2017 Hynes Lecturer: Dr. Kirk Winemiller
Dr. Kirk WinemillerDr. 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.
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.
View the recorded lecture here
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
View the recorded lecture here