Featured New Research

photo of Dr. Gustavo Betini in the lab

Evolutionary trade-off causes multigenerational population cycles

Many wild populations undergo seasonality where they cycle between peaks of high and low numbers across several generations. 

Research from four members of the Department of Integrative Biology, Dr. Gustavo S. Betini, Dr. Andrew McAdam, Dr. Cortland Griswold, and Dr. Ryan Norris provides empirical and mathematical evidence that seasonality caused by density-dependence and evolutionary trade-offs may be driving these population cycles.

zebrafish embryo

Anoxia during a 4-hour window can lead to dominant and aggressive behaviour in zebrafish

Earlier research had shown that zebrafish embryos could survive hypoxia (low oxygen) and even anoxia (complete absence of oxygen) during the first 24 hours which is quite a feat.

This piqued the interest of Prof. Nick Bernier and his students, Catie Ivy and Cayleigh Robertson who are now both PhD students at McMaster University under Profs. Graham Scott and Grant McClelland, respectively.

photo of fish heart

Temperature-induced cardiac remodeling in fish

The body temperature of fish is the same as their environment. This means that a change in environmental temperatures, such as in the winter, results in a decrease in the physiological temperatures of fish. Such a change represents a significant challenge for temperate fish species, such as rainbow trout, that remain active in the winter as a decrease in temperature causes the heart to lose function. 

Daphnia embryo

Calcium can protect freshwater organisms from copper toxicity

Freshwater habitats like the shield lakes of Northern Canada have experienced dramatic water chemistry changes over the last century due to human activities such as mining, farming and forestry. Acidification of these habitats has emerged as a major problem for freshwater organisms living in these habitats and depend on calcium. For example, Daphnia, small freshwater crustaceans have to rebuild their exoskeleton in a regular basis and require calcium to do so.

Prof. Liz Boulding doing field work on the shores of Northern Spain

Insights into snail size as a 'magic trait' for speciation

Predator-driven selection has been shown to cause the evolutionary change in prey populations. A newly published paper shows evidence that selection by a predatory crab may be responsible for ongoing speciation of the marine snail Littorina saxatilis. In Northern Spain L. saxatilis has evolved into two ecotypes (genetically distinct population within a species): crab-resistant and wave-resistant.

Profile photo of Dr. Steve Newmaster

What's in your herbal remedy? Using DNA barcoding and DNA-based biological reference material library to test herbal products

Previous studies led by Prof. Newmaster and colleagues in 2013 have estimated high levels of adulteration in North American herbal products resulting in investigations into some of the largest herbal supplements manufacturers in the nation. His lab continues to be a leading expert in this area of research and his students are highly sought after for their expertise in this field.

cover photo for the International Journal of Plant Sciences

Wildflowers can limit the amount of pollen deposited on each bee visitor

Many plant species depend on animals such as bees to transfer pollen from flower to flower.  This dependence on bees is risky because they can consume pollen rather than transferring it to another flower.  Plants can reduce this risk by limiting the amount of pollen deposited on each successive bee visitor. 

Photo of Ryan Norris feeding a grey jay

Give males some credit too – how older male gray jays influence female nesting behaviour

Dr. Ryan Norris and his colleagues provide first evidence of the importance of male experience on the timing of breeding in female birds.

Female gray jays (Perisoreus Canadensis) can adjust their reproductive timing in response to variation in the environment through phenotypic plasticity (the ability of an individual to adjust behaviour in response to different environmental conditions).

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