Lab members

Boris Espinasse – Post Doctoral Researcher; Monell & Vetlesen Foundation

I am a biological oceanographer focusing on biophysical interactions, zooplankton ecology and trophic structures in marine ecosystems. I use several types of approaches to characterize zooplankton community dynamics, including optical instruments (e.g. LOPC, LISST, ZooScan), stable isotopes and particle tracking modelling.

I completed my Phd in Marseille, France, studying zooplankton size structure in two contrasting environments, the Mediterranean Sea and the Antarctic Peninsula. I then moved to northern Norway for a post-doc investigating the advection dynamics of the dominant Calanus species, the main food source for cod larvae. A multidisciplinary approach is for me a necessity to understand the dynamics of lower trophic levels, and I do so by combining physics, biogeochemistry and ecology.

My current project at UBC is a perfect example of that. We are looking at stable isotope signatures in the food web from phytoplankton to fish at the scale of the North Pacific, with the objective to deliver indices for salmon feeding conditions, and thus contribute to improved forecasting of at sea survival.

E-mail: bespinasse [at] eoas.ubc.ca; Research Overviewhttps://www.researchgate.net/profile/Boris_Espinasse

Wade Smith –  Post Doctoral Researcher; Hakai Coastal Initiative

I am a fish/fisheries ecologist investigating spatial dynamics and life history traits to better understand how these factors contribute to the persistence and resilience of populations and may change in response to disturbance or environmental variation. I use multiple tools in my research that include and often integrate theoretical modelling, empirical field studies, new technologies, and manipulative laboratory experiments. As a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of British Columbia, I am currently analyzing naturally-occurring chemical markers (trace elements, stable isotopes) to trace the movement patterns and habitat use of Pacific herring and salmon within the marine environment. These highly mobile fishes undertake large-scale migrations that link life stages, habitats, populations, communities, and ecosystems. Insight into the extent and direction of movements, mixing, and habitat use can inform and advance conservation and management strategies at ecologically relevant spatial scales.

E-mail: w.smith [at] oceans.ubc.ca; Research Overview: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Wade_Smith; Twitter: https://twitter.com/wds_2015

Samantha James – MSc candidate; NSERC & Mitacs-Tula scholar  

I am a marine ecologist and Hakai Research Assistant investigating the foraging ecology of juvenile sockeye salmon during their first few months at sea. The early marine phase is a critical period of a salmon’s life history and can be used to forecast adult returns and better predict changes in salmon populations over time. My work, in partnership with the Hakai Institute’s Juvenile Salmon Program, focuses on the spatial and temporal variability in juvenile sockeye diets within the Discovery Islands and Johnstone Strait. Almost the entire Fraser River sockeye outmigration passes through these narrow straits and channels, and yet little is known about the conditions the juveniles face in these waters. Through extensive field work, detailed taxonomy and statistical analyses, my findings will improve our ability to relate the conditions experienced during the early marine phase to overall population dynamics for this iconic species.

 

 

Vanessa Fladmark – MSc candidate; Aboriginal Graduate Fellowship Awardee

 

Vanessa is researching juvenile pink and chum salmon diets during their early marine migration in coastal British Columbia. The complex area of the Discovery Islands and Johnstone Strait includes a range of productivity regimes, which can lead to shifts in feeding behaviour during this vulnerable period for salmon. Studying multiple species gives insights to how these co-migrating salmon are adapting to relevant changes in their environment and prey availability.

 

 

Yuliya Kuzmenko – PhD candidate; NSERC scholar

I am a PhD student in biological oceanography. My current research interests lie in developing methods for deciphering fish life histories from biological proxies, such as otoliths, scales and bones, connecting these data with environmental conditions, and building models to predict changes in fish populations with an overarching goal of sustainable management. My PhD thesis is being conducted in collaboration with Hakai institute, as a part of the Juvenile Salmon Program. In this work I am focused on investigating drivers of spatio-temporal trends in juvenile sockeye early marine growth and implications for survival.

 

 

Jessica Garzke – Post Doctoral Researcher; Mitacs-Tula scholar 

I completed my Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany. My Ph.D. thesis “Climate change effects on zooplankton body size: a range of experimental approaches” included experimental work with natural plankton communities using mesocosm experiments to investigate multiple and interacting environmental factors, temperature, ocean acidification and nutrient balance. I found that interacting temperature and pH changes affect species- and age-specific zooplankton body size and community abundance. Further, I was able to identify that warming and ocean acidification leads to changes in the fatty acid profile in zooplankton and reduced fitness using RNA/DNA ratio. I also worked on how temperature and food chain length affects the net primary production and respiration of ecosystems extending the Metabolic Theory of Ecology in collaboration with Dr. Mary O’Connor (UBC).

