University of Calgary

Ed McCauley

  • Professor
  • Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Currently Teaching

Not currently teaching any courses.

Research Interests

Natural populations display an extraordinary range of dynamics in complex ecological communities and ecosystems.  Understanding the mechanisms giving rise to these dynamics and how they change as we modify environments, or as we move from one environment to another are challenging problems.  Since ecological systems contain many non-linear interactions and feedback mechanisms, there are three key questions that we must answer concerning the dynamics of biological populations: 1) what are the sources of instability causing the propensity to fluctuate? 2) what are the mechanisms arresting the growth of these fluctuations over time or space? and 3) what are the implications of these fluctuations for the dynamics of other species in the community?  My long-term research objectives are (1) to discover the answers to these three important questions using aquatic plant-herbivore systems as exemplars, and (2) to develop conceptual approaches that we can use to evaluate general mechanisms governing dynamics in non-linear, complex ecological systems.

I am also interested in how theory from population ecology can be used in environmental science. We use these ideas to solve applied problems related to population dynamics, resource-consumer interactions, and dynamics of biological communities in a variety of aquatic systems ranging from lakes and reservoirs to streams and rivers.  Through the use of structured population models and individual-based models, we’ve been examining how energy allocation, allometry, movement patterns, and spatial interactions affect dynamics of predator-prey systems.  These models enable us to examine how biological systems respond to climate change or changes in major environmental variables, such as temperature or nutrient enrichment.


2007 - Tier1 Canada Research Chair, University of Calgary (renewed)
2007 - Discover Accelerator Award, NSERC
2008 - Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada
2008 - Award of Excellence for Service, Faculty of Science
2005 - Award of Excellence for Research, Faculty of Science
2000 - Award of Excellence for Teaching, Faculty of Science

Selected Publications

  • Google Scholar Link
  • Cressler, C., W.A. Nelson, T. Day and E.McCauley. 2014. Disentangling the interaction among host resources, the immune system, and pathogens. Ecology Letters 17 :284–293.
  • Stevenson LM, Dickson J, Klanjscek T, Keller A, Nisbet, R. and E. McCauley. 2013. Environmental feedbacks and engineered nanoparticles: Mitigation of silver nanoparticle toxicity to Chlamydomonas reinhardtii by algal-produced organic compounds. PLos ONE 8(9): e74456. Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0074456
  • Casas, J. and  E. McCauley. 2012. Daily foraging cycles create overlapping time-scales in functional responses. Oikos 121: 1966–1976
  • Lutscher, F. and E. McCauley. 2012. A probabilistic framework for nutrient uptake length. Theoretical Ecology. 6: 71-86.
  • Ananthasubramaniam, B., R. M. Nisbet, W. A. Nelson, E. McCauley, and W.S.C. Gurney. 2011. Stochastic growth reduces population fluctuations in Daphnia-algal systems. Ecology 92: 362-372.
  • Börger, L., J. Matthiopoulos, R. Holdo, J. M. Morales, I. Couzin, and E. McCauley. 2011. Migration quantified: Constructing models and linking them with data. Chapter 11 in 'Animal Migration', edited by John Fryxell, E.J. Milner-Gulland, and Tony Sinclair. Oxford University Press.
  • Nisbet, R.M., E. McCauley, and L.R. Johnson. 2010. Dynamic Energy Budget theory and ecology: lessons from Daphnia. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 365: 3541-3562.
  • Fox, J. W., W. A. Nelson, and E. McCauley. 2010. Coexistence mechanisms and the paradox of the plankton: quantifying selection from noisy data. Ecology 91(6): 1774-1786.
  • Flanagan, K.M. and E. McCauley. 2010. Experimental warming increases CO2 saturation in a shallow prairie pond. Aquatic Ecology 44: 749-759.
  •  Watson, S.B. and E. McCauley. 2010. Light and bacteria: substitutable energy sources for chrysophyte blooms? Nova Hedwigia 136: 213-230.
  • Bailey, S.F. and E. McCauley. 2009. Extrinsically and intrinsically generated spatial patterns of algal abundance in an experimental stream. Ecological Complexity 6:328–336.
  • Kirkwood A.E., L.J. Jackson and E. McCauley. 2009. An analysis of the environmental threshold conditions required in the distribution and bloom development of Didymosphenia geminata. Freshwater Biology 54: 1856-1863.
  • Romanuk T.N., B.E. Beisner, A. Hayward, L.J. Jackson, J.R. Post and E. McCauley. 2009. Processes governing riverine fish species richness are scale-independent. Community Ecology 10: 17-24.
  • McCauley, E., W. Nelson, and R. Nisbet. 2008. Small-amplitude cycles emerge from stage-structured interactions in Daphnia- algal systems. Nature 455: 1240-1243.


  • Anderson K.E., R.M. Nisbet, and E. McCauley. 2008. Transient responses to spatial perturbations in advective systems. Bulletin of Mathematical Biology


  • Simpson, K., E. McCauley and W. Nelson. 2008. Spatial heterogeneity and rates of spread in experimental streams. Oikos 117:  1491-1499.


