Aquatic Ecology Lab

The Ohio State University Aquatic Ecology Laboratory (AEL) is home to faculty and student researchers whose fieldwork takes place on Lake Erie and in rivers, streams, hatchery ponds and large reservoirs around Ohio. In their Kinnear Road facility, extensive resources support the analysis of their field research.

AEL projects balance basic and applied research to understand community structure and dynamics in aquatic systems, concentrating on fishes. The program revolves around basic ecology: optimal foraging, resource partitioning, bioenergetics modeling. The goal is better understanding of how aquatic populations and communities operate to develop solid principles on which to base fisheries and conservation science.

The AEL became an official entity in 1991, with the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology as its administrative home. It occupies both indoor and outdoor space on the grounds of the research center and contains virtually every necessity for leading-edge research in aquatic ecology, including a computer lab, library/map room, wet and dry labs, outdoor pools and a fleet of boats for field work. The AEL has a long-term partnership with Ohio Division of Wildlife; the two frequently work in tandem to pursue experimentally oriented research to solve fish management and research problems.

The AEL is a community of students, faculty and staff, committed to educational opportunities for its members and to promoting community involvement in aquatic ecology. The AEL has education outreach programs that host school groups from first through 12th grade. Tours and hands-on demonstrations of equipment, aquatic organisms, and laboratory procedures of aquatic sampling introduce young people to aquatic research. Periodically, the AEL hosts students from Columbus area high schools, who visit the lab weekly to conduct experiments and gain experience in aquatic field work.

The AEL also hosts seminars and workshops for the university community and personnel from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Division of Wildlife.