishes 60:393-399.

Addressing Conservation of Fishes In Agricultural Systems

Stammler, K., R. L. McLaughlin, N. E. Mandrak. 2008. Streams modified for drainage provide fish habitat in agricultural areas. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 65:509-522.

Poos, M., N. B. Mandrak, and R. L. McLaughlin. 2007. The effectiveness of two common sampling methods for assessing imperilled freshwater fishes. Journal of Fish Biology 70:691-708.

Addressing Unsteady Locomotion

Kramer, D. L. and R. L. McLaughlin. 2001. The behavioural ecology of intermittent locomotion. American Zoologist 41:137-153.

McLaughlin, R. L. and J. W. A. Grant. 2001. A field test of perceptual and energetic bases for intermittent locomotion in young brook charr. Behaviour 138:559-574.

McLaughlin, R. L. and D. L. G. Noakes. 1998. Going against the flow: an examination of the propulsive movements made by young brook trout in streams. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 55:853-860.


Animal Behaviour (ZOO*4070)
Research in Integrative Biology I (IBIO*4500)
Research in Integrative Biology II (IBIO*4510)

Grad Students

Dolinsek, Ivan (PhD Concordia)*
Gislason, David (PhD)**
Myles-Gonzalez, Emelia (MSc)
Strnad, Cameron (MSc)
Wajmer, Nicole (MSc)

* co-supervised with Jim Grant, Concordia
** co-supervised with Beren Robinson, Guelph


Great Lakes Fishery Commission
Canadian Conference for Fisheries Research
American Fisheries Society
Animal Behavior Society
International Society of Behavioural Ecology