Rebecca Rooney carries out research in wetland ecology and is a world expert on biomonitoring and wetland assessment.
Rebecca Rooney examines how human-caused and natural ecological disturbances influence wetland communities, including birds, invertebrates and plants. She tackles fundamental questions around how communities assemble and what defines them, including the relative importance of biological interactions, environmental conditions, and landscape factors. She is keenly interested in the role of rare species and novelty in ecological processes.
Her research supports the implementation of wetland policy, invasive species management, and the protection of species at risk. Her results improve the design of restored and reclaimed wetlands, provide tools for evaluating their integrity, and identifies the most successful techniques for invasive species control.
- Wetland ecology
- Aquatic plants
- Biomonitoring and ecosystem assessment
- Community Ecology
- Restoration Ecology
- Landscape Ecology
Research in the Rooney lab seeks answers to questions like:
- Wetland ecology and limnology – what ecosystem functions do wetlands and lakes serve and how are they measured? what makes a wetland or lake healthy? How are stresses propagated through these systems? What influences processes like competition, dispersal, or the movement/storage of nutrients within aquatic ecosystems?
- Wetland communities– how do communities respond to stress and disturbance? How do they assemble and change in response to a changing environment? What can the composition of a community tell us about the quality of environmental variables, including surrounding land uses?
- Restoration ecology – how can constructed or novel ecosystems better resemble natural ones? What design principles can be incorporated? How is naturalness measured? How do you maximize desirable ecosystem services and what trade-offs does this practice create?
- Landscape ecology – how does the spatial arrangement or pattern of habitat types within a landscape influence ecosystem processes? What is the role of scale? What does a healthy or undisturbed landscape look like? Can you evaluate the condition of whole landscapes to achieve certain management goals, like maximizing the diversity of wetland types?
Dr. Rooney is a new professor at the University of Waterloo and is actively seeking grad students. If you share her research interests, please get in touch.
Professor Rooney is interested primarily in wetlands and lakes. Her work is usually policy-relevant and applied, for example Professor Rooney developed wetland assessment tools for marshes in Grassland, Parkland and Boreal ecozones. She is presently working on invasive wetland plants, evaluating the success of different restoration practices and monitoring for “off-target” effects in sensitive coastal marsh habitats. Fully 75% of plant species at risk are considered threatened by invasive species. Professor Rooney is therefore also exploring the interactions between invasive species and species at risk, especially Phragmites australis, which is considered one of the greatest dangers to coastal marshes. Professor Rooney also looks at disturbed wetlands in urban and industrial areas and how those habitats and their surrounding landscapes could be restored or reclaimed. For example, she wrote several papers on wetland reclamation on Alberta’s oil sands mine leases.
Assessment methods for oil sands reclamation marshes
This video shows Dr. Rooney and her team carrying out wetland sampling methods related to reclamation monitoring in the Alberta oil sands. The video was created to help consultants and industry implement wetland assessment tools she helped develop and demonstrates her commitment to applied research and knowledge mobilization. If you are interested in her research, it is a great illustration of what to expect during field work.
Professor Rooney teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses. Course offerings have included
- BIOL 150 Organismal and evolutionary ecology
- BIOL 485 Conservation Biology
- BIOL 499 Senior Honours Project
- BIOL 631 Statistical Methods in Ecology
- BIOL 680 Specialized studies of selected research procedures
Awards and Distinctions
- University of Waterloo Outstanding Performance Award (2015)
- Honorary Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarship (2009-2011)
- Alberta Ingenuity Graduate Scholarship (2009-2011)
- First Place Student Presentation, Society of Wetland Scientists (2010)
- Lakshmi Memorial Teaching Award, University of Alberta (2010)
- Departmental Teaching Commendation, University of Alberta (2010)
- Bill Samuel Service Award, University of Alberta (2009)
- Postgraduate Scholarship- Doctoral, NSERC (2007-2009)
- Ph.D. Scholarship, University of Alberta (2007-2009)
- Graduate Scholarship, University of Alberta (2007)
- Graduate Scholarship- CGSM, NSERC (2003-2005)
- Senate Medal for Outstanding Performance, Carleton University (2003)
University of Waterloo Affiliations
- President’s Sustainability Advisory Committee, Academics Working Group
- Waterloo institute memberships: Water Institute
- Department of Biology Curriculum Committee
Professional Associations and Service
- International Association for Great Lakes Research, Board Member
- Society of Wetland Scientists, Canadian Chapter Treasurer
- Society for Ecological Restoration
- Ecological Society of America
- IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management
- Ontario Phragmites Working Group
- Great Lakes Phragmites Collaborative, Phragmites Adaptive Management Framework Technical Team
2011 PhD Ecology, University of Alberta
2006 MSc Entomology, University of Manitoba
2003 BSc Environmental Science, Carleton University