About Rooney Lab

Researcher standing in a wetland

Our focus

The work in our lab centres around aquatic ecology, restoration ecology, and landscape ecology.  We look at the relationships between plants, invertebrates, and birds with their abiotic environment; both in terms of ecosystem properties and processes.  In particular, we focus on the response of these biotic communities and their environmental correlates to human disturbance. We also explore how those predictive relationships can be harnessed to inform environmental monitoring and assessment. 

Our commitment 

We are committed to applied, policy-relevant research that informs industry regulation, compliance or effects monitoring, and natural resource management.  We are therefore also committed to transparency and accessibility, and thus strive to make our scientific publications available through open-access publishing and to follow up on research with adequate technology transfer and the communication of our results to government, non-governmental organization (NGO), and industry end users.  

Students in our lab are taught practical field skills, advanced statistical methods, and ecological principles.  However, they are also given extensive instruction on scientific communication.  We focus not only on communicating results with fellow academics, but on conducting policy responsive, applied research and communicating those findings with government, NGO, industry, and public stakeholders.  Too often scientific findings languish on dusty shelves. 

Our goal is to inform policy and practice with scientific evidence and we invest substantively in its achievement.

For example, the video below, narrated by Dr. Rooney, depicts the implementation of various field-assessment tools for wetlands constructed as part of oil sands mine reclamation. The handbook is here.

These tools have been recommended to the Government of Alberta as potential criteria for the certification of reclaimed wetlands in the oil sands surface mineable area.  In response, we created this video and an accompanying written handbook to help professional biologists and consultants use the tools.