Adam Cook » People
I am interested in the effect of environmental factors on the dynamics of diadromous fish populations. More specifically, I want to know the processes governing a fish’s response to its environment and how the individual’s inherent responses correlate to changes in life-history strategy at the population level. As well, I am interested in using results from lab-based studies to better understand genotype x environment interactions for determining critical habitat as well as making predictions of fish dispersal or migration at different life-stages. Diadromous fish populations are of interest to me because they have such diverse and complex life-history strategies, in addition to their high level of inherent plasticity.
My thesis research is directed toward determining the role of environmental variability in altering survival and growth of individuals from small populations as well as developing tools for the estimation of population parameters in rare and elusive fish species. The model species I am using is the endangered Atlantic Whitefish (Coregonus huntsmani). Historical data indicate that Atlantic Whitefish made diadromous migrations from the Tusket and Petite Rivers in southwestern Nova Scotia, however, it has been decades since Atlantic Whitefish were last observed in the Tusket River. The Petite River watershed still possess some Atlantic Whitefish although the numbers are suggested to be reduced through the interaction of environmental acidification, introduction of non-indigenous predatory fish species, and the construction of dams without adequate fish passage. My work uses the progeny of captive broodstock to identify the effects of low pH and temperature perturbations on growth and survival of Atlantic whitefish through ontogeny. Additionally, the age or life-stage that tolerance to full strength seawater will be determined for making inferences on the timing of downstream diadromous migrations. Experiments will be performed in a lab I designed to meet the demands of rearing an endangered fish, and that allows full control of environmental pH, temperature and salinity.