You are now in the main content area

Welcome to the Spatial Ecology Lab, led by Dr. Stephanie Melles. We specialize in geo-spatial methods at the land-water Interface. Our lab is distinguished by two key features:

First, we explore ecology not just on land or in water, but in both. Using this two-lens approach, we can better understand interrelated issues and impacts of stressors in (urban) land-water ecosystems.

Secondly, we also use the tools of data science to research ecology. With spatial and geo-computational tools, we search for patterns across multiple scales — from aquatic mesocosms to watershed macrocosms.

Urban Ecology

One of our lab’s growing areas of research is urban ecology. We live in an era of cities. In Canada alone, 72%* of the population live in urban areas. Amid the backdrop of concrete and metal, it’s easy to view cities as devoid of biodiversity, with little need for conservation efforts. In fact, the opposite is true!

Cities are often built within areas where biodiversity is at its highest — with fertile land and abundant water. We work with the university’s Urban Water Research Centre and we have access to experimental laboratory space at the Centre for Urban Innovation. Our cities are not inhospitable deserts. They’re structurally and compositionally complex — with the potential to be manicured by humans and shared with the animal and plant life around us.

*based on data from Statistics Canada (external link) 

Our Research Interests

We explore pressing, complex questions, such as:

  • What drives urban biodiversity?
  • Why are some locations more resilient?
  • How do species respond to climate change, urbanization, pollution, and more?
  • How can we enhance biodiversity and ecosystem functions?
  • How to translate research into meaningful environmental stewardship?

Our Partners

New Earth Solutions
City of Toronto
Government of Ontario
Toronto Region Conservation Authority
Government of Canada
Ontario Centre for Innovation
and others...

Join Us

If you’re interested in being trained in ecological research, find out about our team and how to join us.