backResearcher Profile

John Roff

Job Title: Professor/Editor Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Employer: University of Guelph
Place of Birth: Ilford, Essex, England
High School attended: Southend-on-Sea High School
Further Education: Cambridge, England (B.A., M.A.), Newcastle, England (Ph.D.).
Geographic focus of research: Maritimes, Jamaica

Brief synopsis of current research:
The long-term objective of my research is to understand the processes that control energy and carbon flow in marine pelagic (water column) communities and linkages to bottom communities. Carbon fixed by plant plankton within the pelagic realm is processed in three ways: it may: (i) be passed to higher "trophic levels" of the "classical food web", i.e. plant plankton>copepods (small crustacea)>fish (ii) sink and join the sediments. I am attempting to unravel these inter-dependencies and model these relationships from low to high rates of aquatic production. Because methods to measure growth in animal plankton are deficient, I am developing novel techniques based on the biochemistry of chitin, the major component of skeletons of all crustaceans. After cellulose (found in plant cell walls), chitin is the second most abundant biopolymer in the world.


Recent Publications:

Roff, J.C., Turner, J.T., Webber, M.K. and Hopcroft, R.R. 1995. Bacterivory by tropical copepod nauplii: prevalence and possible significance. Aquatic Microbial Ecology 9: 165-175.

Currie, W.J.S., Claereboudt, M.R. and Roff, J.C. 1998. Gaps and patches in the ocean: a one-dimension analysis of plankton distributions. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 171:15-21.

Roff, J.C., Kroetsch, J.T., and Clarke, A.J. 1994. A radiochemical method for secondary production in planktonic crustacea based on rate of chitin synthesis. Journal of Plankton Research 16:961-976.

Roff, J.C. and Day, D. 1999. Planning for Representative Marine Protected Areas: a Framework for Canada's Oceans and the Great Lakes. World Wildlife Fund Canada. Release date: Nov. 1999.

Runge, J.A. and Roff, J.C. 1999. The measurement of growth and reproductive rates. Chapter 9. Pages:401-451. ICES Zooplankton Methodology Manual. Methods in Zooplankton Research, International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, Copenhagen.

Although we call our planet "Earth", this is in fact a poor name for it. 71% of its surface is covered with water - we should call it planet "Ocean". The oceans are the major feature of our planet. Without them the homeostatic mechanisms of our world could not function and life would not be possible.

Canada has the longest coastline of any country in the world and is blessed with abundant natural aquatic resources. Over the last century Canada has developed a community of aquatic researchers which is second to none in the world. Despite this, in recent decades we have seen a series of problems develop: over-fishing, habitat degradation, invasions by exotic species, pollution, etc. The next generation of Canadian aquatic scientists will inherit a rich historical legacy of research experience, but one that has not yet been effectively translated into effective policy and stewardship.

The responsibility of Marine Conservation is only now becoming appreciated, but will soon I believe become of dominant global importance. Marine conservation requires a highly inter-disciplinary approach, combining knowledge of the aquatic sciences and socio-economic skills. How to reconcile: incomplete knowledge of the aquatic environment with pressures for expliotation of its resources will continue to be the most pressing challenge for the next generation of aquatic scientists. ]