Zach Nickerson M.S. Biology, University of Alabama B.S. Biology and Chemistry, Indiana State University
I study the influence of freshwater mussel communities on sediment biogeochemistry. My thesis research involves 1) studying how species-specific mussel traits influence sediment biogeochemistry through the alteration of sediment distribution and characteristics, and 2) how changing mussel community structure influences nitrogen cycling in the Sipsey River, AL. My general research interests are biogeochemistry and ecosystem ecology. What interests me the most are organisms that provision biogeochemical ecosystem functions in aquatic systems.
Thesis title: Influence of native freshwater mussel functional traits and community structure on nitrogen removal in stream sediments
M.S. Biology, University of Alabama B.S. Fisheries and Wildlife, University of Nebraska
My broad research interests regard the cycling and transport of nutrients within and across aquatic ecosystems. My research project focuses on how the secondary production of larval anurans (tadpoles) in isolated wetlands affects broader wetland characteristics such as influencing algal and biofilm production through excretion or sequestration of nutrients through biomass production. Anuran development requires a relatively large amount of phosphorus for building bone tissues. This unique life history characteristic as well as the general limitation of phosphorus in freshwater ecosystems raises particular interest in its cycling and availability in systems with high densities of larval anurans, such as geographically isolated wetlands in the southeast.
Thesis title: The role of anurans as consumers in ecosystem processes within geographically isolated wetlands in the southeastern United States
Publications: McLeay, S.M.*, L.L. Smith, C.L. Atkinson. Accepted. The stoichiometry of larval anuran development. Journal of Freshwater Ecology.