Aquatic ecologist, Fisheries scientist, Ichthyologist, Field biologist, Teacher, Scuba diver, Photographer, Dog-trainer, Trivia master/host, Award-winning homebrewer, BJCP Beer judge.

IMG_0952aHi! My name is Jonathan Freedman.  I am a fisheries and aquatic ecologist living in Gainesville, Florida.  My primary research interests are in aquatic ecology at the population, community, and ecosystem levels. I am interested in conservation of native species, and the effects of anthropogenic disturbances and invasive species on aquatic ecosystems. As a research tool, I use stable isotope techniques to answer ecological questions.

From Hogtown to Hogtown to Hogtown

Originally from Toronto, Canada (nickname: Hogtown), I have a long-standing passion for nature, and interest understanding our role in the ecosystem.  In 1996 I left Toronto to attend the University of Guelph, where I earned my B.Sc. in Zoology in 2001.  It was at Guelph where I became interested in fish and aquatic ecology.  During Ichthyology I asked my professor, Dr. David Noakes, why the largest cartilaginous fishes were so much larger than the largest bony fishes. Expecting to be told the answer, or at least pointed in the right direction, he instead said that he did not know and encouraged me to investigate it for my senior research project, which I have since published as “Why are there no really big bony fishes?

martes1Upon graduation I worked for about two years as a wildlife and fisheries technician on a variety of projects.  My first job was working on American Marten population ecology, first in Algonquin Provincial Park, and then in Ear Falls in northwestern Ontario.  My responsibilities included live-trapping, radio-collaring, and tracking martens, as well as habitat and prey assessments.  I then worked on Muskrat ecology in Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky, where I live-trapped and tracked muskrats on the Green River.  Finally, I worked on Atlantic Salmon restoration in Lake Ontario, by looking at bioenergetics of Atlantic Salmon with introduced Chinook Salmon in Bronte Creek, Ontario. In between these field-based jobs I worked as a lab technician at the University of Guelph.

In 2003 I returned to school to begin an M.Sc. in Biology at the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, where I worked with Drs. Allen Curry and Kelly Munkittrick of the Canadian Rivers Institute. Under an NSERC Industrial Post-graduate Scholarship I used stable isotope analysis to investigate the effects of pulp mill and sewage effluents on fish communities in Mactaquac Lake, Saint John River.  I also worked with the St. Anne-Nackawic Pulp Mill to perform the fish survey for their Environmental Effects Monitoring report.  I also assisted with other projects including Brook Trout spawning, population ecology on Lake Utopia Dwarf Rainbow Smelt, and Atlantic Salmon ecology.

After completing my M.Sc., I moved to the Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Penn State University to begin my Ph.D. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science.  For my dissertation I worked with Drs. Bob Carline and Jay Stauffer, and my research focused on the effects of gravel dredging and navigation dams on fish communities in the Allegheny and Ohio rivers.  Working with Tim Stecko of the Stauffer lab, I developed a novel gear (electrified benthic trawl, aka PSU Trawl) for sampling riverine fish communities.  At Penn State I became an AAUS Science Diver where, with Dr. Tim White, I had the opportunity to travel to Florida where I conducted research on the fish community of Little Salt Spring, a noted archaeological site.  I also assisted with studies including long-term trout population monitoring in Spruce Creek, establishing a fish IBI for Pennsylvania, and worked on side projects including estimating trophic relationships in the cichlid community of Lake Xiloa, Nicaragua using stable isotope analysis of museum collections, and the importance of crayfish to the diet of feral Brown Trout in Spruce Creek, PA.

In 2010, upon completion of my Ph.D., I began a post-doc in aquatic and fisheries ecology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and the Illinois Natural History Survey, Kaskaskia Biological Station in Sullivan, IL, working with Dr. Dave Wahl.  My primary responsibilities were studying ecology and management of invasive Asian Carp. This included evaluating multiple sampling gears for capturing these species, and evaluating their effects on food webs in the Illinois River.  I also worked on projects investigating fish community ecology in the Illinois River; the effects of Gizzard Shad on lake macroinvertebrate and zooplankton communities; and effects of Largemouth Bass predation on stocked Walleye fingerlings.  At this time, my fiancee and later wife Terrie was a postdoc at the University of Chicago; I therefore spent many weekends in the Windy City (also nicknamed Hogtown).

Then in 2013, like many Canadians, I migrated south where I became the Brown Scholar and Visiting Professor in Biology at Stetson University, DeLand, FL, and studied fish ecology in Florida’s springs and rivers. My particular research focus was looking at the seasonal nutrient pulses in the Blue Spring (Volusia Co.) food web.  I also taught introductory biology, and developed and taught a Fish Ecology course that included a field trip to the Florida Keys over spring break.

I am currently working as an independent environmental consultant based in Gainesville, FL, where I use my interdisciplinary expertise to provide technical reviews and analyses of large-scale projects in freshwater and marine habitats. For the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, I am currently analyzing patterns of freshwater productivity across a range of spatial scales as part of the development of the Fisheries Protection Provisions of the Fisheries Act. My other active projects include using hydrologic models to determine the risks of mine-tailings dam failure on Atlantic Salmon production, and reviewing potential effects of pipeline construction on Pacific salmonids. My recently completed projects include evaluating the ecological and hydrological effects of a proposed open-pit mine on freshwater fishes and invertebrates; assessing potential risks from off-shore oil drilling on marine and anadromous fishes and invertebrates; and establishing ecological risk criteria for integrated ocean management. In addition to technical reports I have provided plain language summaries, and have participated in public and technical meetings while representing the interests of stakeholders including First Nations’ traditional and commercial fisheries.

At the University of Florida, I hold a courtesy faculty appointment in the Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Program, School of Forest Resources and Conservation, and adjunct lecturer in the Biology Department.  I am continuing my research on Florida spring and river ecology, and collaborating with researchers from several agencies and universities to study invasive fishes and aquatic ecology.  During the Spring 2015 semester I co-instructed a combined graduate/undergraduate course in Riverine Ecology with Dr. Bill Pine. Fall 2015 I taught in the Biology Department and worked developing future courses. And Spring 2016 I am teaching an online class in Physiology and Molecular Biology of Animals. I am actively involved with the Florida Chapter, American Fisheries Society where I am on the raffle and fundraising committees as well as being the Ad Hop representative responsible for Chapter Meeting beverages.

In my spare time, I enjoy SCUBA, snorkeling, hiking, and photography.  I am an award-winning homebrewer and active member of the Hogtown Brewers homebrew club where I hold the position of Intraclub Competition Czar and am a BJCP Recognized Beer Judge.  My wife, Terrie, and I was also trivia hosts, and run a regular trivia competition at First Magnitude Brewery where we often partner with local environmental charities for fundraisers.  Since 2011 I have been happily married to Dr. Terrie Vasilopoulos, a statistician in the Anesthesiology and Orthopedics departments at UF Health (Shands).  We live in Gainesville, FL where we share our home with numerous fishes, a Box Turtle named Ruby, Newton and Leda the cats, and our Labrador Retriever puppy Calypso (Callie).

And Gainesville, Florida’s nickname?  Hogtown, of course.

Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. 
– Theodosius Dobzhansky