Keith Tierney, BSc, MSc, MBA, PhD

Professor, Faculty of Science - Biological Sciences

Pronouns: he, him, his


Professor, Faculty of Science - Biological Sciences
(780) 492-5339
Z632 Bio Science - D.M. Ross Zoology Tower
11355 - Saskatchewan Drive
Edmonton AB
T6G 2E9


Area of Study / Keywords

Behaviour toxicology health ageing exercise microbiome invasive species global climate change novel diets plant protein diets oil pollution model vertebrates zebrafish


My research explores chemical-vertebrate interactions. In this, we explore how sensory information is gathered and used to inform behaviour, and how animals live through different environmental and health conditions. Three specific areas of focus include:

(1) Sensory physiology. The sense of smell (olfaction) is often necessary in mating, moving and feeding. Without it, life will be less interesting, to say the least. My program aims to elucidate the mechanisms that enable olfaction, and determine how this pathway directs behaviour. In this work, we study a variety of fishes, including popular model, zebrafish.

(2) Exercise physiology. The majority of animals must move through their lives and environments. My research explores how animals, such as salmonids, must cope with changes in climate as well as diet. In this work we aim to link behaviour and data from challenging exercise to changes in animal health. Goals include understanding how changes in water temperatures and flow in the Arctic will affect northern fishes. We also aim to understand how ‘new’ food sources, such as animal-free foods, affect exercise and ageing. In this we are also currently exploring the role of diet, gut microbiome and exercise in animal health.

(3) Toxicology. Human activities are contaminating everything from our ambient environments to our food. Our research focuses on how low levels of contaminants may change the behaviour of animals in subtle ways, such as in their temperament. We are currently endeavoring to predict how such changes will affect ecosystems. My lab has or has had diverse regional, national and international funding, and collaborators from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment Canada, petrochemical companies, and food manufacturers.

Keith Tierney featured in International Innovation


Zoology 241 (Animal Physiology), Biology 341 (Ecotoxicology), School of Public Health 522 (Principles of Toxicology)


BIOL 341 - Ecotoxicology

An overview of the adverse effects of chemicals or physical agents on biological systems in an ecological context. This course takes a multidisciplinary approach to understanding biological effects and their assessment. Prerequisites: BIOL 208; ZOOL 241 or PHYSL 210 or 212 or 214; and CHEM 261.

ZOOL 241 - Animal Physiology I: Homeostasis

Survey of physiological systems that regulate levels of gases, food, energy, temperature, water, and ions. Examples from invertebrates and vertebrates. Prerequisite: BIOL 107 or SCI 100. This course may not be taken for credit if credit has been obtained in PHYSL 210 or 212.

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