MK Lab (ecology and evolutionary biology)

University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario
What the facility does

Research on population dynamics.

Areas of expertise

A solid understanding of the ecology and evolution of population fluctuations is fundamental to many issues of sustainability, including human and wildlife health, food security, and resource management. We conduct analyses on the population ecology of commercially and socially important marine fish species, such as Pacific salmon and herring, to better understand their basic biology as well as sustainable harvests. We also conduct analyses of marine mammals, such as killer whales and sea lions, to better understand threats to these endangered species and to help inform their conservation management. Although infectious diseases may appear very different in fish or whales, the fundamental concepts of population ecology also applies to the emergence, persistence, and spread of infectious diseases. We analyze the dynamics of environmentally transmitted diseases to better understand the population health implications, particularly in relation to climate change, as well as transmission between domesticated and wild fish populations, such as salmon. Our analytical approaches involve a combination of mathematical modeling, statistical analysis of long-term datasets, laboratory experiments to test and refine models, and marine biology fieldwork to contribute to long-term datasets on juvenile salmon ecology and epidemiology.

Research services

We conduct mathematical and statistical analysis of population dynamics, including time series analysis of fisheries and disease datasets. We also conduct marine biology fieldwork in the northern Vancouver Island area to generate data on disease transmission between wild and farmed salmon.

Sectors of application
  • Agriculture, animal science and food
  • Fisheries and aquaculture
  • Ocean industries



Fisheries Research Vessels (2)

Two boats:

(1) a 39’ former commercial fishing boat (troller) refitted to support multi-day expeditions for marine biology and fisheries research in coastal BC;

(2) an 18’ workboat for conducting day trips to collect fisheries and oceanography samples. Associated equipment includes a pickup truck, fishing nets, sampling equipment, and safety equipment.

Laboratory Microcosms

Benchware to conduct experimental epidemiology and population dynamics using Daphnia (host) and microsporidians (parasites) including a large assemblage of glassware and aquaria, dissecting and phase-contrast microscopes, and an automated plankton counter.

Multi-processor computer

To support parallel computing for fitting and analyzing models.

Experimental Stream System

A system of 6-8 experimental streams to be set up at Koffler Scientific Reserve for experimental studies of freshwater fish and stream communities.


  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • BC Salmon Farmers Association
  • Hakai Institute and Tula Foundation
  • Salmon Coast Field Station Society



Charting a healthy future for fish farms.

Sea-lice outbreak may be worsened by management delays: Study.

Since I was a child, I’ve wanted to save the world.

Sea lice infestation could kill up to ‘millions’ of wild salmon.

Why farmed salmon is becoming a viable alternative to wild-caught.

Scientists are divided over threat to pacific northwest salmon.

Treating farmed salmon for sea lice prevents transfer to wild fish.

Sea lice strategy could help save salmon.

Sea lice killing 'large numbers' of salmon.

Can salmon farming be sustainable? Maybe, if you head inland.