Research

Broadly, I am interested in how diversity in species traits or habitats shape climate change response in aquatic ecosystems. My work spans multiple systems and organisms, but is motivated by enhancing decision-making around management or conservation.

Current research areas include:

Life history trait diversity in changing environments 

Across and within species, diverse life history traits centrally shape how organisms react to a changing environment. My work on trait diversity has included how variable or changing environments interact with juvenile salmon migration phenology, breeding phenology in threespine sticklebacks, and fish physiology (thermal tolerances and body stoichiometry).

Currently, I pursue these questions with focus on a culturally-important subsistence fish species. Since summer 2017, I have worked alongside multiple collaborators at the Gwich’in Renewable Resource Board, in Arctic communities, and at other universities and agencies (University of Victoria, Department of Fisheries and Oceans) on a community-based project on on Łuk digaii (Broad Whitefish, Coregonus nasus) in the lower Mackenzie River. Active research questions include describing fish migratory diversity and habitat use, the role of life history diversity in contaminant exposure, and population response to a rapidly-changing watershed. For more information and recent publications, visit the whitefish project website here.

Biological community response to long-term changes

Northern latitudes are experiencing warming temperatures and an extension of the growing season. This has implications for multiple lake processes and for taxa across trophic levels. Past work has examined the role of fine-scale habitat heterogeneity in mediating how fish communities respond to climate warming, and current projects look at the implications of novel ice-free winters on zooplankton communities and sensitivities of different zooplankton assemblages spring ice breakup phenology.

IMG_4943

The flow of energy in different types of aquatic food webs

Organization and productivity of aquatic food webs are shaped by the source and type of carbon and nutrients entering the aquatic system, and by lake “starting” conditions and rates of change. Ongoing work on small, high-elevation Maine lakes uses landscape and water chemistry features to identify differences in zooplankton communities (with collaborators Dr Julia Daly, UMaine-Farmington, and Dr Sarah Nelson, Appalachian Mountain Club). Additional components of this project identify the contributions of terrestrial sources to the base of the food web and the role of fish introductions on community structure.

Projects with other collaborators have looked at links between lake metabolism and carbon source across lake types, and the use of hierarchical models to examine carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes in food webs.

Select media coverage

Bowling, Eric. 2021. “Gwich’in traditional knowledge adapts to climate change”. Inuvik Drum/News North. https://www.nnsl.com/news/gwichin-traditional-knowledge-adapts-to-climate-change/

Canadian Science Publishing. 2020. “Ongoing monitoring by Indigenous communities enhances wildlife research”. Medium. https://medium.com/arctic-science/ongoing-monitoring-by-indigenous-communities-enhances-wildlife-research

Mulherin, A. 2020. “UMF graduate goes from volunteer to career, in the face of the pandemic”. UMF Media relations https://www.umf.maine.edu/2020/07/umf-graduate-goes-from-volunteer-to-career-in-the-face-of-the-pandemic/

Mastrangelo, R. 2019. “Into the Wild”. Farmington First Magazine. https://www.umf.maine.edu/alumni/into-the-wild/

Ogden, L.E. 2019. “How salmon can transform a landscape”. BBC Futures. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20191128-the-rivers-that-are-losing-their-salmon

Lant, K. 2019. “Monitoring Wilson Lake all year long from underwater”. Environmental Monitor. https://www.fondriest.com/news/monitoring-wilson-lake-all-year-long-from-underwater.htm

Friends of Wilson Lake. 2019. “Wilson Lake buoy: eyes underwater”. Sun Journal. https://www.sunjournal.com/2019/04/26/wilson-lake-buoy-eyes-underwater/

Edwards, T. 2019. “Watching the whitefish”. News North. https://nnsl.com/nwtnewsnorth/watching-the-whitefish/

Scott, M. 2018. “Fort McPherson couple forgoes retirement, participates in whitefish research”. Canadian Broadcast Company. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/mackenzie-delta-fish-camp-1.4758941

Segerstrom, C. 2018. “Tossing salmon for science”. High Country News. https://www.hcn.org/issues/50.20/scientific-research-tossing-salmon-for-science

Legere, J. 2017. “How a chance meeting led to community-based fish research in the Peel”. Canadian Broadcast Company. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/whitefish-peel-river-fort-mcpherson-researchers-1.4269158

Ma, M. 2017. “Climate change prompts Alaska fish to change breeding behavior”. UW News. https://www.washington.edu/news/2017/01/18/climate-change-prompts-alaska-fish-to-change-breeding-behavior/

Rosen, Y. 2017. “As water temperatures rise, some fish are breeding earlier—and more often”. Anchorage Daily News. https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/science/2017/01/29/as-water-temperatures-warm-some-fish-are-breeding-earlier-and-more-often/