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David G. Delaney
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David G. Delaney
PhD Candidate
Supervisor: Brian Leung
Contact Information:
Department of Biology
McGill University
1205 Docteur Penfield
Montreal, Quebec H3A 1B1
Lab at McGill: 514-398-1833

Office/Home: (617) -770-0483
Cell.: (514) 585-8801
DGDelaney {at} gmail {dot} com

Research Overview:
My research is multidisciplinary but mainly falls into the fields of marine ecology, invasion biology, oceanography, community ecology, evolutionary biology, and limnology. Research questions of interest are both applied and theoretical. I have conducted research in Canada, U.S., and the Galapagos. I conduct laboratory and manipulative field experiments complimented with broad-scale surveys to test theory and better understand drivers of large-scale patterns in nature. I endeavour to identify important biotic and abiotic factors controlling the diversity of an ecosystem in order to better inform managers and policy-makers.

<<< Download my CV

| Study organisms | Publications & Awards | Media Coverage | Invasive Tracers Website | Dr. Brian Leung's website

Current Research:

My current research is monitoring, managing and modelling the spread of invasive species. Invasive species are a global, daunting problem causes over $120 billion dollars of damage, each year, in the US alone. They are one of the leading causes for biodiversity loss and the number of invaders exponentially increases each year. I focus on marine invasive species, as marine invasion biology lags behind its counterparts in terrestrial and aquatic systems. I use the Asian shore crab (Hemigrapsus sanguineus) and European green crab (Carcinus maenas) as model organisms. My research has mainly been conducted from New Jersey to Maine, USA. More recently, I expanded my research to tunicates by studying the invasion of the vase tunicate (Ciona intestinalis), which threatens the multimillion dollar mussel industry of Prince Edward Island Canada.

Photo credit: Linda Hurt

Photo credit: Linda Hurt

Photo credit: Michael Becker

Photo credit: Michael Becker

Study organisms:

As widely distributed organisms, Carcinus maenas and Hemigrapsus sanguineus were logical choices for this new type of study and validation towards yielding the data needed for the progress of marine invasion ecology. Carcinus maenas has invaded the coasts of North America, South Africa, Australia, South America and other places outside of its native range of the Atlantic coast of Europe and possibly northwest Africa. Carcinus maenas was presumably brought to the Atlantic coast of North America, in 1817, with solid ballast. By 1989, it started colonizing the Pacific coast of North America starting in San Francisco Bay. It was transported accidentally from the east coast by activities associated with the live food and bait trade. Establishment and persistence in these various environments is likely facilitated by its omnivorous feeding strategy and its ability to tolerate a wide range of temperatures and salinities. A single brood of C. maenas can contain 185,000 - 250,000 eggs. High fecundity and the characteristics of a generalist allow C. maenas to inhabit a diverse range of marine ecosystems and therefore, reduce beta-diversity.

Carcinus maenas
European Green Crab
Carcinus maenas
5 teethed green crab
Hemigrapsus sanguineus
Asian Shore Crab
Hemigrapsus sanguineus
Photo credit: Flickr
Dr. Jennifer Forman Orth

Similarly, H. sanguineus is a generalist, an omnivore, and a highly invasive brachyuran crab. Hemigrapsus sanguineus is native to the western Pacific but has colonized multiple locations in Europe and during 1988 it was first detected on the eastern coast of North America, in New Jersey. Traffic of foreign cargo vessels was presumably the vector that brought the Asian shore crab to North America. In its native range, H. sanguineus inhabits waters that range from above 30 to below 5oC. With a high fecundity in the form of multiple broods of up to 60,000 eggs each breeding season, H. sanguineus has expanded its invasive range along the eastern coast of the United States, and has colonized from Oregon Inlet, North Carolina to Schoodic Peninsula, Maine.


Delaney, D.G., Sperling, C.D., Adams, C. and Leung, B. 2008. Marine invasive species: validation of citizen science and implications for national monitoring networks. Biological Invasions 10:117-128.

Delaney, D.G. 2008. Verifying the validity of volunteer monitoring to increase its utility: An academic perspective. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's The Volunteer Monitor Newsletter 19:1.

Griffen, B.D. and Delaney, D.G. 2007. Species invasion shifts the importance of predator dependence. Ecology 88:3012-3021

Delaney, D. G. 2007. In the Spotlight: The Marine Invasive Species Monitoring Organization. The National Institute of Invasive Species Science Citizen Science Newsletter 1:2.

Leung, B.
and Delaney, D.G. 2006. Managing sparse data in biological invasions: a simulation study. Ecological modeling 198:229-239.

Delaney, D.G. and Solecki, A. 2005. Citizen science as a solution to invasive species. Gulf Stream Newsletter: A publication of the Gulf of Maine Marine Educators' Association 3:4.


  • 2009 Alma Mater Student Travel Grant Award ($750)
  • 2009 Graduate Training Committee Travel Award ($250)
  • 2008 Gulf of Maine Visionary Award for innovating thinking and commitment to protecting the Gulf of Maine environment and surrounding waters
  • 2007 University of Maine's Addison E. Verrill Award for Marine Biology ($2,000)
  • 2006 McGill Graduate Studies Fellowship Award ($5,000)
  • 2006 NSF Honorable Mention Graduate Fellowship Award
  • 2005 Co-PI on a grant from NOAA's National Sea Grant ($134,473)
  • 2005 E.C. Pielou Award for best oral presentation on statistics by a graduate student at the 90th Ecological Society of America's annual meeting ($200)
  • 2005 McGill Graduate Studies Fellowship Award ($5,000)
  • 2003 New England Aquarium's Award for Excellence and Leadership
  • 2002 New England Aquarium's Rookie of the Year Achievement Award
  • 1998 Award for Distinction from Boston University Academy for obtaining a GPA greater than 3.5 in Boston University classes while I was still in high school
  • Community Service Award of 1996, 1997, and 1998 from Boston University Academy

Media coverage

BioScience. 2008
Citizen science: Can volunteers do real research? by Jeffrey P. Cohn

McGill University. 2008.
A student essay on the 2008 Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Research Symposium by Sarah Overington

Boston Globe. 2006
Drift cards to track tidal flow by Carolyn Johnson

Boston Globe. 2006.
Marine water invaders on most wanted list by Beth Daley

Shore Line Times. 2006.
Crab cove: Kids search for invasive crabs by Jim Murtagh

South Coast Today. 2006.
Highlighting volunteer monitoring network by Brian Fraga

Fishermen's Voice. 2005.
Asian Crab Threatens Acadia Region. Highlighting the finding of volunteer network that Asian Shore Crab has extended its range northward by Steve Cartwright

Patriot Ledger. 2005.
David Delaney is the pied piper of science by Amy MacKinnon

Last update: Feb. 18, 2009














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