David T. Zanatta
David T. Zanatta​Associate Professor
Brooks Hall 335 (Office)
Brooks Hall 301 (Lab)

  • B.Sc., Laurentian University, 1998
  • M.Sc., University of Guelph, 2001
  • Ph.D., University of Toronto, 2008
  • Postdoc, Trent University, 2007-2008
Teaching Areas
Conservation Biology, Ecology, Evolution, Invertebrate Biology
Research Fields
Molecular ecology and conservation biology in aquatic systems
Current Research Projects

My lab’s research focuses on evolutionary and ecological questions in aquatic systems.  Unfortunately, many of our aquatic systems are degraded to the point that this research has major implications for conservation. We primarily study freshwater mollusks in the Great Lakes region.  Freshwater mollusks are among the most imperiled groups of organisms on Earth. Our research involves going into the field, jumping into lakes and rivers and counting mollusks while taking tissue samples. We then bring the field-collected tissues back to the lab to do genetic analyses and ultimately statistical analyses to understand how populations and species relate to each other. This is especially important for conservation because if we don’t know and understand the species and populations that we’re working on, we can’t easily manage or protect them.

Ongoing (funded) projects in my lab include: 

  • Genetic population structure of native freshwater mollusks in the Great Lakes region.
  • Conservation of native freshwater mussels in nearshore and coastal zones of the Great Lakes.
  • Host fish identification and propagation of at-risk freshwater mussels.
Selected Publications
  • Rowe, M.T. and D.T. Zanatta. 2015. Investigating the genetic variation and structure of a native unionid mussel in the Laurentian Great Lakes following an invasion of dreissenid mussels.  Biological Invasions 17: 351-364.
  • Burlakova, L.E., B.L. Tulumello, A.Y. Karatayev, R.A. Krebs, D.W. Schloesser, W.L. Paterson, T.A. Griffith, M.W. Scott,  T.D Crail, and D.T. Zanatta. 2014. Competitive replacement of invasive congeners may relax impact on native species: interactions among zebra, quagga, and native unionid mussels. PLoS ONE 9(12): e114926.
  • Scott, M.W., M.T. Begley, R.A. Krebs, and D.T. Zanatta. 2014. Mitochondrial DNA variation in the Eastern Pondmussel, Ligumia nasuta (Bivalvia: Unionoida), in the Great Lakes region. Walkerana 17(2): 60-67.
  • Lucy, F., L.E. Burlakova, A. Karatayev, S. Mastitsky, and D.T. Zanatta2014. Zebra mussel impacts on unionids:  A synthesis of trends in North America and Europe. Pp. 623-646 in "Quagga and Zebra Mussels: Biology, Impact, and Control, 2nd Edition"​ Edited by T.F. Nalepa & D.W. Schloesser. CRC Press, Boca Raton FL.
  • Zanatta, D.T. and A.T. Harris. 2013. Phylogeography and genetic variability of the freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionidae) Ellipse, Venustaconcha ellipsiformis (Conrad 1836), and Bleeding Tooth, V. pleasii (Marsh 1891). American Malacological Bulletin 31(2): 267-279.
  • Sherman, J.J., B.A. Murry, D. A. Woolnough, D.T. Zanatta, and D.G. Uzarski. 2013. Assessment of remnant unionid assemblages in a selection of Great Lakes coastal wetlands. Journal of Great Lakes Research 39: 201-210.
  • Harris, A.T., D.A. Woolnough, and D.T. Zanatta. 2011. Insular lake island biogeography: Using lake metrics to predict diversity in littoral zone mollusk communities. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 30(4): 997-1008.
  • Zanatta, D.T. and D.A. Woolnough. 2011. Confirmation of Obovaria olivariaHickorynut mussels (Bivalvia: Unionidae), in the Mississagi River, OntariCanada. Northeastern Naturalist 18(1):1­6.
  • Crail, T.D., R.A. Krebs, and D.T. Zanatta. 2011. Unionid mussels from nearshore zones of Lake Erie. Journal of Great Lakes Research 37: 199-202
  • Zanatta, D.T. and C.C. Wilson. 2011. Testing congruency of geographic and genetic population structure for a freshwater mussel (Bivalvia: Unionoida) and its host fish. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 102: 669-685.​