  • Flanagan, K. and E. McCauley. 2008. Warming and depth interact to affect carbon dioxide concentration in aquatic mesocosms. Freshwater Biology 53: 669–680.
  • Sterner, R.W., Andersen, T., Elser, J.J., 3, Hessen, D.O., Hood, J., McCauley, E. & J. Urabe. 2008. Scale-dependent carbon:nitrogen:phosphorus seston stoichiometry in marine and freshwaters.Limnology and Oceanography 53:1169-1180.
  • Benoy, G., K. Cash, L. Levesque, E. McCauley and F. Wrona. 2008. Antecedent snow conditions affect water levels and plant biomass of a fen in the southern boreal forest: Results from an experiment using mesocosms. Environmental Reviews 15:175-189.
  • Benoy, G., K. Cash, E. McCauley and F. Wrona. 2007. Carbon dynamics in lakes of the boreal forest under a changing climate. Environmental Reviews 15: 175-189.
  • Schatz, G. and E. McCauley.  2007.  Foraging behaviour by Daphnia in stoichiometric gradients of food quality Oecologia 153: 1021-1030.
  • Kirkwood, A.E., T. Shea, L.J. Jackson, and E. McCauley. 2007. Didymosphenia geminata in two Alberta headwater rivers: an emerging invasive species that challenges conventional views on algal bloom development. with contrasting flow regimes. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 64: 1703-1709. 
  • Nisbet, R.M., K.E. Anderson, E. McCauley and M.A. Lewis.  2007.  Responses of equilibrium states to environmental heterogeneity in advective systems.  Mathematical Biosciences and Engineering 4: 1-13.
  • Nelson, W.A., E. McCauley, R.M. Nisbet.  2007.  Stage-structured cycles generate strong fitness-equalizing mechanisms. Evolutionary Ecology 21: 499-515
  • Lutscher, F., E. McCauley and M. A. Lewis.  2007.  Spatial patterns and coexistence mechanisms in rivers. Theoretical Population Biology 71: 267-277
  • Flanagan, K., E. McCauley and F.J. Wrona.  2006.  Freshwater foodwebs control carbon dioxide flux through sedimentation.  Global Change Biology 12: 644-651.
  • Lutscher, F., M.A. Lewis and E. McCauley.  2006.  Effects of heterogeneity on spread and persistence in rivers.  Bulletin of Mathematical Biology 68: 2129-2160.
  • Anderson, K.E., A.J. Paul, E. McCauley, L.J. Jackson, J.R. Post and R.M. Nisbet.  2006.  Ecological dynamics and the management of instream flow needs in rivers and streams.  Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 4: 309-318.
  • Romanuk, T.N., L.J. Jackson, J.R. Post, E. McCauley and N.D. Martinez.  2005.  The structure of food webs along river networks. Ecography 29(1): 3-10.
  • Watson, S. and E. McCauley.  2005.  Ammonia and nitrate: growth or inhibition? Large and small scale patterns in Chrysophytes and the potential role of inorganic nitrogen.  Nova Hedwigia Beiheft 128: 231-247. 
  • Kendall, B., S.P. Ellner, E. McCauley, S.N. Wood, C. Briggs and W. W. Murdoch. 2005. Population Cycles in the Pine Looper Moth (Bupalus piniarius): Dynamical Tests of Mechanistic Hypotheses. Ecological Monographs 75(2): 259-276.
  • Nelson, W.A., E. McCauley and F.J. Wrona. 2005. Stage-Structured cycles promote genetic diversity in a Daphnia-algal predator-prey system. Nature 433: 413-417.
  • Nisbet, R.M., E. McCauley, W.S.C. Gurney, W.W. Murdoch, and S.N. Wood. 2004. Formulating and testing a partially specified Dynamic Energy Budget Model. Ecology 85(11): 3132-3139.
  • Nelson, W.A., E. McCauley, and J. Wimbert. 2004. Capturing dynamics with the correct rates: Inverse problems using semi-parametric approaches. Ecology (Concepts Section) 85: 889-903.
  • Lampert, W., E. McCauley, and B. Manly. 2003. Trade-offs on the vertical distribution of zooplankton: ideal free distribution with cost. Proceedings of the Royal Society (London) 270: 765-773.
  • Turchin, P., S.N. Wood, S.P. Ellner, B.E. Kendall, W.W. Murdoch, A. Fisschlin, J. Casas, E. McCauley, and C.J. Briggs. 2003. Dynamical effects of plant quality and parasitism on population cycles of Larch Budmoth. Ecology 84: 1207-1214.
  • A. de Roos, L. Persson, and E. McCauley. 2003. The influence of size-dependent life-history traits on the structure and dynamics of populations and communities. Ecology Letters 6: 473-497
  • Flanagan, K., E. McCauley, T. Prowse, and F. Wrona 2003. Climate Change: The potential for latitudinal effects on algal biomass in aquatic systems. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 60: 635-639.
