Department of Biology|Loyola University Chicago

Department of Biology


Sapna Sharma

Ph.D. 2008, University of Toronto
Assistant Professor
Aquatic Community Ecology
Phone: (773) 508-8357


Broadly, I am interested in predicting the effects of environmental stressors on ecosystems and improving the use of quantitative approaches used to generate these predictions.  More specifically, my research falls into three research umbrellas: i) community ecology, ii) quantitative ecology, and iii) spatial ecology and time-series analysis.

Community Ecology

Human-induced ecological stressors, such as global climate change, pollution, introduction of non-indigenous species, and alterations in land use, water quality and habitat, are impacting our native ecosystems. I am interested in predicting the effects of a multitude of ecological stressors with a high degree of certainty to conserve native ecosystems.  My research aims to predict the effects of single and multiple environmental stressors on ecosystems, primarily focussing on aquatic ecosystems.

Quantitative Ecology

Our ability to forecast future biological responses to ecological stressors is limited by the predictive accuracy of current ecological models.  I have been evaluating a suite of traditional and non-traditional univariate and multivariate statistical approaches to determine which are most appropriate for ecological data.  This has led to improvements in our ability to effectively predict the effects of environmental variability on habitat availability, species distributions, and community composition.  

Spatial ecology and Time-series analysis

The ability to elucidate and incorporate spatial and temporal processes into ecological models still presents a large problem in many ecological studies.  I am interested in quantifying the importance of spatial and temporal patterns to ecological processes, such as limnological and community dynamics. I am also interested in quantifying the role of the interaction of spatial and temporal processes at structuring communities at broad spatial and temporal scales.


Sharma, S., Vander Zanden, M.J., Magnuson, J.J. and Lyons, J. 2011. Comparing climate change and species invasions as drivers of coldwater fish population extirpations. PLoS ONE 6(8): e22906.

Sharma, S., Legendre, P. , De Caceres, M., and Boisclair, D. How are invasive species changing patterns of community composition across thousands of lakes? Ecography. In press.

Mikulyuk, A., Sharma, S., Van Egeren, S., Nault, M.E. and Hauxwell, J. The role of environmental, land-use, and spatial processes on structuring aquatic macrophyte communities. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. In press.

Mitro, M., Lyons, J. and Sharma, S. 2011. Coldwater Fish and Fisheries Working Group Report. Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI) First Assessment Report.

Sharma, S., Couturier, S. and Cote, S.D. 2009. Impacts of climate change on the seasonal distribution of migratory caribou. Global Change Biology 15: 2549-2562.

Sharma, S., Jackson, D.A. and Minns, C.K. 2009. Quantifying the effects of climate change and invasive species on native species. Ecography 32: 517-525.

Sharma, S., Herborg, M-L, Therriault, T.T. 2009. Predicting smallmouth bass invasion and their potential impact on native salmonid and cyprinid populations. Diversity and Distributions 15: 831-840.

Sharma, S., Walker, S. and Jackson, D.A. 2008. Empirical modelling of lake water relationships: A comparison of predictive modelling approaches. Freshwater Biology 53: 897-911.

Sharma, S. and Jackson, D.A. 2008. Predicting smallmouth bass incidence across North America: Comparison of statistical approaches. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 65: 471-481.

Sharma, S., Jackson, D.A., Minns, C.K. and Shuter, B.J. 2007. Will northern fish populations be in hot water because of climate change? Global Change Biology 13: 2052-2064.


Department of Biology
Loyola University Chicago · 1032 W. Sheridan Road, Chicago,IL 60660
Phone: 773.508.3620 · Fax: 773.508.3646 · E-mail:

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