Welcome to the Lee-Yaw Lab at the University of Ottawa!
We strive to create a supportive, productive, and fun research environment where we can ask big questions, learn new skills, and contribute to knowledge and the protection of biodiversity.
The Lee-Yaw lab and uOttawa are located on the traditional unceded, unsurrendered territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin Nation. Much of our fieldwork takes place in areas covered by Treaty 7, on the traditional and ancestral territory of the Niitsítapi (including Kainai, Piikani, and Siksika Nations) and the Tsuut’ina Nation, and on the homelands of the Métis Nation.
We recognize these Nations as the traditional stewards of the lands on which we live and work. We make this acknowledgement in recognition of our responsibility to treat these lands and other lands we visit with respect, and to honour and respect the rights, culture, and histories of Indigenous peoples everywhere.
Learn more about Indigenous lands here and about Truth and Reconciliation in Canada here.
In this lab, we value curiosity, collaboration, collegiality, and personal growth. We are committed to an inclusive and positive lab environment--one where diversity is celebrated and the unique backgrounds and experiences of lab members are seen as opportunities to learn from one another and improve our science. You are welcome here!
We use a variety of approaches and tools to address questions at the intersection of evolutionary ecology and conservation biology, with an emphasis on understanding the past, present, and future of species' geographic distributions.
Some of the main themes we explore:
The structure and history of species' geographic distributions.
We use molecular data and phylogeographic methods to study the biogeographic history and structure of species ranges in temperate regions of North America. Of interest is the extent to which widespread species represent composites of evolutionarily distinct groups, the outcome of interactions between these groups, and the implications for conservation assessments.
Ecological and evolutionary explanations for range limits.
We are broadly interested in understanding the ecological and evolutionary drivers of species' geographic range limits. Previous work in the lab has focused on understanding the relative importance of niche constraints versus dispersal limitation in shaping species' range limits. Current work is focused on understanding the roles that genetic drift and gene flow play in adaptation at the edge of the range and how environmental context shapes the outcome of these processes.
The impact of global change on species' distributions.
Climate change is leading to major changes in species' distributions yet there is tremendous variation in the response of species to changing conditions. We are interested in understanding this variation. We are especially interested in the impacts of extreme, climate-related events on populations and range limits.
Genomic and spatial data to inform conservation translocations.
The intentional release of individuals at locations away from known threats or in extirpated parts of species' range is increasingly called for to protect species under global change. Yet, these efforts often fail. We are working with our conservation partners to explore the potential value of genomics in guiding source site selection, as well as habitat suitability models to prioritize release sites for different at-risk species in Canada.
*alphabetical by first name
Hannah Meikle (she/her)
Honours Thesis student
Evolutionary and behavioural ecology, wildlife conservation, geographic distributions, population and community interactions
Using autonomous recording units to understand the distribution of Calling populations of western toads
Hiking, biking, skiing, reading, gardening, playing music, and anything that will get me outdoors!
Lee-Yaw JA, McCune JL, Pironon S, Sheth SN. Species distribution models rarely predict the biology of real populations. (2022) Ecography, e05877.Link*runner up E4 award; most downloaded Ecography paper in 2022.
Justen H, Lee-Yaw JA, Delmore K. Reduced habitat suitability and landscape connectivity in a songbird migratory divide. (2021) Global Ecology and Biogeography, 30: 2043-2056. Link
Wang S, Ore M, Mikkelsen EK, Lee-Yaw JA, Toews DPL, Rohwer S, Irwin DE. (2021) Signatures of mitonuclear coevolution in a warbler species complex. Nature Communications, 12, 4279. Link
Bontrager M, Usui T, Lee-Yaw JA, Anstett D, Branch HA, Hargreaves AL, Muir CD, Angert AL. (2021) Adaptation across geographic ranges is consistent with strong selection in marginal climates and legacies of range expansion. Evolution, 75: 1316-1333. Link
Miller TEX, Angert AL, Brown CD, Lee-Yaw JA, Lewis M, Lutscher F, Marculis NG, Melbourne BA, Shaw AK, Szűs M, Tabares U, Weiss-Lehman C, Williams JL. (2020) Eco-evolutionary dynamics of range expansion. Ecology, doi: 10.1002/ecy.3139 Link
Roesti M, Anstett DN, Freeman B, Lee-Yaw JA, Schluter D, Chavarie L, Rolland J, Holzman R. (2020) Pelagic fish predation is stronger at temperate latitudes than at the equator. Nature Communications, doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-15335-4 Link
Lee-Yaw JA, Grassa CJ, Joly S, Andrew RL, Rieseberg LH. (2019) An evaluation of alternative explanations for widespread cytonuclear discordance in annual sunflowers (Helianthus). New Phytologist, doi:10.1111/nph.15386 Link Freeman BG, Lee-Yaw JA, Sunday J, Hargreaves AL. (2018) Expanding, shifting, and shrinking: The impact of global warming on species' elevational distributions. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 27: 1268-1276. Link
Lee-Yaw JA, Fracassetti M, Willi Y (2018) Environmental marginality and geographic range limits: a case study with Arapidopsis lyrata ssp. lyrata. Ecography, 41: 622-634. Link
Lee-Yaw JA, Kharouba HK, Bontrager M, Mahony C, Csergő AM, Noreen AME, Li Q, Schuster R, Angert AL (2016) A synthesis of transplant experiments and ecological niche models suggests that range limits are often niche limits. Ecology Letters, 19: 710-722. Link