Yvonne M. Vadeboncoeur, Ph.D.

Biological Sciences
Professor Biological Sciences
Biological Sciences Bldg 226, 3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy., Dayton, OH 45435-0001
Education History: 
  • Postdoctoral Fellow. McGill University,Quebec. 2000-2002
  • NATO/NSF Postdoctoral Fellow. National Environmental Research Inst., Denmark. 1998-1999
  • Ph.D. Aquatic Ecology. University of Notre Dame. 1998.


Research statement: 

I research the importance of energy linkages among habitats in freshwater ecosystems. I am especially interested in the function of benthic, or bottom, habitats in both lakes and streams. Ecosystems are mosaics of habitats, and plants and animals function as dynamic links between habitats, participating in and modifying patterns of energy production and transformation.  Understanding the relationships between habitat complexity, organisms, and ecosystem function is critical to conserving aquatic biodiversity, most of which is associated with benthic habitats. The shallow littoral zone at the edges of lakes is much more physically complex than the homogeneous, open water pelagic habitat. Our research examines the role of this structured edge habitat in lake carbon and nutrient dynamics, and the importance of aquatic organisms in maintaining these functions. We use a variety of approaches including broad-scale geographic surveys, laboratory experiments, field experiments, mathematical models, stoichiometric analysis and stable isotope analysis. My lab has quantified benthic algal primary productivity and its importance to food webs in lakes throughout the world. Currently, we have three research sites.  At the North Temperate Lake LTER site in northern Wisconsin, we are examining the role of benthic algae in lake food webs, and how the function of the littoral zone changes across lake-size gradients. This work is in collaboration with Jake Vander Zanden at the Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin, Madison and is funded by the National Science Foundation. In Africa, we are looking at interactions between attached algae and herbivorous fish in Lake Tanganyika. The littoral zone of Lake Tanganyika hosts a phenomenal diversity of fish and invertebrates. The benthic algae that support this diversity are incredibly productive, but the water itself is extremely nutrient poor. How can such high productivity and diversity persist in the face of apparent extreme nutrient scarcity? We are using field and lab experiments to test whether grazing fish increase nutrient turnover and nutrient retention in the littoral zone, and consequently whether fish increase the overall productivity of the littoral zone.  This work is conducted in collaboration with the Nyanza project, an international, interdisciplinary NSF REU program on east African lakes spearheaded by the University of Arizona. We also conduct research in the rivers of Ohio, which support some of the highest fish and invertebrate diversity in North America. We are examining the role of habitat complexity in determining the distribution of rare and common darters (a group of small benthic fishes) in Big Darby Creek. Overall, our research seeks to contribute to a synthetic understanding of the importance of both physical and biological complexity to ecosystem function.



Representative Publications

Vadeboncoeur, Y., G. Peterson, M.J. Vander Zanden and J. Kalff. In revision. The contribution of benthic primary production to lake ecosystems across morphometric and nutrient gradients.

Vadeboncoeur, Y., J. Kalff, K. Christoffersen, and E. Jeppesen. 2006. Substratum as a driver of variation in periphyton chlorophyll and productivity in lakes. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 25:379-392.

Vander Zanden, M. J., S. Chandra, S. Park, Y. Vadeboncoeur, and C. R. Goldman. 2006. Efficiencies of benthic and pelagic trophic pathways in a subalpine lake. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 63:2608-2620.

Vadeboncoeur, Y., K. S. McCann, M. J. Vander Zanden, and J. B. Rasmussen. 2005. Effects of multi-chain omnivory on the strength and stability of trophic control in lakes. Ecosystems 8:682-693.

Vander Zanden, M. J., T. E. Essington, and Y. Vadeboncoeur. 2005. Is pelagic top-down control in lakes augmented by benthic energy pathways? Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 50:1368-1376.

Vander Zanden, M. J., Y. Vadeboncoeur, M. W. Diebel, and E. Jeppesen. 2005. Primary consumer stable nitrogen isotones as indicators of nutrient source. Environmental Science & Technology 39:7509-7515.

Vadeboncoeur, Y., E Jeppesen, M. Jake Vander Zanden, Hans-Henrik Schierup, Kirsten Christoffersen, and D.M. Lodge. 2003. From Greenland to green lakes: Cultural eutrophication and the loss of benthic energy pathways in lakes. Limnology and Oceanography 48:1408-1418.

Vadeboncoeur, Y., M.J. Vander Zanden, and D.M. Lodge. 2002. Putting the lake back together: Reintegrating benthic pathways into lake food web models. BioScience 52: 44-54.

Vadeboncoeur, Y., and A. D. Steinman. 2002. Periphyton function in lake ecosystems. TheScientificWorldJOURNAL 2:1449-1468.
Vander Zanden, M.J. and Y. Vadeboncoeur. 2002. Fishes as integrators of benthic and pelagic food webs in lakes. Ecology. 83:2152-2161. 

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