Josef Ackerman

Dr Ackerman
Phone number: 
519-824-4120 x58268
SSC 2468
SSC 2407/2408

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Research TopicsPhysical Ecology (biofluid mechanics, ecohydrology), Limnology (lakes, rivers), Marine Science (coastal), Water Quality (Hypoxia), Benthic Ecology (macrophytes, bivalves), Trophic Dynamics (photosynthesis, suspension feeding), Reproduction & Dispersal (abiotic pollination, broadcast spawning), Early Life History (larval including ecology). and Conservation (unionid mussels)

I received my MA under the late Akira Okubo at SUNY Stony Brook, where I examined the hydrodynamics of eelgrass canopies (Zostera marina), before moving to Cornell University where I studied the biomechanics of submarine pollination in eelgrass for my PhD under Karl Niklas. This was followed by a postdoc/research associate in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Toronto and the Royal Ontario Museum where I examined the biomechanics of zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha and D. bugensis) adhesive, suspension feeding and benthic-pelagic coupling.

As a founding faculty member and Canada Research Chair in Physical Ecology and Aquatic Science at UNBC, I examine suspension feeding in blue mussels (Mytilus trossulus and M. californianus), hydraulic habitats of stream organisms, pheromone dispersion, kelp holdfast mechanics, and particle capture in plant-like collectors.

Much of my current research at Guelph involves: (1) the physical ecology of unionid bivalves and their early life history, suspension feeding and conservation: (2) the physical ecology of macrophytes (algae and aquatic plants), mechanisms of abiotic pollination; and (3) physical -biological interactions in lakes and rivers.

I am an Associate Editor of Limnology and Oceanograph, Associate Editor of Aquatic Sciences, and Wiley's Encyclopedia of Water: Science, Technology, and Society, and I was the Editor in Chief of Limnology & Oceanography: Fluids and Environments.

I am a member of a number of scientific societies including: AGU, ASLO,  BES, BSA, CERF, IAGLR, SFS, SCL, TOS and Sigma Xi.


Fall 2023: MSc and PhD Student Assistantships in Physical Ecology

Funding is available immediately to support MSc and PhD students in projects that aims to investigate:

(i) the role of turbulence on larval fish (Walleye) swimming, feeding and growth;

(ii)  trophic interactions that relate to larval fish recruitment;

(iii) the physical ecology of bivalve trophic dynamics; and

(iv) the physical ecology of aquatic plant productivity.

  • B.Sc. - University of Toronto - 1982
  • M.A. - SUNY at Stony Brook - 1985
  • Ph.D. - Cornell University - 1989

Physical Ecology and Aquatic Sciences

(Marine and Freshwater Biology)

  1. Nutrient and trophic dynamics in benthic producers and consumers: Hydrodynamics and mass transport.
    • Nutrient Uptake by aquatic plants
    • Suspension feeding by freshwater and marine bivalves
  2. Physical-Biological interactions and the larval fish recruitment
    • The effects of roughness on egg dislodgement in walleye
    • the effect of turbulence on egg development
    • the effect of turbulence on larval swimming and feeding in walleye
    • the effect of turbulence on larval development
  3. The physical ecology of reproduction, dispersal, and early life history.
    • Effect of turbulence on the survival, growth, and recruitment of larval fishes
    • Dispersion of mussel gametes, larvae and juveniles in lakes and rivers
    • Determination of hydraulic habitats of juvenile mussels
    • Mechanisms of particle capture including abiotic pollination
  4. Conservation and Restoration of Aquatic Ecosystems.
    • Identification of host fish and rearing juveniles of endangered unionid mussel. 
    • Biophysical interactions related to water quality
    • Determination of the role of benthic processes in hypoxia of lakes.

Some of long-term interests include the convergent evolution of morphological structures and processes, the manner by which organisms have adapted to their physical environment, and fluid dynamic aspects of mass transfer through ecosystems. I have been fortunate to ask many of these questions within an applied context related to industrial ecology, fisheries, forestry, and conservation. I continue to be interested in exploring the ecology of marine and freshwater plants (and algae) and benthic invertebrates.

Most of my research is undertaken in the Physical Ecology Laboratory, Hagen Aqualab and in the field in locations that include southwestern Ontario rivers, Lake Erie, Vancouver Island (Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre), and the Rocky Mountains.

  • Jabbari, A., R. Valipour, J.D. Ackerman, and Y.R. Rao. 2023. Nearshore-offshore exchanges by enhanced turbulent mixing along the north shore of Lake Ontario. Journal of Great Lakes Research. 49(3):596-607.

  • Farrow, C.R., L-T Lim, and J.D. Ackerman. 2022. Environmentally friendly microbeads to model the dispersal of particulates in aquatic systems. Science of the Total Environment 842:156680 (12 pages + Supplemental).

