Dept of Earth & Environmental Sciences
Centre for Environmental and Information Technology (EIT)
200 University Ave. W
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1
Phone: (519) 888-4567
William Taylor's research interests cross over several areas of aquatic ecology, including nutrient cycles, the fate of aquatic bacteria, the ecology of protozoa, and human effects on water quality. His most recent research concerns the freshwater phosphorus cycle.
He was best known for his work on the "nearshore phosphorus shunt hypothesis" which explained how zebra mussels are re-engineering the Great Lakes' aquatic ecosystem.
Professor Taylor retired from academia and as Department Chair in September 2016.
- Limnology, including aquatic food webs and nutrient cycles
- Eutrophication and other human effects on water quality
- Phosphorus and the freshwater phosphorus cycle
Investigating the fresh water phosphorus cycle and the role and fate of bacteria in freshwater environments improves our understanding of eutrophication and of pathogens found in surface waters used for drinking.
Eutrophication, the pollution of surface waters by excess nutrients, is a pervasive threat to freshwater and coastal ecosystems worldwide. In Canada, eutrophication negatively affects the environment, human health, and the economy.
Phosphorus is the nutrient primarily responsible for eutrophication, and it also has several properties that make it a useful currency for studying the structure and dynamics of freshwater ecosystems and the impact of other environmental stresses.
Professor Taylor's research has aspired to address important gaps in our knowledge of the freshwater phosphorus cycle, including the nature and dynamics of dissolved organic phosphorus compounds, and factors affecting the total phosphorus concentration in lakes. His lab has examined the fate of phosphorus and bacteria added to rivers from sources such as agriculture, the processes that are responsible for the their removal, and how these processes influence water quality in rivers.
More recently, he has focused on the human impact on lakes and rivers through changes in freshwater nutrient cycles and in the fate of bacteria, including pathogens.
Professor Taylos has conducted research in the Laurentian Great Lakes, with Ontario Ministry of the Environment; small lakes of the Canadian Shield through OMOE's Dorset Environmental Science Centre; the Grand River, including partnership with the Grand River Conservation Authority; and East African Lakes, with collaborators in several countries.
Highly cited publications over Professor Taylor's career include:
RE Hecky, REH Smith, DR Barton, SJ Guildford, WD Taylor, MN Charlton, T Howell. The nearshore phosphorus shunt: a consequence of ecosystem engineering by dreissenids in the Laurentian Great Lakes. 2004. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 61(7): 1285-1293, DOI: 10.1139/f04-065.
DR Barton, WD Taylor, and R M Biette. Dimensions of riparian buffer strips required to maintain trout habitat in southern Ontario streams. 1985. North American Journal of Fisheries Management, 5(3A):364-378, DOI: 10.1577/1548-8659(1985)5<364:DORBSR>2.0.CO;2.
JJ Hudson, WD Taylor, DW Schindler.Phosphate concentrations in lakes. 2000. Nature 406: 54-56. DOI:10.1038/35017531.
A Mazumder, WD Taylor, DJ McQueen, DRS Lean. Effects of fish and plankton on lake temperature and mixing depth. 1990. Science, 247: 312-315.
GM Carr, HC Duthie, WD Taylor. Models of aquatic plant productivity: a review of the factors that influence growth. 1997. Aquatic Botany, 59(3-4): 195–215. doi:10.1016/S0304-3770(97)00071-5.
Awards and Distinctions
2016 Frank Rigler Award, Society of Canadian Limnologists
2015 Distinguished Professor Emeritus
2013, Career Achievement Award, Canadian Council of University Biology Chairs
2003-2010 Canada Research Chair
1993 Chandler-Misener Award, with D.R.S. Lean and A. Mazumder, International Association for Great Lakes Research.
University of Waterloo Affiliations
Member, The Water Institute
Past administrative roles
2013 Professor Emeritus and Adjunct Professor of Biology
2008 Interim Chair, Department of Biology
2005- 2008 Associate Dean of Science for Research
2002 - 2004 Associate Dean of Science for Graduate Studies
1996 - 2001 Chair, Department of Biology
Professional Associations and Service
Editorial Boards: African Journal of Aquatic Science (until 2013), Journal of Great Lakes Research
Chaired contributed paper sessions for Canadian Society of Limnologists, Winnipeg, 2010 and International Association for Great Lakes Research, 2014
International Joint Commission, Science Advisory Board (2007 to 2013, including Canadian Co-Chair), including working groups on eutrophication, invasive species, beach closings, and indicators of ecosystem health.
Technical Advisor to US EPA Science Advisor Board concerning Lake Erie Phosphorus Objectives Review, 2014.
The following news stories have featured Professor Taylor's research:
November 12, 2013 Biology professor honoured for career achievements
1973 BSc University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
1978 PhD University of Toronto, Toronto, ON