Cooke Lab

Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Laboratory

Our lab maintains broad interests in all aspects of aquatic ecology, conservation biology, physiological ecology, animal behaviour and environmental science. Our research efforts primarily focus on freshwater and marine fish.
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Specific interests include
  1. Determining the energetic, fitness, and potential evolutionary consequences of a variety of natural (e.g., winter, reproduction) and anthropogenic (e.g., angling, environmental pollution) stressors.

  2. Understanding the diversity of energetic, physiological, and behavioural responses of fish to stress at the individual, population, and species level.

We then apply the fundamental knowledge derived from these basic research activities to aid in the conservation and management of aquatic resources. Of late, we have been involved with defining the new discipline of “conservation physiology” – a field dedicated to understanding the mechanisms underlying conservation problems. Because our work is heavily based in the field, we rely on technologies including underwater videography and telemetry to monitor free-swimming fish in the wild.

Our research activities...
...focus on three specific study systems that enable us to test hypotheses associated with our research programme and to address applied issues in fish ecology. Our work is currently focused on temperate centrarchid fishes (the sunfish) in Midwestern North America, the Pacific salmonids of British Columbia, and flats and mangrove communities of the Caribbean. Although these systems are all rather disparate in geography, there are common problems and challenges experienced by fish in these very different environments. Specific research projects currently underway include assessment of the compatibility of catch-and-release angling with marine protected areas, evaluation of the physiological correlates of reproduction and fitness in centrarchids and salmonids, and understanding the factors influencing the spatial ecology and demography of fish.
Our activities and ongoing research are led by Dr. Steven Cooke. Currently, our team consists of 37 members:
Steven J. Cooke

Professor Cooke

1 Lab Manager/Biologist

7 Post Doctoral Researchers

19 Graduate Students

And 9 Undergraduate Research Students

The Cooke Lab has particular expertise in the use of electronic tags to study fish in the wild.
The Cooke Lab studies the migration biology of a wide range of marine and freshwater fish with a particular emphasis on understanding the factors that influence migration success.
Our fundamental research program is focused on understanding the ecology of stress in wild fish.
With support from NSERC our team is studying the spatial ecology of fish in Toronto Harbour to evaluate habitat restoration success.

The Latest from the Lab

  • Recent Publications