My research program focuses on understanding the genetic basis of evolutionary change. In particular I am concentrating on two major components of the evolutionary process. Firstly, I study how genetic differences among individuals lead to variation in the numbers and survival of their offspring (fitness). Secondly, I determine how those genetic differences can become partitioned between populations when they begin to diverge genetically into different species. Salmonid fishes (Atlantic salmon, Arctic charr, rainbow trout, brook charr) continue to be the models for most of this work because their biology makes them interesting candidates for genetic analysis.Learn More
My research program spans three themes:
1) Great Lakes Fish Ecology: This includes developmental biology, animal behaviour, fish habitat, effect of exotic species, species-at-risk, fish population and community dynamics, and the response of ecosystems to disturbance.
2) Science in Natural Resource Management: I focus on Indigenous resource management negotiations with Canada, Ontario, as well as Industry and Environmental NGOs.
3) Indigenous-Western Science Knowledge Systems: I critically examine the theoretical and practical basis for engagement between traditional knowledge holders and 'Western' scientists/managers.
Dr. Heyland's laboratory uses novel functional genomics approaches to study the endocrine and neuroendocrine systems of aquatic invertebrates. Specifically he investigates the function and evolution of hormonal and neurotransmitter signaling systems in the regulation of development and metamorphosis. His research includes evolutionary development studies of marine invertebrate metamorphosis, eco-toxicogenomic approached to understand endocrine disruption in aquatic ecosystems and water remediation technologies. These projects are integrated with several national and international collaborations ranging form basic scientific work to industry partnerships.Learn More
The current rates of environmental change experienced by animal populations are higher than have been experienced over much of fossil record. My laboratory investigates the factors that determine whether a population will adapt to a change in the environment without going extinct. Our current projects are:
1) Invasion biology, comparing scales of local genetic adaptation to exotic predators by prey with high and low dispersal potential.
2) Genomic selection and genome wide association analysis of growth, shape, pathogen resistant and life history traits in Atlantic salmon populations.
3) Assessing heritable variation in biological control of the salmon louse by two species of cleaner fish and co-operative behaviour by their client, Atlantic salmon.
Ongoing projects include:
1) Examining cardiac remodeling in zebrafish and trout in response to thermal acclimation.
2) Characterizing the role of the troponin complex in regulating the function of striated muscle.
3) Examining the function of the hagfish heart during prolonged anoxia exposure.
4) Examining the change in diaphragm function during the onset of heart failure.
5) Characterizing how bitumen exposure of sockeye salmon early life stages influences cardiac development and aerobic fitness.
Generally speaking, we are interested in understanding how biological structure, broadly defined to include structure of all biological forms, mitigates the stability and functioning of ecosystems. This question naturally leads to understanding how human impacts alter biological structure and so also how impacts may potentially alter the stability and functioning of whole ecosystems. This latter aspect of human impacts brings has our empirically motivated interests in developing practical biomonitoring techniques that span the ecological hierarchy. Our work is theoretical, empirical and experimental, and most often in aquatic ecosystems like streams, lakes and coastal oceans. We are highly collaborative and have worked globally on different ecosystems.Learn More