Hynes Lectures

Louis Hynes 19.jpg

2019 Hynes lecturer: Dr. louis Bernatchez

Louis Bernatchez is an evolutionary biologist specialized in genomics, conservation and evolution of fish in the Department of Biology at Laval University. He is the Director of the Canada Research Chair in Genomics and Aquatic Resource Conservation and has received several prestigious awards including: the ABQ Georges Préfontaine Award, the ACFAS Michel-Jurdant Award, the Marie-Victorin Quebec Award and the Molecular Ecology Prize. He is an elected member of the Royal Society of Canada and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has published 440 scientific papers to date and his work has been cited more than 30,000 times, making him one of the most influential researchers on the world stage in his field of research. He co-founded the journal Evolutionary Applications and has been its chief editor since its inception in 2008. He also recently founded "Environmental DNA", which is the very first journal specialized in the publication of research using the analysis of environmental DNA in all its forms.


Comparing environmental DNA (eDNA) with conventional methods for bio-monitoring fish communities

146 Loring Bailey Hall, UNB Fredericton
Tuesday,  November 12th, 2019 at 7 PM

Accurate data on distribution and abundance are critical for conservation and management of biodiversity. In aquatic ecosystems, several inventory methods, such as gillnet, trawler and hydro-acoustic surveys, are widely used to estimate those parameters. Despite their positive assets, these methods are not without constraints and limitations. For instance, they can be invasive, costly in terms of material and human resources, may cause unwanted mortality in communities studied as well as being subject to size and species selection bias. Others such as hydro-acoustic methods may leave uncertainties regarding species composition. Environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis, which consists of detecting DNA traces released by species in their environment, is a new, potentially very powerful approach that can be used as a non-invasive, less costly, and perhaps more accurate alternative or in complement to conventional bio-moniytoring methods. Yet, eDNA methods potentially come with their own caveats and therefore, there is a need for rigorous comparisons with conventional inventory methods. In this talk, I will explain what eDNA is, how it can be analysed and how the observations obtained from it compare with those obtained by conventional methods for monitoring freshwater and marine fish communities in different contexts including environmental assessment, commercial fisheries and whale conservation.

Scientific Lecture:

Harnessing the power of (epi)genomics for conservation and management of aquatic resources: are the promises being fulfilled?

146 Loring Bailey Hall, UNB Fredericton
Wednesday, November 13th, 2019 at 11:30 AM 

New sequencing technologies have led to the development of powerful genomic tools that are now being routinely used in studies pertaining to population biology of aquatic species. These tools also hold the promise to potentially revolutionize fisheries management and conservation by (i) scaling-up genome coverage for any species, leading to improved estimates of population genetic parameters; (ii) identifying markers under natural selection to define management units based on adaptive criteria; (iii) simplifying while improving the efficiency of community biomonitoring. While the number of studies applying genomics has been steadily increasing, the feasibility of truly putting these tools into practice to inform decision making for conservation and management purposes is regularly being questioned. By presenting recent empirical cases studies from my own work on exploited species, the presentation will focuses explicitly on whether the promises offered by these new methods have been fulfilled. Globally, I will argue that such studies do demonstrate that genomics can successfully be implemented to address questions of very applied relevance for fisheries management and conservation. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen how such useful genomic information from a management standpoint will be considered into policy making, given the operational and/economic constraints linked to either conventional hatchery practices or current management units that have often been delineated largely on administrative, non-science-based criteria.


2018 Hynes Lecturer: Dr. Margaret A. Palmer

Margaret A. PALMER is a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Director of the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center. Her research has focused on coastal and freshwater ecosystems with an emphasis on restoration of rivers, streams, and wetlands. She is an international leader in restoration ecology, has 175 peer-reviewed articles and led the 2nd Edition of the Foundations of Restoration Ecology, a widely used text. Palmer is also known for her work at the interface of science and policy, having served as a technical adviser and innovator that helps build solution-focused teams to solve problems that have social, legal, policy, and scientific aspects. As Director of SESYNC she leads efforts to champion new approaches for fostering research collaborations between social and natural scientists on problems at the interface of people and the environment. Palmer’s work has been supported primarily by the National Science Foundation with additional funding from other federal agencies and foundations. She serves on numerous scientific advisory and editorial boards including the Water Sciences & Technology Board of the National Academies of Science and the journals Restoration Ecology and Science. Her awards include AAAS Fellow, Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, Ecological Society of America (ESA) Fellow, Lilly Fellow, the Society of Freshwater Science (SFS) Award of Excellence, the ESA Sustainability Science Award, SFS Fellow, and the Ruth Patrick Award from the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography. She has been an invited speaker in numerous and diverse settings including regional and international forums, science-diplomacy venues (e.g., in North Korea), and popular outlets such as the Steven Colbert show.


