Jan Ciborowski

Professor, NSERC/COSIA Industrial Research Chair in Oil Sands Wetland Reclamation

Department of Biological Sciences

PhD – Zoology

University of Alberta

MSc – Zoology

University of Toronto

Contact information


Biological Sciences : BI398

Research and teaching

Research areas

  • Aquatic ecology
  • Community ecology
  • Ecotoxicology
  • Invertebrate biology
  • Bioindicator development

Research and Opportunities


Key Areas of Research

Collaborative work with other scientists to monitor Great Lakes wetland health and develop environmental indicators using invertebrates, fishes, and aquatic plants http://www.greatlakeswetlands.org

Studies of how to rebuild wetlands following mining in the oil sands region of northern Alberta and developing quantitative indicators of succession. His team is characterizing the effects of landscape setting, hydrology, and water quality on the food web, production, and the biota colonizing recently-constructed and naturally-forming wetlands. 


Current Opportunities

I am looking for students to join my lab at the undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral level. I strive to provide a stimulating, challenging, collaborative, and safe training environment. Projects couple fundamental with applied aspects of environmental science.  Research is well-balanced between field and lab work. There are opportunities for research at all levels beginning in spring 2020, focused on:

  • wetland characteristics and function:  water and ionic balances, production, food web structure, succession, and;
  • biological indicators of wetland ecological condition, emphasizing aquatic and riparian vegetation, aquatic invertebrates, and avifauna of young wetlands in the Athabasca oil sands region.

Please contact me and include a brief statement of your general research interests and a CV if you are interested.


Dr. Jan Ciborowski received his PhD from the University of Alberta studying how the flow patterns in a river interact with aquatic invertebrate swimming and drifting behaviour to determine the organisms’ microdistribution. As a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta he studied how larvae of black flies altered their position relative to one another to maximize their feeding efficiency and minimize interference with other members of aggregations on stones.

He broadened his research in aquatic ecology as a professor at the University of Windsor, developing interests in aquatic ecotoxicology and studying the role of benthic invertebrates in the transfer of contaminants from sediments into the food web. Working first in western Lake Erie and later in wetlands of the Great Lakes and the Alberta oil sands region, he has been interested in the effects of environmental disturbance on aquatic systems, especially how our use of  the landscape affects vegetation, invertebrates & fishes, and the food web in wetlands and at river mouths.


Kovalenko,  KE, JJH Ciborowski, C Daly, DG Dixon, AJ Farwell, AL Foote, KR Frederick, JM Gardner Costa, K Kennedy, K Liber, MC Roy, CA Slama, & JEG Smits. 2013. Carbon flow and food web structure in oil sands reclaimed wetlands Ecological Applications 23:1048-1060.

Kovalenko, KE, VJ Brady, TN Brown, JJH Ciborowski, NP Danz, JP Gathman, GE Host, RW Howe, LB Johnson, GJ Niemi, and ED Reavie. 2014. Congruence of community thresholds in response to anthropogenic stress in Great Lakes coastal wetlands. Freshwater Science 33:958-971

Allan, JD, PB McIntyre, JJH Ciborowski et al. 2015. Joint analysis of stressors and ecosystem services to enhance restoration effectiveness Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110, 372-377

Olker, JH,  KE Kovalenko, JJH Ciborowski, VJ Brady and  LB Johnson. 2016. Watershed land use and local habitat: Implications for habitat assessment. Wetlands 36:311-321.

Roy, MC L Foote, and JJH Ciborowski. 2016. Vegetation community composition in wetlands created following oil sand mining in Alberta, Canada. Journal of Environmental Management 172:18-28.

Van Mensel, D SR Chaganti, R Boudens, T Reid, JJH Ciborowski, C Weisener. 2017. Using gamma irradiation for stimulating microbial degradation potential in oil sands fluid fine tailings: metagenomic perspective. Microbial Ecology 74:362-372.

Smith, SDP, DB Bunnell, GA Burton Jr, JJH Ciborowski et al. 2019. Evidence for synergistic and antagonistic interactions among environmental stressors in the Laurentian Great Lakes. Ecological Indicators 101:203–211.

Zhang, L, Y Zhao D Hein-Griggs, L Barr and JJH Ciborowski. 2019. Projected extreme temperature and precipitation of the Laurentian Great Lakes Basin. Global and Planetary Change 172:325-335.

Host, GE, KE Kovalenko, TN Brown, JJH Ciborowski, LB Johnson 2019. Risk-based classification and interactive map of watersheds contributing anthropogenic stress to Laurentian Great Lakes coastal ecosystems.  Journal of Great Lakes Research 45: 609-618.

Kovalenko, KE, LB Johnson, VJ Brady, JJH Ciborowski, MJ Cooper et al. 2019.  Hotspots and bright spots in functional and taxonomic fish diversity.  Freshwater Science 38: 480-490