Photo of Dr David Montagnes

Dr David Montagnes BSc, MSc, PhD, FLS

Reader Evolution, Ecology & Behaviour


Personal Statement

Here is a brief biographical sketch, indicating my research interests and their development over the last 25 years, from field work, to laboratory studies, and with a growing interest in ecological models.

In the mid 80s, through field work off the coast of Maine (USA), I began by assessing the biomass and abundance of planktonic ciliates, using a quantitative method (QPS) that I developed to simultaneously assess the biodiversity and abundance of planktonic protozoa. My main aim at that time was to assess the role of ciliates in the marine plankton. However, working with Denis Lynn at the University of Guelph, we also described a number of species, allowing us to assess pelagic ecosystem biodiversity and function. Although taxonomy has now taken a back seat, I continue to describe species, and have adopted an interdisciplinary approach, combining live, molecular, and behavioural observations.

In the late 80s I moved to the University of British Columbia and shifted towards laboratory studies on planktonic cilates, to provide rate measurements (e.g. growth and grazing) that could then, with our field data, be incorporated into ecosystem models. At the same time, I began to examine phytoplankton, both as food for ciliates and as primary producers in the ecosystem models.

In the mid 90s, beginning at the University of Washington and then at the University of Liverpool, I made substantial inroads into examining the ecology of protists, especially their response to temperature; this included changes in composition, changes in rates, interactive effects of temperature and food, and the impact on food webs. This work on temperature continues to be a focus of my research on how protists function in ecosystems.

By the turn of the century I had started to combine my taxonomic and ecological expertise with laboratory studies to explore how protists behave in relation to a range of issues, including temperature shifts caused by global climate change. This, again, was done by incorporating them into food web models.

Most recently, following my combined interest in protists and models, I have recognised a very different, but equally important role of protists; they are ideal model organisms, for examining fundamental ecological principles such as metapopulation dynamics. This is the present focus of my research.

Prizes or Honours

  • Vice President of the International Society of Protistologists (Soc. Protistologists, 2009)