Adam Yates

Associate Professor


Contact Information

Office: Room 2403, SSC
Tel: 519 661-2111, 85008
Fax: 519 661-1233

Research Areas

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

Graduate Opportunities

PhD Position: Assessment of potential and realized benefits of agricultural best management practices

PhD Position: Assessment of nutrient loading from groundwater on algal communities in small, agricultural streams

MSc Positions: Stream ecosystem function response to municipal wastewater effluent

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 transferable skills in aquatic systems field research, GIS and statistical analysis.

Publications & Supervised Graduate Students and Theses Titles

Refereed Journals

Thomas KE, Lazor R, Chambers PA, Yates AG. (2018). Land-use practices influence nutrient concentrations in southwestern Ontario streams. Canadian Water Resources Journal, 43:2-17.

Yates AG, Brua RB, Culp JM, Young RG, Chambers PA. (2018) Variation in stream metabolism and benthic invertebrate composition along longitudinal profiles of two contrasting river systems. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 75:549-559.

Pearce NJT, Yates AG. (2017) Inter-annual variation of the association between agricultural best management practices and stream nutrient concentrations. Science of the Total Environment, 586:1124-1134.

Rattan KJ, Corriveau JC, Brua RB, Culp JM, Yates AG, Chambers PA. (2017) Quantifying seasonal variation in total phosphorus and nitrogen from prairie streams in the Red River Basin, Manitoba, Canada. Science of the Total Environment, 575:649-659.

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 Students Year Title
L. Banks Current Assessing nutrient loading from groundwater on algal communities in agricultural streams
K. Painter Current Quantifying nutrient mitigation potential of prairie streams in the Lake Winnipeg Basin
N. Pearce Current Ecological effects of nutrient pulses in Great Lakes Tributaries
E. Krynak
2018 Patterns and Drivers of Stream Benthic Macroinvertebrate Community Taxonomy and Function in Agroecosystems
MSc Students Year Title
C. Billhorn Current Amount and sources of population variability in the metabolome of the northern crayfish, Faxomius virilis: application for biomonitoring
R. Poisson Current The effects of human activities and landscapte alternation on aquatic ecosystems
C. Lucas 2019 Integrated Catchments Management: Ecology, Biogeochemistry, Geomorphology and Hydrology
S. McKenzie 2018 Metabolomics for Biomonitoring: Evaluation, Recommendation, and Test of Efficacy
J. Webb 2018 Hierarchical Variation in Cellulose Decomposition Across Southern Ontario Reference Streams
J. Grimstead 2017 Utilizing aquatic benthis macroinvertebrates to assess human impact on stream ecology
C. Irwin 2017 Stream Metabolism
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. Holmes 2014 Determining the Association between the Structure of Stream Benthic Macroinvertebrate Communities and Agricultural Best Management Practices 
R. Lazor 2014 Land use interactions drive Southwestern Ontario stream nutrient concentrations