Aquatic Ecology Across Scales

Jones Lab @ University of Notre Dame

In our lab, we emphasize how processes and interactions at one spatial or temporal scale contribute to emergent processes and properties at larger or longer scales. Most often the emergent processes we investigate are aquatic ecosystem services, including carbon burial, greenhouse gas emissions, nutrient removal, and recreational fisheries. Because water runs down hill, lakes are strongly affected by what occurs in their adjoining terrestrial environments or watersheds. In addition, land use and climate change are dramatically changing the type, quantity, and timing of matter flowing from land into lakes.

Organisms, such as algae, bacteria, and zooplankton, are responsible for nearly all metabolic activities and chemical transformations of matter that occur in aquatic environments. Therefore we often generate understanding at the individual or population scale, including genomic content and ecophysiological traits, to predict how the contributions of these organisms to ecosystem services will be altered under environmental change scenarios.

We also investigate the scaling of individual lake’s biogeochemistry to aggregate ecosystem services at regional or continental scales. Lakes play an important role in the global carbon cycle, and represent significant sources of greenhouse gases. However, our current approaches for estimating contributions of lakes at broad scales are only rudimentary. We focus on incorporating information about the surrounding landscape, e.g. hydrology and land use, to predict lake contributions to these globally important processes.

In all of our research endeavors, we seek to develop knowledge and tools for the prediction of lake ecosystem services under future climate and land use scenarios and to identify strategies for mitigation of undesirable aquatic environmental changes.