Research Projects

Detection and monitoring of invasive plants using eDNA (current)

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Eurasian milfoil, an invasive plant

Early detection makes an enormous difference in our ability to contain or eradicate invasive plant populations, but extensive monitoring efforts are expensive and resource-intensive. An FEC Lab Project in collaboration with USGS’ Western Fisheries Research Center, using lab and field approaches we will assess the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) for use as an early detection and monitoring tool in Washington lakes. Our efforts focuses on Egeria densa and Myriophyllum spicatum, two species of concern in the Pacific Northwest.

 

Olympic Peninsula soundscapes (current)

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Old growth forest near the Hoh River Trail

The Olympic Peninsula along the northwest coast of Washington State is famous for wild, remote beauty, natural vistas, and endemic species. Military overflights due to naval warfare training have increased substantially in recent years, however, creating new disturbance in these much-loved areas. In partnership with the National Parks Conservation Association, One Square Inch of Silence, and area tribes, I am documenting and contrasting current and previous soundscape data to understand the scope of change for the region.

 

Assessment of non-native parrotfeather (2015-2017)

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Parrotfeather in a Chehalis River slough

Non-native aquatic plants can have far reaching impacts in freshwater systems, but environmental constraints regulating spread and abundance is not well understood. This multi-year FEC Lab project examines the distribution and extent of non-native parrotfeather (Myriophyllum aquaticum) in the Chehalis River in relation to local and landscape scale drivers of presence and persistence. Field work was conducted in 2015 and 2016 in conjunction with partners at Washington State Dept of Fish & Wildlife and Dept of Natural Resources, with results currently in progress.

Distribution and detection of north coast Olympic mudminnow (2016)

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Olympic mudminnow (Novumbra hubbsi)

Olympic mudminnow (Novumbra hubbsi) are Washington State’s only endemic fish. A state-wide genetics study in 2012 identified the populations along the north Olympic coast as historically isolated and apparently rare on the landscape. In this FEC Lab Project (funded by the Oregon Zoo Foundation and US Fish & Wildlife) we developed a range-wide habitat suitability model for Olympic mudminnow and tested it by sampling high, medium, and low probability areas along the north Olympic Coast. Our work led to identification of a new location with mudminnow, and supported use of the habitat model to help detect populations.

 

Ecological integrity in freshwaters (2014 – 2016)

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Drylands ecosystem

A national review of approaches for assessment of ecological integrity of freshwater ecosystems. Ecological integrity is a primary component of freshwater conservation, but methods vary widely in scale, efficiency, and sustainability. The range of approaches in use by the national network of LCCs offered an opportunity to summarize assessment trends, identify critical data gaps, and evaluate the success with which assessments are currently integrated into conservation planning. For more information, check out our publication in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment and the FEC lab website.

Implications of aquatic weed management for fish populations (2013-2015)

Olympic mudminnow (Novumbra hubbsi)

An FEC Lab project to examine effects of aquatic weed removal on habitat quality and availability for fish populations. This project also focused on understanding the habitat needs for Washington State’s only endemic species, Olympic mudminnow. With a limited range and little known about habitat requirements and population connectivity, Olympic mudminnow are listed as ‘Sensitive’ in Washington State. Two publications from this work appeared in 2016: Environmental drivers of occupancy and detection of Olympic mudminnow (Transactions of the American Fisheries Society) and Multi-trophic impacts of an aquatic invasive plant (Freshwater Biology)

Soundscape Ecology (2012)

Spectrogram

An FEC Lab project which uses the “soundscape” (environmental noise in an environment) to examine differences in species diversity and abundance in response to urbanization. We crowdfunded some of the research dollars (click here to see the project description and video on RocketHub), and the results – describing soundscapes of lakes across an urbanization gradient – were published in the journal PloS One (article).

 

Climate change and invasive species: impacts on juvenile Chinook salmon (2009 – 2012)

Smallmouth bass and juvenile Chinook salmon

I put my previous general salmon knowledge to use as a Master’s student with Julian Olden at the University of Washington. I focused on how juvenile salmon cope with novel predators (see 2012 article in Freshwater Biology) and effects of climate change.  I was also very interested in the relative importance of lethal and sublethal effects of these multiple stressors, with this work published in Canadian Journal of Fishery and Aquatic Sciences.

 

 

Effects of environmental conditions on survival of Puget Sound salmon (2007-2009)

Townetting in Puget Sound

As a research biologist with NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center, I worked on multiple projects related to Puget Sound salmon ecology.  Favorites were temperature and flow experiments in an artificial stream channel at Manchester, Washington, and spatial analysis of environmental conditions affecting populations of Puget Sound salmon. I was also part of a project to compare current and historical forage fish status and abundance in Puget Sound, published in MEPS in April 2015 (open access article here).

Bering-Aleutian Salmon International Survey (2007)

Crossing the Arctic Circle

I snagged the chance to volunteer as a research assistant (and become a Bluenose!) with the Alaska Fisheries Science Center on a juvenile salmon cruise in the Bering and Chukchi Seas. BASIS is a cooperative, international research program to understand the impacts of climate change on salmon in northern ecosystems. They have conducted extensive surveys of multiple trophic levels in the Bering Sea since 2002.

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