My overall research program focuses on understanding the natural biogeochemical cycling of elements in the environment, and the human disruptions of these cycles. For the past 30 years, I have been a collaborator in whole-ecosystem experimentation at the world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area in northwestern Ontario, examining the environmental impacts of acid rain, reservoir creation, and mercury emissions. Since 2004, we have also been determining why some high and sub Arctic marine animals and freshwater fishes contain concentrations of methylated mercury (the organic and toxic forms of mercury) high enough to cause exposure risks to northern peoples consuming them as traditional foods. Most recently, we have been focusing our research efforts on determining how accelerated climate change in polar regions is altering terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem productivity, greenhouse gas (CO2, CH4, N2O) emissions from landscapes, water quality, and contaminant loadings and biomagnification. We have also begun a project examining the relationship between ecosystem function and biodiversity in natural and restored prairie pothole wetlands.
Please see the sidebar for more details of my past and ongoing research programs, as well as publications that have resulted from these research programs.
An introduction to biogeochemical cycles in the environment. Discusses processes and reactions governing cycles in the atmosphere, lithosphere, terrestrial ecosystems, freshwater wetlands and lakes, river estuaries, and the oceans. Outlines the global cycles of water, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur. Group discussions will incorporate current topics in anthropogenic alterations of natural cycles that lead to ecosystem degradation. Prerequisites: CHEM 101 or SCI 100 and BIOL 208; MICRB 265 strongly recommended.Winter Term 2021
This course examines how humankind's collective activities, including altering the climate, have significantly affected the natural planetary balance. We will discuss human population growth and unsustainable resource use; the movement of pollutants through the atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere; the impacts these stressors have on ecosystem services and human health; and how certain impacts have been and can be mitigated by environmental policies and laws. Groups of students will produce a short video documentary on a topic related to how humans impact their environment. Prerequisite: BIOL 208.Fall Term 2020