backResearcher Profile

Warwick F. Vincent

Job Title: Professor
Employer: Laval University
Place of Birth: Auckland, New Zealand
High School attended: Auckland Grammar School
Further Education: University of Auckland, New Zealand (B.Sc.), University of California, Davis, USA (Ph.D.).
Geographic focus of research: subarctic Québec, Nunavut, Ross Sea sector, Antarctica, Lake Biwa, Japan

Brief synopsis of current research:
The work in my laboratory is focused on how microbial life at the base of aquatic food webs responds to its physical environment such as underwater light, temperature and mixing regimes. Much of our research is conducted in the high latitude lakes and streams of subarctic Québec, high arctic Nunavut and the Ross Sea sector of Antarctica. In these habitats, the biota is subject to extreme forcing by the physical environment, and global change effects are also likely to be pronounced. Our studies encompass populations ranging from viruses to protists and microzooplankton, but we place special emphasis on cyanobacteria given their dominant role in the plankton and benthos of many high latitude waterbodies, as well as their importance in ecosystem function and water quality issues at lower latitudes. Our research projects are conducted at three different organisational scales: ecosystem-level with emphasis on bio-optical approaches towards measuring land-water coupling and energy exchange; community-level with emphasis on perturbation responses (e.g., to rising temperature and incident UV-B); and population-level, with emphasis on the ecophysiology of mat-forming and picoplanktonic cyanobacteria.


Recent Publications:

Vincent, W.F., J.A.E. Gibson, R. Pieniitz, V. Villeneuve, P.A. Broady, P.B. Hamilton & C. Howard-Williams (2000) Ice shelf microbial ecosystems in the high Arctic and implications for life on Snowball Earth. Naturwissenschaften (in press).

Vincent, W.F. & J.J. Dodson. 1999. The need for an ecosystem-level understanding of large rivers: the Saint Lawrence River, Canada-USA. Japanese Journal of Limnology 60: 29-50.

Markager, S., Vincent, W.F. & E.P.Y. Tang. 1999. Carbon fixation in high Arctic lakes: Implications of low temperature for photosynthesis. Limnol. Oceanogr. 44: 597-607.

Vincent, W.F., Pienitz, R. & Laurion., I. 1998. Arctic and Antarctic lakes as optical indicators of global change. In: Budd, W.F. (ed) Antarctica and Global Change. Annals of Glaciology 27: 691-696.

Rae, R. & W.F. Vincent 1998. Effects of temperature and UV radiation on microbial food web structure: potential responses to global change. Freshwat. Biol. 40: 1-12.

The Canadian North is distinguished by a richness of aquatic ecosystems that includes some of the world's most fascinating environments for an ecologist: networks of tundra ponds (see the figure), impact crater lakes, freshwater seal habitats, solar-heated waters capped by thick ice, permanently stratified (density-layered) lakes and fiords, glacier and ice-shelf ecosystems that resemble icy habitats on early Earth (and perhaps elsewhere?), organic-rich rivers flowing to the sea, and vast lakes and wetlands such as the Nettilling Lake complex on Baffin Island. Despite the extraordinary diversity and importance of these resources, we understand very little about how they function as ecosystems, or even about the range of plants, animals and microbes that live within them. Yet this information is vitally important given that the polar regions are likely to be among the most strongly impacted by global climate change and other perturbations in the immediate future. Technologies are developing rapidly that are stimulating novel ways of looking at aquatic ecosystems- for example, new environmental satellites such as Envisat for remote sensing, techniques in molecular ecology to measure biodiversity and evolutionary relationships, and digital image analysis combined with fluorescence for better understanding microbial communities. There are now increasing opportunities for exchange of ideas, expertise and personnel between research teams working in the Arctic and Antarctica. Examining life at its limits in the polar regions is also helping us understand how aquatic ecosystems function (or malfunction) at lower latitudes. This a very exciting time to be involved in Canadian Northern research!