Students Courses Research Cool Stuff Publications Writing Guide


In nature's infinite book of secrecy, a little can I read.

-- Shakespeare

Barry R. Taylor
Associate Professor

Department of Biology,

St. Francis Xavier University

Room 315, J Bruce Brown Hall

2320 Notre Dame Avenue

Antigonish, Nova Scotia B2G 2W5


     Telephone: 1-902-867-3873

     Laboratory Telephone: 1-902-867-3748

Take a look at the Haiku about ecology laboratories written by finishing students in Introductory Ecology

Rivers Research Laboratory






Random Cool Stuff


Guidance for Scientific Writing


Erin Wilson, from Ottawa, Ontario, a recent graduate of the Interdisciplinary Studies in Aquatic Resources program, spent her summer (and autumn!) studying how leaf litter decomposition in regional rivers and streams is influenced by leaf-feeding insects.  Erin set out litter samples in six watercourses and followed the loss of mass over time and colonization of the samples by shredding insects.  Erin’s experiments demonstrated remarkable acceleration of leaf decay by larvae of the caddisfly Lepidostoma togatum, which congregate by the dozens on leaf litter in the spring.  These experiments demonstrate unusual dominance of a key ecosystem process by a single species (a “keystone shredder”) and suggest severe resource scarcity for aquatic organisms in the highly disturbed rivers of Nova Scotia.

Erin is planning to continue her education in freshwater biology.

Taylor Mason, from Charlottetown, PEI, also a graduate of the Interdisciplinary Studies in Aquatic Resources program, spent her summer studying hydrology and ecology of a highly modified wetland near Antigonish.  Taylor completed the last sampling season of a multi-year study of how the wetland has responded to construction of a four-lane highway along its northern side.  Infilling, altered drainage, and construction of a new channel for fish passage have profoundly changed the wetland habitat.  Taylor monitored outflow volume from the wetland and transport of suspended material, and examined the wetland as habitat for small fish, especially northern red-bellied dace.  The fish are surprisingly tolerant of low dissolved oxygen and high temperatures, and evidently use the wetland as spawning and rearing habitat.

Taylor has now entered the Master of Marine Management program at Dalhousie University.

Mallory MacDonnell, from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, a student in the Interdisciplinary Studies in Aquatic Resources program, spent the summer after her junior year helping catch predacious diving beetles (Dytiscidae) in a joint project with Randy Lauff.  These large, predatory beetles are common in ponds and wetlands but their variety and distribution in Nova Scotia are poorly known.  We're also testing a novel method of capturing beetles, giant water bugs and other aquatic insects using minnow traps baited with light sticks.  Mallory spent many evenings canoeing about in local wetlands, setting traps, and many mornings emptying them.

Mallory's poster about her work on predacious diving beetles won a Gold Award for Best Science Poster at the 12th Annual St. FX Student Research Day.  Well done, Mallory!

Mallory is now deep into an M.Sc. project on spruce budworm at University of New Brunswick.

Korey Mabee, shown here after several days without sleep, completed his Senior Project in the Aquatic Resources Program on the theory and practice of river restoration, using St. Mary's River, Guysborough County, as the example.  A poster of his work, presented at the 10th Annual Student Research Day won the Service Learning Prize for best poster on a community-based project. Well done, Korey!

Alicia Malone, from Aurora, Ontario, spent her summer looking at the hydrology and ecology of a wetland complex just outside Antigonish.  She monitored transport of dissolved and suspended material in the wetland outflow, especially in response to rainfall, and attempted to better understand when and why small fish, especially northern red-bellied dace, move in and out of the wetland from a nearby stream.

Alicia is deep in an M.Sc. program in immunology at Dalhousie University.

Stephen Pierce, from Woodstock, New Brunswick, spent a summer work term for his Integrated Studies in Aquatic Resources (ISAR) degree looking at physical habitat structure in eight stream reaches through-out Antigonish County, as part of a long-term study on the benefits of river restoration for brook trout populations.  Stephen assessed flow conditions, bottom composition and depth profiles in each reach to create a detailed image of the reach before restoration.  These data will be supplemented with functional measures of litter decomposition and retention as well as assessments of fish and benthic invertebrate communities.  Read more about this project HERE.

Andrea Flynn, from Stanley, New Brunswick, spent a summer looking at the effects of road construction on a wetland complex just outside Antigonish. She examined how marsh infilling and soil disturbance contributed dissolved ions and suspended sediments to the wetland outflow, documented use of the wetland by small fish, and even discovered a nest of a Ruddy Duck, previously unknown from this region.

Andrea completed a Master's in Marine Management at Dalhousie University, and is now an Associate with NEXUS Coastal Resource Management.

Graduate student Heather MacDonald, from Fort McMurray, Alberta, studied the effects of a new fish ladder on Waughs River, (Cumberland County, Nova Scotia), on the ecology of the upper river.  The ladder allows Atlantic salmon to pass an insurmountable waterfall and spawn in the upper river for the first time in 140 years.  Heather looked at how the return of salmon affects other fish populations, benthic invertebrates, and the processing of leaf litter in the river.  Heather successfully defended her thesis on 30 May 2013!  Read more about this project HERE, or read the Abstract from Heather's thesis HERE.





If you are interested in any of these projects or aquatic biology in general, please do come to see me.