Karling Roberts, former Ph.D. student

Previous Education:

B.Sc. Honours in Environment; Minor in Biology (McGill University)

Post-Graduating Position:

Biologist, Parks Canada (Banff).

Thesis Title:

Stable Isotope Analysis of Natural and Compensation Lake Food Web Structure in the Alberta Oil Sands

Research Description: 

I am interested in how the function and structure of fisheries and aquatic communities can be conserved in the face of increasing and interacting pressures from industrial development and land-use change. My thesis work is using stable isotope analysis to characterize the food web structure of lakes in the Alberta oil sands. Stable isotope analysis of food webs uses carbon (13C:12C) and nitrogen (15N:14N) stable isotope ratios in the tissues of organisms and known patterns of heavy isotope enrichment and depletion associated with biological processes to discern feeding interactions within a community of interest. I will use this technique to characterize the food webs of natural lakes that support fisheries with desirable characteristics such as the presence of sport fish species, high sport fish productivity, and high sport fish biomass. I will then compare these characteristics to those of compensation lakes, new lakes in the oil sands that have been constructed to offset the loss of fish habitat due to oil sands mining.