  • Luck, J., and J.D. Ackerman. 2022. Threats to freshwater mussels: The interactions of water temperature, velocity and total suspended solids on ecophysiology and growth. Science of the Total Environment. 821: 153101 10 pages + Supplemental.

  • Castañeda,R.A., J.D. Ackerman,L. Chapman, S. Cooke, K. Cuddington, A. Dextrase, D. Jackson, M. Koops, M. Krkošek, K. Loftus, N. Mandrak, A. Martel, P. Molnar, T. Morris, T. Pitcher, M. Poesch, M. Power, T. Prattt, S. Reid, M. Rodriguez, J. Rosenfeld C. Wilson, D. Zanatta, and A. Drake. 2021. Approaches and research needs for advancing the protection and recovery of imperilled freshwater fishes and mussels in Canada. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 78: 1356–1370.

  • Jabbari, A., K. Yanase, and J.D. Ackerman. 2021. A spanwise oscillating plate in a crossflow: Implication for mass transfer and locomotion. Limnology and Oceanography 66: 3393–3407. 10.1002/lno.11886

  • Lin, S., L. Boegman, R. Valipour, D. Bouffard, J.D. Ackerman, and Y. Zhao. 2021. Three-dimensional modeling of sediment resuspension in a large shallow lake. Journal of Great Lakes Research 47: 970-984. 10.1016/j.jglr.2021.04.014

  • Jabbari, A., Ackerman, J.D., Boegman, L. and Yingming Zhao. 2021. Increases in Great Lake winds and extreme events facilitate interbasin coupling and reduce water quality in Lake Erie. Sci Rep 11, 5733 (2021).
  • Nakhaei, N., J.D. Ackerman, D. Bouffard, Y.R. Rao, and L. Boegman. Accepted (2021).  Empirical modeling of hypolimnion and sediment oxygen demand in lakes.  Inland Waters. 11: 351-367. 10.1080/20442041.2021.1880244
  • Tuttle-Raycraft, S. and J.D. Ackerman. 2020. Evidence of phenotypic plasticity in the response of unionid mussels to turbidity. Freshwater Biology. 65: 1989–1996.
  • Fung, V. and J.D. Ackerman. 2020.The effects of river algae and porewater flow on the feeding of juvenile mussels. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences 125: e2019JG005302.
  • Farrow, C., J.D. Ackerman, R.E.H. Smith, and D. Snider. 2020. Riverine transport and nutrient inputs affect phytoplankton communities in a coastal embayment.  Freshwater Biology. 65: 289–303 + 9 supplemental.
  • Tran, K. and J.D. Ackerman. 2019. Mussels partition resources from natural waters under flowing conditions. Science of the Total Environment  696: 133870.
  • Tuttle-Raycraft, S., and J.D. Ackerman. 2019. Living the high turbidity life: The efects of TSS, flow and gill morhology on mussel feeding. Limnology and Oceanography 64: 2526 - 2537.
  • Nishizaki, M.T. and J.D. Ackerman. 2019. Settlement and recruitment of pelagic larvae to benthic habitats. Encyclopedia of Water: Science, Technology, and Society. Wiley, New York.
  • Hendriks, I.E., van Duren, L.A. and J.D. Ackerman. 2019. Canopy forming ecosystem engineers in aquatic ecosystems. Encyclopedia of Water: Science, Technology, and Society. Wiley, New York.
  • Jabbari, A. J.D. Ackerman, L. Boegman, and Y. Zhao. 2019. Episodic hypoxia in the western basin of Lake Erie. Limnology and Oceanography 64: 2220–2236
  • Mistry, R. and J.D. Ackerman. 2018. Flow, flux and feeding in freshwater mussels. Water Resources Research 54.
  • Tuttle-Raycraft, S., and J.D. Ackerman. 2018. Does size matter? Particle size vs. quality in bivalve suspension feeding. Freshwater Biology DOI: 10.1111/fwb.13184.
  • McCombe, D. and J.D. Ackerman. 2018. Collector Motion Affects Particle Capture in Physical Models and in Wind Pollination. The American Naturalist 192:81-93 + 3 suppl.
  • Tuttle-Raycraft, S., T.J. Morris and J.D. Ackerman.  2017. Suspended solid concentration reduces feeding in freshwater mussels. Science of the Total Environment 598: 1160–1168.
  • Nishizaki, M.T. and J.D. Ackerman. 2017. Mussels blow rings: Jet behavior affects local mixing. Limnology and Oceanography 62:125–136.
  • Mistry, R. and J.D. Ackerman. 2016. Algal flux affects the clearance rates of recently metamorphosed freshwater mussels. Aquatic Sciences 79:139–148
  • Tremblay, M.E., T. Morris, and J.D. Ackerman. 2016. Loss of reproductive output caused by an invasive species. Royal Society Open Science 3: 150481.
  • Gazendam,E., B. Gharabaghi, J.D. Ackerman, and H. Whitely.  2016. Integrative neural networks models for stream assessment in restoration projects. Journal of Hydrology 536: 339–350.
  • Tremblay, M.E.M., T.J. Morris, and J.D. Ackerman. 2015.  A multivariate approach to the identification of unionid glochidia with emphasis on Species at Risk in Southern Ontario. Canadian Manuscript Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 3057: vii + 52 p.
  • Quinn, N.P. and J.D. Ackerman. 2015. The effect of bottom roughness on scalar transport in aquatic ecosystems: Implications for reproduction and recruitment in the benthos. Journal of Theoretical Biology 369:59-66.
  • Krick, J., and J.D. Ackerman. 2015. Adding ecology to particle capture models: Numerical simulations of capture on a moving cylinder in crossflow. Journal of Theoretical Biology 368:13-26.
  • Timerman,D., D. F. Greene, J. Urzay and J.D. Ackerman. 2014. Turbulence-induced resonance vibrations cause pollen release in Plantago lanceolata L. (Plantaginaceae). Journal of the Royal Society Interface 11: 20140866.
  • Timerman, D., D.F. Greene, J.D. Ackerman, E. Nardone, and P.G. Kevan. 2014. Pollen aggregation in relation to pollination vector. International Journal of Plant Sciences 175:681-687.
  • Bouffard, D., L. Boegman, J.D. Ackerman, R. Valipoura, and Y.R. Rao. 2014. Near-inertial wave driven dissolved oxygen transfer through the thermocline of a large lake. Journal of Great Lakes Research  40: 300-307.
  • Vanden Byllaardt, J. and J.D. Ackerman. 2014. Hydrodynamic habitat influences suspension feeding by unionid mussels in freshwater ecosystems. Freshwater Biology. 59: 1187-1196.
  • French, S.K. and J.D. Ackerman. 2014. Responses of newly settled juvenile mussels to bed shear stress: Implications for dispersal. Freshwater Science 33(1):46-55.
  • Quinn, N.P. and J.D. Ackerman. 2014. Effects of near-bed turbulence on the suspension and settlement of freshwater dreissenid mussel larvae. Freshwater Biology 59: 614–629.
  • Ackerman, J.D. 2014. Role of fluid dynamics in dreissenid mussel biology. pp 471-483 in T.F. Nalepa and D.W. Schloesser (eds). Quagga and Zebra Mussels: Biology, Impact, and Control.  Second Edition. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. 775 pp.

