The Clark Lab has general interests in aquatic animal eco-physiology and environmental change. We also have a strong interest in research integrity and helping to improve the 'reproducibility crisis' that plagues many scientific disciplines.
Resilience to environmental change
Environmental change is one of the most pervasive threats to aquatic organisms. We use physiological and behavioural measurements to understand how aquatic animals (mainly fishes) respond to present-day and forecasted environmental challenges. Environmental factors of particular interest are temperature (e.g., climate warming), carbon dioxide (e.g., ocean acidification), oxygen (e.g., aquatic hypoxia) and salinity (e.g., freshwater runoff). Our research helps to provide the knowledge that is necessary to make informed management decisions, with an ultimate goal to ensure the sustainability of aquatic animal populations in the face of unprecedented change.
Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture
Fisheries and aquaculture provide vital nutrition for much of the world's human population, yet these activities must be managed responsibly to maximise efficiency and minimise impact. Research in the Clark Lab explores how fishes respond to fisheries capture stress, with a goal to improve the physiological and behavioural recovery of fish if they are returned to the water (e.g., in catch-and-release recreational fishing, or when released as by-catch in a commercial fishery). Similar approaches are used to understand and subsequently minimimse the negative impacts of husbandry practices in aquaculture (e.g., grading, disease treatment). Additionally, we have a keen interest in determining the physiological and behavioural traits that underlie superior performance of particular individuals/pedigrees in aquaculture.
Electronic tagging technologies
We live in an exciting era of technology development, which provides the opportunity to revolutionise our understanding of how animals interact with their environment. The Clark Lab uses a range of electronic tagging technologies to understand the physiological and behavioural responses of aquatic animals to environmental and anthropogenic perturbations. We have been involved in the development of a novel, multi-sensor tagging technology that measures the heart rate, 3D acceleration, temperature and pressure of free-roaming animals as they interact with their natural environment. This technology also paves the way for a "smart farming" revolution, whereby animals in aquaculture can provide real-time feedback to farm managers about their welfare and performance.
Research integrity and transparency
Many scientific disciplines are suffering a 'reproducibility crisis', whereby a large number of high-profile publications cannot be replicated by independent labs. Reasons for this crisis range from legitimate analytical mistakes to outright data fabrication. The Clark Lab is passionate about using robust and transparent approaches to conduct their research, and they are part of a growing initiative to discourage 'questionable research practices' and blow the whistle on scientific misconduct.