 

Fernanda Colo Giannini – Post Doctoral Researcher; Hakai Coastal Initiative

I am a Marine Biologist with a PhD in Biological Oceanography. The main focus of my research has been on phytoplankton ecology and photo-physiology, primary production, ocean color and remote sensing of the ocean, coastal water bio-optics, and riverine-coastal oceanography. My post-doctoral project under the Hakai Coastal Initiative aims to combine high resolution satellite remote sensing with in situ oceanographic sampling to examine the spatial and temporal variability of the physical, chemical and biological properties of the coastal oceans from British Columbia to Southeast Alaska. My research aims to implement a classification of the coastal ocean according to regional biogeochemical properties; identify the dominant bottom-up control processes driving regional biogeochemical dynamics ; and determine the implications for primary and secondary productivity, particularly with respect to foraging habitat available to migrating juvenile salmon.

 

David Costalago – Post Doctoral Researcher; MITACS-Pacific Salmon Foundation scholar

I am a MITACS Accelerate postdoctoral fellow researching plankton food web pathways to herring and juvenile salmon in the Salish Sea. I will use fatty acid, and bulk and compound-specific stable isotope analyses to parameterize the pelagic food web and to resolve the energy pathways in order to improve ecosystem models.

I received my PhD in Marine Sciences and Oceanography from the University of Barcelona in 2012 after completing a thesis on the trophic ecology of small pelagic fish in the Mediterranean Sea. I used techniques such as stable isotopes and fatty acid analyses to describe the pelagic food-web in the region, with a focus on the early life stages of anchovy and sardine.

Since my PhD I have worked in South Africa, France and Sweden, gaining experience working on the nutritional condition and growth of coastal fish larvae and on the reproductive biology of tropical tuna. Before coming to Vancouver, I was at Stockholm University investigating the potential conflict between seal and fisheries in the Baltic Sea using Ecopath with Ecosim.

Hayley Dosser – Post Doctoral Researcher; MITACS-Tula Foundation scholar

I am investigating small- and large-scale ocean physics for the central British Columbia coastal waters, focused on upwelling and water properties that affect juvenile salmon survival rates. I am working with observations from CTD surveys and moorings, and will be leading an ocean glider field campaign in Spring 2018.

 

 

 

Lauren Portner – Research Technician / Assistant 

Lauren graduated with a BSc in biology from the University of Victoria.  She has spent many years working for the Hakai Institute’s Juvenile Salmon Program in Johnstone Strait, with a base at Salmon Coast Field Station, in partnership with UBC and the University of Toronto, among others.  Lauren has worked closely with Salmon Coast Field Station and has lead their long-term sea louse monitoring program that aims to determine louse loads on out-migrating juvenile pink and chum.  In addition to this, Lauren has worked with Sea to Cedar in running their Catch, Clip, Release Program.  This project is focused on filling in the salmon genetic database of rivers and streams along the BC coast through catch and release efforts.  Her interests in terrestrial ecosystems has led her to work on the KHFN/S2C Bear Project with the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation, in collaboration with Sea to Cedar.  This initiative uses non-invasive hair snare stations to determine the number, sex ratio, diet and age class of grizzly and black bears in the Wakeman River watershed. In the Pelagic Ecosystems Lab, Lauren will play a key role in facilitating field and laboratory programs on the BC coast. Her prior experience will no doubt contribute to her new position. In her spare time, Lauren loves to hike the North Shore with her dog, Tucker.  She can be found on the third floor of the AERL building.

Caterina R. Giner – Post Doctoral Researcher; Hakai Coastal Initiative

I am a marine microbial biologist and I obtained my PhD in Marine Sciences and Oceanography at the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM-CSIC) in Barcelona. I am interested in understanding the processes that drive the assembly and dynamics of natural microbial communities, and linking them with ecological function. My research has been focused on community patterns of marine microbial eukaryotes (i.e., protists) along temporal and spatial gradients using amplicon sequencing techniques. Protists play multiple fundamental roles in aquatic ecosystems, including being the dominant primary producers, consumers, and decomposers, and they are essential linkers in aquatic food webs.As a Hakai Costal Initiative post-doc at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries (UBC), I will be investigating the seasonal succession dynamics and variability of protists in response to bottom-up forcing, with the aim to link these dynamics to higher trophic levels in the marine food webs.

 

 

Jacqueline Maud – Post Doctoral Researcher; Hakai Coastal Initiative

I am a plankton ecologist with interests in zooplankton population dynamics, feeding ecology, sources of mortality and the effect of climate change on zooplankton distributions and ecology.  I completed my PhD on the population dynamics and importance of mortality in the key marine copepod Calanus helgolandicus at Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) in the UK. I interrogated the station L4 marine time-series (now spanning 30 years) from the western English Channel to investigate seasonal and temporal variability and to understand the balance between births and deaths. I focused on the importance of different sources of mortality, including non-predator (using vital stains to distinguish between live and dead copepods) and predator (via molecular gut content analysis to determine gelatinous zooplankton predators of C. helgolandicus). My postdoctoral research will build on these molecular biology techniques (metabarcoding, Next Generation Sequencing, high-throughput sequencing) to develop and implement DNA-based approaches to understand the zooplankton feeding ecology of British Columbia coastal waters – basically to understand what eats what!

