Research

Broadly, I’m interested in patterns of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in stream and riparian areas. I’m also interested in food webs and reciprocal subsidies between aquatic and terrestrial systems. My current research projects fall under these areas:

Artificial light and stream functioning

blaney_ds

(Photo credit: Nora Schlenker)

Artificial lights, such as streetlights, are ubiquitous in urban areas. However, the potential effects of artificial lights on the ecology of stream systems is just starting to be researched in earnest. Previously, I found that aquatic invertebrate drift is greatly reduced by light levels typical of urban areas. Perhaps surprisingly, I didn’t see any change in the growth rates of the drift feeding fish in my study sites, cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki). I am exploring this a bit more through the use of underwater infrared cameras to observe fish activity and feeding behavior with and without light. The clip below shows a small cutthroat feeding from the stream surface on a “lit” night. 

Research with undergraduates at Willamette University

Through funding from Willamette University, Stephanie Lenox (English Department) and I will be leading a team of undergraduates in a Liberal Arts Research Collaborative (LARC) to investigate the storytelling of science and the science of storytelling. Students will be conducting scientific research projects with me, trying to understand how different aspects of exposure to artificial light changes patterns of insect drift, while also exploring new and creative ways to communicate their results to a wider audience. Read more about the project here.

Seasonal changes in headwater streams

MayflyIntake2

Headwater streams show strong seasonal changes in flow, temperature and morphology, particularly during winter high flows and summer low flows. I am using under-water video to investigate how seasonal changes in flows and temperature affect cutthroat trout foraging behavior and competitive interactions in headwater streams of UBC’s Malcolm Knapp Research Forest.

Science Communication

Some colleagues of mine and I are trying to better understand how various target groups (e.g., policy makers, the public) access science information so we know how to get them the results they might find interesting or useful. We distributed an online and paper-based survey to better understand how people access and share scientific information and our manuscript is now in review. Thanks to all who took time to participate in the survey, your help is greatly appreciated!