Western University GeographyWestern Social Science

Adam Yates

Assistant Professor


Contact Information

Office: Room 2403, SSC
Tel: 519 661-2111, 85008
Fax: 519 661-1233
E-mail: adam.yates@uwo.ca

Research Areas

Aquatic Ecosystems in Populated Landscapes; Development and Application of Ecological Assessment Methods for Aquatic Ecosystems; Watershed Description and Analysis

Graduate Opportunities

PhD - Assessment of Temporal and Spatial Variability in Ecosystem Function of Small Streams

MSc - Stream ecosystem response to cumulative land use effects

Research Interests

Human modification of the landscape is a global threat to the physical, chemical and ecological integrity of aquatic ecosystems. Our ability to protect these important ecosystems through policy is hindered by a limited understanding of the effects of human activities on aquatic ecosystem condition. My research programme addresses this problem by generating critical scientific knowledge with regards to relationships between human activities and ecological condition of aquatic ecosystems with the purpose of developing knowledge and decision support tools that can be used to inform environmental planning, protection and restoration policies and practices. I meet this overarching goal through three complementary and interactive avenues of research grounded within the field of water science:

  1. Description of natural and anthropogenic characteristics of aquatic landscapes;
  2. Development of techniques for assessment of aquatic ecosystems;
  3. Assessment of the effects of human modification of the environment on aquatic ecosystems.

1. Description of natural and anthropogenic characteristics of aquatic landscapes
Driven by interest in understanding how and why human activities vary across landscapes my lab uses GIS as well as spatial and quantitative analyses to develop techniques for describing variation in landscape structure. These data provide the basis for generating and testing hypotheses regarding the development of assessment techniques and the effects of human activities on the condition of aquatic ecosystems

2. Development of techniques for environmental assessment of aquatic ecosystems
My lab is interested in developing indicators and assessment systems that can be used to generate accurate and informed reports on the condition of aquatic ecosystems exposed to human activities. Interests include testing measures of ecosystem structure (e.g., aquatic invertebrate and fish assemblages) and ecosystem function (e.g., ecosystem metabolism) through extensive field research studies. In addition to indicator development my lab has a strong research interest in the reference condition approach and its development as a technique for biological assessments including how to define reference condition, especially in populated environments, and exploring natural variability in reference conditions.

3. Effects of human modification of the environment on aquatic ecosystems
My lab’s research programme generates critical understanding of the effects of human modification and management of landscapes on aquatic ecosystems using the assessment techniques my lab develops. In particular, my lab is interested in the effects of agriculture and agricultural management practices on aquatic ecosystems with the goal of drawing correlative and mechanistic linkages between human activities and ecosystem condition that can be used to generate models for improved environmental management.

Graduate students in my lab can expect to have an interdisciplinary experience grounded in physical geography, biology and geographic information sciences with opportunities to incorporate social science components. During the course of their program students in my lab will develop and strengthen a wide variety of highly transferrable skills in aquatic systems field research, GIS and statistical analysis.

Publications & Supervised Graduate Students and Theses Titles

Refereed Journals

Holmes R, Armanini DG, Yates AG. 2016 Best management practice location improves water quality but not ecological condition in southern Ontario streams. Environmental Management, 57:1062-1076.

Pearce NJT, Yates AG. 2015 Agricultural best management practice abundance and location does not influence stream ecosystem function or water quality in the summer season. Water, 7:6861-6876.

Bailey RC, Linke S, Yates AG. 2014 Bioassessment of freshwater ecosystems using the reference condition approach: comparing established and new methods with common data sets. Freshwater Science, 33:1204-1211.

Yates AG, Brua RB, Culp JM, Chambers PA, Wassenaar LI 2014 Sensitivity of structural and functional indicators depends on type and resolution of anthropogenic activities. Ecological Indicators, 45:274-284.

Yates, A.G., Brua, R.B., Corriveau, J., Culp, J.M. and Chambers, P.A. 2014 'Seasonally Driven Variation in Spatial Relationships Between Agricultural Land Use and In-stream Nutrient Concentrations' River Research and Applications, 30:476-493.

Stammler KL, Yates AG, Bailey RC. 2013 Stream burial: Exposing a potential threat to aquatic ecosystems. Urban and Landscape Planning, 114:37-41.

Yates, A.G., Brua, R.B., Culp, J.M. and Chambers, P.A. 2012 ‘Multi-scaled drivers of stream metabolism along human activity gradients in rural prairie streams’ Freshwater Biology 58: 675-689

Yates, A.G., Culp, J.M. and Chambers, P.A. 2012 ‘Estimating nutrient production from human activities in subcatchments of the Red River, Manitoba’ Journal of Great Lakes Research 38: 106-114 doi:10.1016/j.jglr.2011.04.009

Yates, A.G. and Bailey, R.C. 2011 'Effects of taxonomic group, spatial scale and descriptor on the relationship between human activity and stream biota' Ecological Indicators 11(3): 759-771

Corriveau, J., Chambers, P.A., Yates, A.G. and Culp, J.M. 2011 'Snowmelt and its role in the hydrologic and nutrient budgets of prairie streams' Water Science and Technology 64(8): 1590–1596 doi:10.2166/wst.2011.676

Yates, A.G. and Bailey, R.C. 2010 'Selecting objectively defined reference sites for stream bioassessment programs' Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 170: 129-140

Yates, A.G. and Bailey, R.C. 2010 'Improving the description of human activities potentially affecting rural stream ecosystems' Landscape Ecology 25: 371-373

Yates, A.G. and Bailey, R.C. 2010 'Covarying patterns of macroinvertebrate and fish assemblages along natural and human activity gradients: implications for bioassessment' Hydrobiologia 254: 147–155

Culp, J.M., Armanini, D.G., Dunbar, M.J., Orlofske, J.M., Poff, L., Pollard, A.I., Yates, A.G. and Hose, G.C. 2010 'Incorporating traits in aquatic biomonitoring to enhance causal diagnosis and prediction' Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management 7: 187-197

Koscinski, D., Yates, A.G., Handford, P. and Lougheed, S.C. 2009 'Effects of landscape and history on diversification of a montane, stream-breeding amphibian' Journal of Biogeography 36(2): 255-265

Supervised Graduate Students and Theses Titles

PhD StudentsYearTitle
E. Krynak
Current Stream Ecology and Assessment
K. Painter Current Stream Ecology
N. Pearce Current Stream Ecology
MSc StudentsYearTitle
L. Briggs Current River Ecology
J. Grimstead Current Utilizing aquatic benthis macroinvertebrates to assess human impact on stream ecology
C. Irwin Current Stream Metabolism
S. McKenzie Current Stream Assessment
J. Webb Current Stream Ecology
C. Chesworth 2016 Lagoon Wastewater Effluent Impacts Stream Metabolism in Red River Tributaries
N. Izral 2016 Investigating the Suitability of the Crayfish Metabolome as an Indicator of Stream Conditions
R. Lazor 2014 Land use interactions drive Southwestern Ontario stream nutrient concentrations
R. Holmes 2014 Determining the Association between the Structure of Stream Benthic Macroinvertebrate Communities and Agricultural Best Management Practices