El-Sabaawi, Rana

Assistant Professor


Phone number: (721) 6445
Email: rana@uvic.ca
Department: Biology

Research description:

- Food web changes response to human activities
- Interactions between food webs and ecosystem processes

Expertise Profile
It's hard to conserve an ecosystem if we don't understand how they work, says Dr. Rana El-Sabaawi, a food web ecologist and professor in the biology department.

She is primarily interested in what aquatic animals eat, looking at how their feeding interactions impact the ecological networks in which they live, more particularly in streams and coastal regions.

Dr. El-Sabaawi also examines how human activity, such as fishing and urban development, affects aquatic food systems. In one research project, she studied the effects of removing fresh water predators on the rest of their food network.

She found that predators can affect fresh water communities by altering the behaviour and physical appearance (phenotype) of their prey.

Understanding how the animals respond to changes in their environment is crucial for their healthy functioning, she says.

In fact, Dr. El-Sabaawi's research can help find better conservation management strategies for policy-makers, not-for-profit sectors and even First Nation communities. What aquatic animals eat will have implications for human health and the economy, she adds.

Dr. El-Sabaawi and her research team are also investigating the effects of urban development on salmon streams in the Greater Victoria area, conducting field surveys and experiments to try and repopulate some of the streams.

Students in her marine biology class can go to inter-tidal areas, collect their own samples and analyze them in the lab. Dr. El-Sabaawi incorporates real-life examples of her research into her lectures, occasionally inviting graduate students to share their experiences in translating knowledge into field skills.

Related Links
Website: http://web.uvic.ca/~rana/ElSabaawiLab/Welcome_page.html

Dr. El-Sabaawi's Faces of UVic Research video:

International research:

Dr. El-Sabaawi has a research program based in Trinidad and Tobago (Caribbean) and plans to start collaborations with colleagues in Brazil and Mexico.

Countries lived or worked in:

Dr. El-Sabaawi has worked in the United States and Trinidad and Tobago. She spent her childhood and early teen years in Saudi Arabia.



Community projects

Dr. El-Sabaawi is planning to do research on the effects of urban development on stream systems in Vancouver Island.

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