Research in our lab combines experimentation, field data, modeling, and theory to examine how temperature, habitat, life history, and human disturbance (e.g., climate change, invasive species, exploitation) shape the population dynamics of fishes that are of commercial, recreational, or conservation value. Much of our work involves inland fisheries, which are a global priority because they are an important source of food that is poorly understood and increasingly threatened.

Our research program is diverse (e.g., Honsey et al. 2018, Abbey et al. 2021, Biernbaum et al. 2021), but tends to center on four, integrated themes:

1) Degree-days: The degree-day is an index of thermal energy that is underutilized in aquatic ecology. Degree-days permeate much of our work because they allow us to account for temperature effects and scale life history traits across broad spatial scales (e.g., Venturelli et al. 2010). We are developing best practices (ChezikEtal2014a,b; Honsey et al. 2019), and gaining insight into life history variation (Venturelli et al. 2010) that helps to shed light on sustainable harvest (Lester et al. 2014), thermal adaptation, and climate change.

2) Biphasic growth: Biphasic theory describes fish growth in a way that reveals life history traits and constraints. We have used biphasic theory to predict sustainable harvest (Lester et al. 2014), estimate maturity (Chavarie et al. 2015, Honsey et al. 2017), assess fisheries-induced evolution (Uusi- Heikkilä et al. 2015), and estimate shark and sea turtle mortality (Moe 2015, Schroeder 2017). A future grant will use methods that we developed (Honsey et al. 2017, Wilson et al. 2018) to glean historical data from historical data.

3) Angler-generated data in the digital age: My lab published the first analysis of data from an angler smartphone application (app; Papenfuss et al. 2015). Digital media are an opportunity to efficiently collect conventional and novel data about the resource and its users, and to engage anglers through citizen science (Venturelli et al. 2017, Skov et al. 2021). Current research focuses on comparisons to conventional data (e.g., Gundelund et al. 2021), and laying the groundwork for a diversity of novel applications.

4) Population modeling: Population models are an efficient way to explore and evaluate alternative scenarios, and predict outcomes at large scales. We use age- or stage-structured and individual-based population models to address a range of questions, often at the request of collaborators. For example, we have assessed two endangered species (Venturelli et al. 2010b,c), shed light on the ecology of invasive common carp (Bajer et al. 2015), evaluated methods for controlling invasive smallmouth bass (Loppnow and Venturelli 2014), and developed strategies for mitigating the impacts of chemical pollutants on walleye (Vaugeois et al. 2021). Our modeling projects tend to be interdisciplinary; we have worked with, civil engineers and economists to model the effects of wastewater estrogens on various fishes (Rearick et al. 2018); and disease specialists to estimate the impact of an invasive disease (Tomamichel et al. 2018).


Current funded projects

CLIMATEFISH: Effects of CLIMATE Change on the Early Life Stages of FISH Species: An Intercontinental Comparison
Funder: Thomas Jefferson Fund
Lead: Paul Venturelli
Collaborator(s): Fabrice Telechea, Stéphane Teletchea

Empowering Invasive Species Management with Big Data
Funder: U.S. Geological Survey
Lead: Jit Weir
Collaborator(s): Wes Daniel

Enhancing Rockfish Recovery through Citizen Science, Outreach, and Field Experimentation
Funder: British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund via the University of Victoria
Lead: Zack McDonald
Collaborator(s): Natalie Ban, Dana Haggarty, Francis Juanes, Chessi Miltner, Sean Simmons

Evaluating Fishbrain data as a spatial surrogate for recreational lake use and connectivity across Great Lakes states
Funder: U.S. Geological Survey via The Nature Conservancy
Lead: Zack McDonald
Collaborator(s): Amy Kinsley, Nick Phelps

Improving Fisheries Management with Digital Data Sources
Funder: USFWS-WSFR Sport Fish Restoration Program via the Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Lead: TBD
Collaborator(s): Sandy Clark-Kolaks, Drew Holloway