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
(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.However, some researchers in Europe did not find a strong response by drifting invertebrates to the experimental addition of light to streams. Undergraduate researchers I have mentored, including an interdisciplinary research team and a thesis student, have found evidence suggesting that aquatic insects exposed to light for many generations may adapt to this disturbance.
I have plans to extend this research to look at aquatic insect behavior in a common garden, as well as to study hatchery versus wild Salmonid responses to artificial light at night.
Multiple Stressors in Urban Streams
Artificial light at night is just one of many stressors faced by stream organisms in urban areas. I am currently developing projects with collaborators that will tease apart how light interacts with other common urban stressors to alter the phenology and evolution of stream organisms as well as their interactions with one another.
Because my research has so many direct applications to policy decisions, I have made it a goal of mine to better understand how to effectively share my results with the general public and policy makers. My research in this area has centered on finding out what media to use to reach specific groups, as well as discovering better strategies for social media use to share information.
In the future, I would like to look at how various science communication techniques are viewed by people in target groups.