  • Murdoch, W.W., B. Kendall, R. Nibset, C. Briggs, E. McCauley and R. Bolser. 2002. Single-species models for many species food webs. Nature 417: 541-543.
  • Turchin, P, C.J. Briggs, S.P. Ellner, A. Fischlin, B. Kendall, E. McCauley, W.W. Murdoch, and S.N. Wood. 2002. Population cycles of the larch budmoth in Switzerland. Pp. 130-141 in A.A. Berryman, ed. Population Cycles: the Case for Trophic Interactions (Oxford University Press, New York).
  • Watson, S.B., T. Satchwill, E. Dixon and E. McCauley. 2001. Under-ice blooms and source-water odour in a nutrient-poor reservoir: biological, ecological and applied perspectives. Freshwater Biology 46: 1-15.
  • Satchwill, T., Watson, S. Dixon, J and McCauley, E. 2001. Identification and treatment of off-flavours in drinking water. Proceedings of the Canadian Waterworks Association 9th National Conference on Drinking Water pgs. 224-241.
  • LaMontagne, J.M. and E. McCauley.  2001.  Maternal effects in Daphnia:  What mothers are telling their children and do they listen? Ecology Letters 4:  64-71.
  • Ellner, S.P., E. McCauley, B.E. Kendall, S.N. Wood,  C.J. Briggs, A. Janssen, M. Sabelis, P.Turchin, R.M. Nisbet, and  W.W. Murdoch,.  2001.  Habitat structure and population persistence in an experimental community.   Nature 412: 538-543.
  • Nelson, W.A. , E. McCauley,  and F. J. Wrona.  2001.  Multiple dynamics in a single predator-prey system:  effects of food quality.  Proceedings of the Royal Society (London) Series B 268: 1223-1230.
  • Wrona, F.J., J. Carey, B. Brownlee, and E. McCauley.  2001.  Contaminant sources, distribution, and fate in the Athabasca, Peace, and Slave River Basins.  Journal of Aquatic Ecosystem Stress and Recovery 8: 39-51.
  • Watson, S. B., T. Satchwill and E. McCauley. 2001. Drinking water taste and odour: a chrysophyte perspective. Nova Hedwigia (in press).
  • Watson, S.B.,  T. Satchwill, E. Dixon and E. McCauley. 2001.  Under-ice blooms and source-water odour in a nutrient-poor reservoir: biological, ecological and applied perspectives. Freshwater Biology  (in press).
  • Downing, J.A., S. Watson, and E. McCauley.  2001.  Predicting cyanobacteria dominance in lakes. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (in press).
  • Muller, E., R. Nisbet, S. Kooijman,  J. Elser, and  E. McCauley.  2001.  Stoichiometric food quality and herbivore dynamics.  Ecology Letters (in press).
  • Boersma, M., C.  Schöps, and E. McCauley.  2001.  Nutritional quality of seston for the freshwater herbivore Daphnia galeata x hyalina:  biochemical versus mineral limitation.  Oecologia (in press).
  • McCauley, E., B. Kendall, A. Janssen, W. Murdoch, P. Hosseini, C. Briggs, S. Ellner, R. Nisbet, P. Turchin, and S. Wood.  2000.  Inferring colonization processes from population dynamics in spatially-structured predator-prey systems.  Ecology 81: 3350-3361.
  • Elser, J., Fagan, W., Denno, R, Dobberfuhl, D., Huberty, A., Interlandi, S., Kilham, S., E. McCauley, K. Schulz, & E. Siemann.  2000. Convergent N:P stoichiometry in freshwater and terrestrial food webs.  Nature 408:  578-580.
  • McCauley, E., R. M.Nisbet, W.W. Murdoch, A.M. de Roos, and W.S.C. Gurney.  1999. Large amplitude cycles of Daphnia and its algal prey in enriched environments.  Nature 402:  653-656.
  • Kendall, B.E., C.J. Briggs, S.P. Ellner, E. McCauley, W.W. Murdoch, R.M. Nisbet, P. Turchin, and S. Wood.  1999.  Why do populations cycle?  A synthesis of statistical and mechanistic modelling approaches.  Ecology (Concepts Section) 80: 1789-1805.
  • Benoit, H., E. McCauley, and J. Post.  1998.  Testing the demographic consequences of cannibalism in Tribolium.  Ecology 79:  1339-1356.
  • Murdoch, W.W., R.M. Nisbet, E. McCauley, A.M. de Roos, and W.S.C. Gurney. 1998. Plankton abundance and dynamics across nutrient levels: tests of hypotheses.  Ecology 79: 1339-1356.
  • de Roos, A., E. McCauley, and W. Wilson.  1998.  Pattern formation and the spatial scale of interaction between predators and their prey.  Theoretical Population Biology 53: 108-130.
  • Noonburg, E., R. Nisbet, E. McCauley, W.S.C. Gurney, W.W. Murdoch, and A.M de Roos.  1998.  Experimental testing of dynamic energy budget models.  Functional Ecology 12: 211-222.
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