Restoration, watershed context, and biogeochemical processes: from streams to wetlands

Despite the essential role that water plays in life, humans have degraded ecosystems to such an extent that the quantity or quality of water in streams, rivers and wetlands is at risk worldwide. In response, efforts to restore degraded aquatic systems have grown dramatically. While many restoration projects have focused primarily on ecological structure, restoration in practice has its scientific roots firmly in ecology and related fields that emphasize the role of ecological processes and landscape context in determining the self-sustainability of ecosystems. Without recovery of basic ecosystem processes including interactions at watershed scales, restoration is unlikely to lead to self-sustainability. I will provide a brief overview of restoration approaches and outcomes in the context of hydrologic and biogeochemical processes followed by several case studies as examples concluding with research needed to move restoration science forward.

146 Loring Bailey Hall, UNB Biology Department, Fredericton - Tuesday, November 6 between 11 am - 12 pm.

Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre (QNC), Room 0101/1103A, University of Waterloo - Wednesday, November 7 between
11 am - 12 pm.


2017 Hynes Lecturer: Dr. Kirk Winemiller

Dr. Kirk Winemiller is Regents Professor in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences at Texas A&M University. His research is focused on fish population and community ecology, life history strategies, and food web ecology with emphasis on rivers, streams and estuaries. He also studies evolutionary ecology, including adaptive radiations and convergent evolution in tropical fishes. Winemiller and his collaborators have conducted field research at locations throughout Texas, Central America, South America, Africa, and Asia. He has collaborated with numerous international researchers and students, with dozens visiting his Aquatic Ecology Lab at Texas A&M for professional exchanges and research collaborations. Winemiller has served on numerous scientific committees reviewing ecological and policy issues associated with management of freshwater resources in Texas, California, and other regions. 
Winemiller obtained BA and MSc degrees from Miami University of Ohio and PhD from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to joining the faculty at Texas A&M University, he was a research associate with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Winemiller teaches graduate courses in population dynamics and community ecology, and undergraduate courses in ecology. He has trained 45 PhD and MSc students during 25 years at Texas A&M. In 2007 he was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was awarded the Ecological Society of America’s Mercer Award, Texas Chapter American Fisheries Society’s Award for Outstanding Fisheries Research, and Texas A&M’s Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Graduate Teaching, Vice Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching, Vice Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Research, Dean’s Outstanding Achievement Award for International Impact. Bush Excellence Award for International Teaching, President’s Award for Service to International Students, and Association of Former Students Award of Research Excellence. He was designated a TAMU AgriLife Faculty Fellow and twice was awarded U.S. Fulbright.

public lecture:

The Weird, Wonderful World of Tropical Fishes and Current Threats to Their Survival

Nearly half of the world’s 30,000 fish species live in lakes and rivers that cover just 1% of Earth’s surface, and the rest are found in oceans that blanket 70% of our planet.  The vast majority of freshwater fishes are found in the tropics, and about one third occur in three great river basins – the Amazon, Congo, and Mekong.  Hundreds of new fish species from tropical freshwaters are formally described and named each year.  Tropical fishes display unusual and sometimes bizarre strategies for feeding, defense, reproduction, and environmental tolerance – resulting in specialized ecological niches that are unparalleled in temperate fish faunas.  Unfortunately, tropical rivers and their remarkable fishes are increasingly impacted by human actions, including construction of hydroelectric dams, mining, overfishing, and introduction of nonindigenous invasive species.  This lecture will provide an overview of the ecological diversity of tropical freshwater fishes, while advancing the idea that convergent evolution in form and function is widespread.  The concept of a periodic table of niches is offered as a framework to study ecological diversity and evolutionary convergence.  The lecture also will illustrate some of the major threats to tropical fishes, and discuss prospects for mitigating their impacts. 

