Fish from fertilizer
The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has experienced long-term declines in multiple measures of aquatic ecosystem health, including decreases in pelagic phytoplankton and native fishes. We performed whole ecosystem experiments to test whether adding nutrients may be a bottom-up strategy to increase productivity in a nutrient-limited sections of the Delta. Hydrodynamics, nutrients, and light influence ecosystem metabolism and phytoplankton dynamics, all off which need to be considered in ecosystem management strategies designed to enhance basal food web resources. More info at U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Twitter.
Aquatic Ecosystem Spatial Variability
How does water chemisty vary within individual lakes and rivers? How representative are fixed point sampling locations (stream gauges, buoys, etc.) of entire aquatic ecosystems? Colleagues and I researched within-ecosystem patterns of water chemistry in lakes and rivers across the contiguous USA. Using spatial patterns of water chemistry, we identified drivers of spatial heterogeneity and effects on ecosystem process. In rivers, lakes, and estuaries patterns of water chemistry and ecosystem processes reflect physical and biogeochemical processes acting at a variety of temporal and spatial scales. Interview with Larry Meiller at Wisconsin Public Radio.
Saint Louis River Estuary
Draining mainly wetland and coniferous forest of northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, the Saint Louis River mixes with urban runoff and Lake Superior producing a heterogeneous aquatic mosaic. Each source water (river, lake, urban) has a unique chemical signature, which can be used to assess mixing dynamics. These sources vary in contribution both across the estuary and through time, leading to variation in carbon and nitrogen cycling processes. This project was a collaboration with Chip Small, Jacques Finlay, and Bob Sterner at the University of Minnesota. Also instrumental in the project was the Wisconsin Sea Grant, and the Lake Superior National Estuary Research Reserve.
Photo credit: AP Photo/The Duluth News-Tribune, Bob King
Olympic National Park
I was privileged enough to be able to spend my summers hiking through Olympic National Park as a backcountry aquatic ecology technician. My crew and I were sounded by unique aquatic ecosystems (intertidal zones, large lowland lakes, and sub-alpine lakes) that we instrumented and monitored for physical, chemical, and community characteristics. Situated at the far northwest corner of the continental USA, Olympic National Park receives little point source pollution, and its changing environment can be used as a baseline for comparison with other regions.
As a Field Specialist, one of many tasks included storm discharge monitoring for the City of Seattle. During large rain events, my crew and I would measure the total discharge of city streams. Urban streams are often very flashy due to a high percentage of impervious surfaces, and can quickly breach banks causing damage to infrastructure. We also built trails and implemented vegetation management plans for governmental, non-profit, and private land managers.
Haleakala National Park
As a Student Conservation Association (SCA) intern in Maui, my crew and I were stewards of the vegetation resources of Haleakala National Park. Habitats varied immensely within a small geographic area and included, coastlines, rain-forests, prairies, and alpine deserts. Native Hawaiian vegetation is highly susceptible to invasion, and protection is a constant battle. The Hawaiian Islands' landscapes have been highly altered by human settlement and globalization. By restoring ad protecting the vegetation of Haleakala National Park, we hope to keep a small part of Hawaii in its natural state.
Toolik Lake Field Station
Situated on the north slope of Alaska, Toolik Lake is the center of arctic research for the USA. As a Research Assistant for the Arctic Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site, I collected and analyzed water samples from lakes and rivers. The data set generated here shows long term changes to permafrost depths, periods of open water, and aquatic nutrient concentrations. By studying a system void of development at the top of the Earth, we can better understand how our Planet's aquatic resources may behave in response to global change.