Biotic modulation hypothesis

Can we predict the effect of cross-ecosystem subsidy on the recipient ecosystem? It is common knowledge that adding a ton of nutrient to a lake will lead to eutrophication. That eutrophication process, however, is generally mediated by the aquatic food web processing and moving those nutrients across trophic levels. Cross-ecosystem subsidy are often more complex than just ‘a ton a nutrient’. In natural setting they vary greatly in quantity and quality following seasonal cycles (leaf falling) or perturbation dynamics (fire). Playing with those concepts we explore how varying the community structure in the recipient ecosystem might constraints the capacity of the recipient ecosystem to respond to ‘subsidy’ addition.

Spatial cascade

A spatial cascade is defined as a change in the structure of one ecosystem at one location that will influence the structure of an ecosystem at another location. It’s like quantum coupling, except that it’s not and has nothing to do with it! The spatial cascade is one of the core concepts from the meta-ecosystem theory, but it is yet untested (but see this and that paper from the lab). Understanding and documenting spatial cascade could help to understand how local perturbations can sometime spread to an entire landscape.

Natural variations in cross-ecosystem subsidy

Some ecosystems are quite dependant on cross-ecosystem subsidy to support their functioning. But how resilient are those recipient ecosystems to changes in subsidy? Can we measure some sort of natural baseline variance in cross-ecosystem subsidy beyond which instability is observed? how does the quantity and quality of cross-ecosystem subsidy vary within a single lake versus across multiple lakes? Those are the kind of questions we seek to address by collecting data directly in the field at our super nice research station.

Spatial feedbacks between ecosystems

Spatial flows between ecosystems are often assumed to be unidirectional. For instance, we often study terrestrial subsidy in aquatic ecosystems without considering that subsidy are actually flowing both ways and that dynamical feedbacks might occur. That field of research is almost entirely theoretical but can potentially have very real and important consequences in natural systems. If ecosystems are coupled by dynamical feedbacks it means that their functioning and stability cannot be studied independently of one another. We are trying to use lab experiments and long term datasets to identify signals from those spatial feedbacks and explore their consequences.

Stoichiometry and meta-ecosystems

Our intuition generally tells us that lakes receive a lot more subsidy from terrestrial systems than terrestrial systems from lakes. It’s true, but is quantity all that matters? In fact, evidence shows that lake receives a lot more subsidy but of lower quality (leaves), while flows from lakes to terretrial systems are of much higher quality (emerging insects). This has implications that are yet not very clear for the inter-dependance between coupled ecosystems.


Current lab members


Eric Harvey

Lab PI

Featured publications

see all publications

Proceedings of the Royal Society B., 2018

Nature Communications, 2018

Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 2017

Ecology and Evolution, 2017

Journal of Applied Ecology, 2017

Join us

Prospective students

Please read the points below carefully. If you are still interested you can send a letter of intent and resume to

  • If you are interested in joining the lab, I would recommend that you first take a look at the research and publication sections. Publications with a “* Top pick!” tag are most representative of the work that we do in the lab. That being said, I am always happy to explore new directions of inquiry!

  • Graduate studies are truly challenging. This does not mean that it cannot be fun or enjoyable, but rather that to succeed it requires first and foremost a strong interest in what you are doing. For that reason, it is important for me to take the time to discuss with you about your interests and whether my lab can offer what you are looking for. No diploma is worth being miserable for several years!

  • Curiosity, for me, is more important than grades. Thus, if you are truly interested do not hesitate to contact me.

  • I will help you to develop your scientific skills as best I can. I do not know everything though (that is why we do research!); the exchange of knowledge is bi-directional here, and often you will need to dig to find the answers you are looking for. My duty is to provide you with the tools and opportunities for you to succeed. My goal is that at the end of your project you are better than me on your thesis subject.

  • I value a good work-life balance. I also value personal as much as professional developement. Graduate studies are a lot more than just a job or something leading to a job. The goal here is not to reach the finish line but more to discover yourself, your own interests and how you want to contribute to a better society along the way.

Current opportunities


We currently have funded opportunities! More details will come in the next months, but please contact me if you are interested.


If you have your own funding, or are interested in applying for external funding, please get in touch!

The main source of external fundings in Quebec are: