Derek K. Gray

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I am an aquatic ecologist with an interest in studying the factors responsible for controlling the distribution and abundance of planktonic organisms found in lakes and ponds. My research interests fall into three main areas:
  1. Assessing the potential impacts of environmental change on aquatic communities
  2. Understanding the factors that influence community responses to environmental stressors
  3. Understanding the impact of dispersal and colonization processes on the distribution and abundance of plankton species
I use a mix of field experiments, synoptic surveys, and time series analyses to test and refine hypotheses.

I am  currently a postdoctoral fellow at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California Santa Barbara. My supervisor at NCEAS is Dr. Stephanie Hampton. My postdoctoral research will evaluate the effects of climate change on endemic plankton communities in one of the world’s largest lakes: Lake Baikal, Siberia. Using a unique 60-year data set I will determine the main environmental drivers of zooplankton community dynamics and evaluate whether endemic species are likely to be replaced by common cosmopolitan species. My analyses will contribute to a collaborative project aimed at evaluating the potential impacts of climate change on the food web of this distinct ecosystem.

I completed my Ph.D. in the Department of Biology at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. My advisor was Professor Shelley Arnott, and my research examined the factors that control the response of freshwater zooplankton communities to environmental stressors. I used zooplankton communities in Boreal Shield lakes recovering from anthropogenic acidification as a model system for this research. While past research focused predominantly on local factors (water chemistry, biotic interactions) as the main determinants of zooplankton community structure, my Ph.D. research demonstrated that landscape-level processes, such as dispersal, also play an important role. sunset

ballast sediment I conducted my M.Sc. research at the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research at the University of Windsor, in Windsor, Ontario. My advisor there was Professor Hugh MacIsaac and my research focused on controlling the spread of nonindigenous (exotic) species via ships' ballast water. As part of my M.Sc. research I conducted laboratory and ship-based experiments that tested the role of ballast water exchange in preventing the introduction of invasive species. This work influenced the development of policy for ballast management in the Great Lakes due to its inclusion in several policy reports such as the US National Research Council report on Great Lakes Shipping Trade and Aquatic Invasive Species. I also contributed to literature reviews on invasive species in the Great Lakes basin and the use of genetic tools to identify the geographic sources of these species.

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