Queen's University

Dr. Shelley Arnott

Professor, Department of Biology
Twitter profile for Dr. Shelley Arnott


I am a Professor of Biology at Queen's University, specializing in Aquatic Ecology. I teach field courses, seminars, and ecology classes to help students understand the implications of human activities and environmental change on freshwater ecosystems.  Human activities change landscapes and the organisms that live there.  We investigate how aquatic communities respond and adapt to regional disturbance, including invasive species, calcium decline, and climate change, using a combination of field surveys, experiments, and lab studies. 


Most Recent Project

Dispersal strength influences zooplankton co-occurrence patterns in experimental mesocosms

Negative co-occurrence patterns areEcology Journal Cover intriguing because they may reflect the outcome of interspecific interactions and therefore signal how competition shapes communities. However, other factors also contribute to these patterns. For example, theoretical studies as well as two survey-based studies have all suggested that dispersal may also impact these patterns. While natural communities commonly have nonrandom patterns of negative co-occurrence, understanding how different processes drive these patterns requires further research. We tested the influence of dispersal on co-occurrence patterns using a zooplankton mesocosm experiment with four different dispersal treatments varying in the number of dispersers delivered into mesocosms on regular intervals. Our dispersal treatments were intended to adjust the relative importance of dispersal and competition experienced within mesocosms (i.e., high dispersal results in a relatively low influence of competition on species composition and vice versa)

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Other Projects

  • Timing is everything: priority effects alter community invasibility after disturbance
    Theory suggests that communities should be more open to the establishment Ecology and Evolution Journalof regional species following disturbance because disturbance may make more resources available to dispersers. However, after an initial period of high invasibility, growth of the resident community may lead to the monopolization of local resources and decreased probability of successful colonist establishment. During press disturbances (i.e., directional environmental change), it remains unclear what effect regional dispersal will have on local community structure if the establishment of later arriving species is affected by early arriving species (i.e., if priority effects are important). To determine the relationship between time-since-disturbance and invasibility, we conducted a fully factorial field mesocosm experiment that exposed tundra zooplankton communities to two emerging stressors–nutrient and salt addition, and manipulated the arrival timing of regional dispersers.
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