This project asks how habitat conditions and landscape structure affect the dispersal behavior of aquatic insects including both dragonflies and backswimmers. We know little about how landscape structure affects aquatic communities but some evidence suggests that forest habitats can act as barriers to movement in dragonflies and that forest cover over aquatic habitats decreases their ability to locate ponds. In dragonflies we are interested in understanding how landscape structure, particularly the mix of open and forested habitats, affects their movement and habitat selection behavior. This study will provide insights into how changing human land-use will affect aquatic communities. A second study will assess how the presence of predators within a pond affects dispersal behavior in backswimmers. Together, these studies will shed light on the ways that how local conditions affect the connectivity among habitat patches, a critical issue in protecting populations within a region.
Prof. Marie-Josée Fortin, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto
Dr. Shannon McCauley, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto