Current Research Areas

The highest densities of lakes on Earth are in north temperate ecosystems, where chloride runoff from road deicers can salinize freshwaters and threaten lake water quality and the many ecosystem services lakes provide.

In 2017, I published a study of chloride trends in North America that drew a lot of media and scientific attention to widespread long-term increases in chloride concentrations in lakes. This study laid the groundwork for further quantitative studies of salinization at the regional to continental scale, and understanding the role of climate, land-use, and human decision making on these processes. My niche is spatial and temporal modeling of chloride trends and trajectories. This includes research at the continental scale and site-specific models.

Select Publications:
Dugan et al. (2017) PNAS
Dugan et al. (2017) Nature: Scientific Data
Dugan et al. (2017) Limnology and Oceanography Letters
Shannon et al. (2020) Journal of Urban Ecology
Dugan et al. (2020) Environmental Science & Technology
Dugan and Rock (2021) Limnology and Oceanography Letters
Ladwig et al. (2021) Limnology and Oceanography Letters
Dugan et al. (2021) Limnology and Oceanography Letters
Dugan and Arnott (2022) Wires Water
Rock and Dugan (2023) Limnology and Oceanography

Understanding energy, water, solute, and material flux through lakes and reservoirs underpins our knowledge of the roles lakes play in their catchments, how lakes process and respond to external drivers, and the threats to lake ecosystem services imposed by human activities.

An emerging paradigm in domain science is the use of machine learning to accelerate scientific discovery from observational data. Historically, modeling in limnology has mainly used statistical models, numerical simulations, and more complex process models. Over the last few years, I have been part of an interdisciplinary team working in the realm of knowledge guided machine learning (KGML). The KGML ethos is that the most powerful explanatory models will combine the strengths of machine learning with accumulated scientific knowledge.

Select Publications:
Snortheim et al (2016) Ecological Modelling
Moore et al (2021) Environmental Modelling & Software
Ladwig et al. (2021) Limnology and Oceanography Letters
Ladwig et al. (2021) Hydrology and Earth System Sciences
Ladwig et al. (2022) Limnology and Oceanography

How do lakes function across large geographic areas?

Linking local ecosystem processes to global changes involves scaling up. Moving from site-specific studies that provide an invaluable means to understand process, to large-scale analyses across a gradient of sites at the continental or global scale is essential to forming a generalizable understanding of both ecosystem processes and the interactions between natural systems and humans.

Select Publications:
Read et al (2017) Water Resources Research
Mantzouki et al (2018) Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Topp et al (2021) Water Resources Research

My research background is in polar limnology, and has included research both in the Canadian Arctic and Antarctica. As of 2023, I am a co-PI on the McMurdo Dry Valleys Long-term Ecological Research project. My interests lie in understanding climate and hydrological drivers on lake ecosystem processes.

Select Publications:
Dugan et al (2015) Geophysical Research Letters
Mikucki et al (2015) Nature Communications
Myers et al (2021) Cryosphere
Dugan et al (2022) Cryosphere

Expanding our knowledge of winter limnology is critical for managing lakes and reservoirs in a future with shorter winters and less lake ice. In temperate latitudes, limnologists have largely ignored winter as a season that impacts ecological processes, and it is unclear what ramifications the loss of lake ice will have on lake ecosystems.

Select Publications:
Yang et al (2020) Geophysical Research Letters
Dugan et al (2021) JGR Biogeosciences
Feiner et al (2022) CJFAS
Socha et al (2023) Limnology and Oceanography