Twitter: @DrJackieMaud; Researchgate profilehttps://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jacqueline_Maud

Jessica Schaub – MSc candidate; Aboriginal Graduate Fellowship Awardee

I am a biological oceanographer with a special interest in jellyfish. During my undergraduate degree, I developed a novel method for measuring jellyfish aggregations using drones. Now, I am working to resolve the diet of the bloom-forming moon jellyfish Aurelia sp. during both the medusa and polyp stage of the life history. I will use a combination of biomolecular markers (i.e. fatty acids and stable isotopes), genomic sequencing, and microscopy. My work will help determine the role that jellyfish play in coastal food web, which is largely unresolved and could have implications at many trophic levels due to their high biomass and generalist feeding strategies.

Researchgate profile: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jessica_Schaub3

Email: j.schaub(at)oceans.ubc.ca

 

 

Caroline Graham – MSc candidate; Monell & Vetlesen Foundation

I am an MSc student studying salmon prey fields in the North Pacific. By examining historical data, I will be working to answer some of the many questions surrounding the understudied marine phase of the salmon life cycle. Through analyses involving biological, physical oceanographic, and climatic data I will be examining the conditions salmon face when they migrate out to sea. Before starting my masters I worked on a collaborative project with the University of British Columbia and Fisheries and Oceans Canada to study how different diets affect juvenile salmon health and how this manifests in the fish through fatty acids and stable isotopes. I also worked with the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission to develop and plan for the International Year of the Salmon. This initiative reaches across the Northern Hemisphere and aspires to catalyze a burst of research and outreach around salmon and their connection to people in a changing world with a focal year in 2019. My goal is to continue to bring attention to these culturally, ecologically, and economically important fish and to better understand what is happening to salmon during this time of rapid social and environmental change.

Thomas Smith – MSc candidate

The focus of my research is to establish an empirical relationship between salmonid smolt production and interannual variation in stream discharge for the Pacific Northwest. To do so, I will be conducting a meta-analysis of long-term smolt production datasets with paired discharge data, obtained from both primary and grey literature. I will be applying a stock-recruitment relationship to analyze the data, using flow as a covariate. Specifically, I am hoping to identify how extreme discharge events, such as seasonal high-flows and summer low-flows, may be limiting juvenile salmonid productivity. Results obtained from this work could be used to help establish minimum flow requirements for streams being exploited for human needs.

My passion for salmonid ecology was sparked while growing up fly fishing in the southwestern corner of Alberta. This lead me to complete my BSc (Honours) in Marine Biology and Environment, Sustainability & Society at Dalhousie University, as well as a post-degree diploma in Fisheries and Aquaculture at Vancouver Island University. Since completing both programs, I have worked with Pacific salmon through the public, private, and academic sector in various locations around British Columbia.

Kyra St Pierre – Post Doctoral Researcher; Hakai Coastal Initiative

I am a biogeochemist with a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of Alberta. My primary research focus is on understanding the cycling of carbon, nutrients and contaminants across and between terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems. For my Ph.D., I examined the biogeochemical impacts of enhanced glacial melt across the Lake Hazen watershed in the Canadian High Arctic, from glacial headwaters through a large lake and to the nearshore environment. My postdoctoral research with the Hakai Coastal Initiative will build on some of these ideas, aiming to understand how the quality and quantity of freshwater exports from the coastal temperate rainforests along B.C.’s central coast change over time and space.

 

 

 

 

Jacob Lerner – PhD Candidate

I am a marine scientist with an interest in trophic ecology, biochemical tracers, and the impacts of climate change on marine food webs. I came to UBC to pursue a Ph.D. researching Chinook salmon ecology off the BC Coast by utilizing fatty acid as well as bulk/compound specific stable isotope analysis. I aim to investigate Chinook trophic ecology and habitat-use and to connect these analyses with regional food web dynamics. I am also interested in using these tools to examine the quality of Chinook salmon as prey for threatened resident killer whale populations.

Originally from Connecticut, I completed my M.Sc. at the University of New England, researching the use of stable isotopes to infer the diets of grey seals in the Northwest Atlantic. I have always had a passion for marine life, and while working at a lab at McGill University I became interested in fisheries research the natural way: by catching and then dissecting hundreds of fish. I have been hooked on that feeling ever since.

Email: j.lerner(at)oceans.ubc.ca

Researchgate profile: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jacob_Lerner

Natalie Mahara – Research Technician;

I am a biological oceanographer with a particular fondness for zooplankton. These charismatic microfauna play a critical role in linking environmental conditions and primary producers to higher-level consumers. I completed my M.Sc. thesis at UBC in 2018, which compared zooplankton communities across a range of productivity regimes in coastal British Columbia.

I am the research technician for my current project, based in Baynes Sound, British Columbia. Baynes Sound is designated by DFO as an ‘Ecologically and Biologically Sensitive Area’ and is particularly important in acting as a nursery for young herring. We are aiming to provide baseline information about microplastic concentration and composition in the water column, as well as determine microplastic uptake by zooplankton and juvenile herring. For this project researchers at the IOF will be working closely with the Association for Denman Island Marine Stewards and the Guardian Watchmen of the K’omoks First Nation.

 

 

 

Alumni

 

Natalie Mahara – MSc graduate; NSERC & Mitacs-Tula scholar

Thesis: ”  Zooplankton community composition across a range of productivity regimes in coastal British Columbia.” Download thesis here.