         Current Students

  • Chris Farrow (PhD candidate)
  • Jake Carman (MSc candidate)
  • Keoni Chong (MSc candidate)
  • Sydney Todd (MSc candidate)

Recent Grads

  • Al Lu (MSc 2023)
  • Emile Sabeti-Mehr (MSc 2022)
  • Luc Goulet (MSc 2022)
  • Stephanie Smodis (MSc 2022)
  • Kirsten Luck (MSc 2020)
  • Julian Lum (MSc 2020)
  • Victor Fund MSc (2019)
  • Shaylah Tuttle-Raycraft PhD (2018)
  • Christopher Farrow, MSc (2018)
  • Katherine Tran, MSc (2017)
  • Kyle Sewak, MSc (2017)

Current Postdoctoral Scientists

  • open

Former Postdoctoral Scientists

  • Dr. Aidin Jabbari (Lake Ecological Modeler, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) New Zealand)
  • Professor Mike Nishizaki (Carelton College, USA)
  • Dr. Damien Bouffard (Group Leader, EAWAG, Swizerland)
  • Dr. Robert Schindler (University of Plymouth, UK)

My current courses include

  • BIOL*4350 Limnology of Natural and Polluted Waters (Fall 2020)
  • ZOO*4570 Marine Ecology Processes (Winter 2021)
  • IBIO*6000*2 and IBIO*6070 Advances in Integrative Biology as Advanced Physical Ecology (Fall 2016, 2019)

I was the Faculty Advisor for the BSc majors in Marine and Freshwater Biology and Marine and Freshwater Biology CoOp

News reports on Lab activities:

Scientific Reports Paper on Increases in Great Lakes Winds

University of Guelph: March 16, 2021

Washington Post: March 15, 2021

CTV NewsMarch 15, 2021 March 15, 2021

Education News Canada: March 17, 2021


Royal Society Open Science paper on Invasive species disrupting reproduction of host

University of Guelph: April 6, 2016 April 6, 2016


Under-the-Sea Lab Provides Data for Landlocked Biologists

University of Guelph; November 6, 2012


Healthy Rivers Need Strong Mussels:

University of Guelph; December 5, 2011