146 Loring Bailey Hall, UNB Biology Department, Fredericton - Thursday, October 26 between 7 – 8 pm. 

Science Lecture:

Does pulsing hydrology promote productivity and resilience of river food webs?

Strongly and regularly pulsing ecosystems seem to have greater productivity and resilience to human disturbances than less variable or irregularly varying systems.  For example, tropical lowland rivers have higher fisheries yields per unit habitat when compared to lakes, and in the marine realm, coastal upwelling areas are more productive than coral reefs and pelagic areas.  Why does the annual flood pulse of tropical river-floodplain ecosystems promote productive and resilient fish communities?  Theoretical food-web models support the idea that spatial heterogeneity and between-habitat trophic linkages associated with mobile consumers have a stabilizing effect on community dynamics.  In rivers, temporal and spatial aspects of heterogeneity are tightly linked and have comparable effects.  This lecture will explore mechanisms that promote productivity and resilience of fluvial ecosystems, especially in the tropics.  Of course there are limits to the resilience of river-floodplain fisheries, and over-exploitation can result in regime shifts whereby catches become dominated by small, short-lived, species with opportunistic life history strategies.  Moreover, fish stocks in oligotrophic ecosystems seem to be more sensitive to overharvest than those in more productive systems.  One could argue that all ecosystems are, to varying degrees, influenced by pulsing drivers, and development of a general theory could improve natural resource management.

232 Hazen Hall, UNB Science Department, University of New Brunswick, Saint John - Thursday, October 26 between 11:30am - 1 pm

146 Loring Bailey Hall, UNB Biology Department, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton - Friday, October 27 between 3 - 4 pm


2016 Hynes Lecturer: Dr. Emma Johnston

Dr. Johnston is head of the Applied Marine and Estuarine Ecology Lab at the University of New South Wales and a rising star in the field of harbour and estuarine ecology. She might be best known to the public as a co-presenter of the Foxtel/BBC television series Coast Australia.
She is an expert in how humans impact harbours, coasts and estuarine habitats and has an exciting program that both expands our understanding of these systems and provides recommendations for harbour management. Her laboratory is the Sydney Harbour, one of the busiest ports in the southern hemisphere.

Public Lecture

The Coastal Squeeze: Problems and potential for our nearshore marine biodiversity

Coastal marine ecosystems are both highly diverse and highly productive. Humans rely on these ecosystems for a range of services such as food, recreational amenity, waste disposal and tourism. Coastal ecosystems are also the most intense areas of industrial and urban development today. Increasing trade by sea and advanced technologies for resource extraction are converging with a strong trend towards coastal population growth to place intense pressure on these environments. Human activities have introduced an array of stressors that may affect both the diversity and functioning of marine ecosystems and, in some extreme cases, cause ecosystem collapse. Our growing use of the coast is therefore a crucial issue, not only in terms of contested space, but also in terms of cumulative threats posing serious problems for ecosystem integrity. Key to the future sustainable development of the coast is the development of accurate and efficient diagnostic tools for assessing ecosystem ‘health’ and novel eco-engineering designs for coastal constructions.  Professor Johnston will outline ways in which the latest research is helping to provide solutions to the coastal squeeze.

Mary H. Oland Theatre, New Brunswick Museum, Market Square, Saint John - Thursday, October 6 between 7 - 8 pm

Science Lecture

Multistressor interactions and bio-functional monitoring tools for estuaries

Estuaries are among the most highly disturbed of all aquatic environments due to their proximity to urban, agricultural and industrial activity. Aquatic communities are exposed to multiple stressors and it is vital that the ecological consequences are identified and distinguished using a range of observational and manipulative techniques. I will present our research, combining the disciplines of ecology and ecotoxicology, to identify drivers of marine invasion success, the plasticity of environmental niche space, stressor interactions and contaminant impacts on ecosystem functioning. In addition, I will detail how molecular approaches (targeted gene and meta-transcriptomics) are enhancing our capacity to observe biodiversity, community connectivity and ecological change. Molecular approaches are now sufficiently advanced to provide, not only equivalent information to that collected using traditional morphological approaches, but an order of magnitude bigger, better, and faster data.

146 Bailey Hall, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton - Wednesday, October 5 between 3 - 4 pm

125 Hazen Hall, University of New Brunswick, Saint John - Thursday, October 6 between 11:30am - 12:30 pm