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Hugh MacIsaac's


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MacIsaac Lab Interests

We are interested in a broad variety of questions pertaining to invasion biology, particularly with respect to aquatic ecosystems (inland lakes, Great Lakes, marine coastal habitats).  While most of our tests are based on aquatic organisms, we occasionally stray from this model and utilize terrestrial taxa or systems (beetles, birds).  Our questions range from fundamental questions such as what determinants affect species invasion patterns in general, to more applied topics such as how can we best prevent ship-mediated invasions of the Great Lakes or spread of species to inland lakes.

Our fundamental work is important because a large array of factors act individually or in unision to influence invasion success, and many early studies that addressed determinants of invasion success (particularly the concepts made popular in Elton's book during the 1950s) are potentially confounded by factors including propagule pressure.  Invasion biology is today providing excellent models that can be tested experimentally (e.g. invasional meltdown, enemy release hypothesis), and studies of lakes are particularly important to this effort since they have clearly defined borders, variable environmental states, and readily measured vectors.

Current Supervision: 2 postdoctoral fellows, 5 PhD and 4 MSc students.

I am Director of the NSERC Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network II, a consortium of faculty members from across Canada who are working on alien species projects. Visit our web site below:

Canadian Aquatic Invasive Species Network


Site last updated on Mar. 18, 2014.


Potential opportunities exist for students in the following areas:

  • modelling and predicting invasions of lakes by nonindigenous molluscs, zooplankton and fish;
  • application of modern genetic techniques (barcoding, pyrosequencing, microarray) to detect alien invasive and native species;
  • studies of invasion pathways and vectors;
  • anatomical and physiological adjustments of invading species in novel environments;
  • tests of inland dispersal of zooplankton and other invading species, using a combination of GIS, gravity 'attraction' models, and genetic tools
  • development of hierarchical models of invasion incorporating propagule pressure, environmental suitability, and ecological integration



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