We made it through the first 3 days of the semester! The first lab meeting was held today and several things are in works in the Atkinson lab. Glad to have a lot of hands available for getting through samples and several minds for digging through data and discussing results. Think its going to be a great semester! Dan made it fun by bringing an alligator snapping turtle along (this may have not actually happened)!
There is a new paper out from the lab in collaboration with Lora Smith, Amanda Subalusky, Julia Earl, David Mushet, David Scott, Stacey Lance, and Steve Johnson! The manuscript is an overview of the abiotic and biotic factors driving biological connectivity between seasonal wetlands and other landscape features. Check it out here: https://rdcu.be/47iR!
We are conducting a snail feeding study in collaboration with Hal Halvorson (Southern Miss), Kevin Kuehn (Southern Miss), and Bob Findlay (UA). This is a follow-up experiment to their fine-scale microbial characterization of leaf litter and priming under different light and nutrient manipulations. The feeding experiment will allow us to connect our fine-scale microbial characterization (especially biomass and carbon flow into different groups) to detrital versus algal contributions to consumer growth. We collected all our snails over the weekend and have the experiment up and running. Several undergraduate students from UA are helping in the effort. Gabi Dickinson, Abby Rankin, Lucas Glisson, and Maya Owens-Freeman have been helpful in making the setup successful! More to come!
Zach Nickerson successfully defended his master's thesis entitled "Influence of native freshwater mussel functional traits and community structure on nitrogen removal in stream sediments" today. His committee was composed of Carla, Behzad Mortazavi, Bob Findlay, and Lisa Davis (UA Geography). He did an excellent job and we look forward to see his future success and the papers to come! Celebrations ensued at Nicks in the Sticks and other undisclosed locations. Congratulations Zach!
Dan Knapp's experiment is about to kickoff to examine how predators impact tissue stoichiometry and excretion of larval anurans over growth and development. He has set his mesocosms up at the Jones Ecological Research Center and was able to collect leopard frog egg masses at a wetland onsite. This work is in collaboration with Dr. Lora Smith at the Jones Center. We are excited about his setup and look forward to seeing the results!
Brian van Ee received a research grant to fund more of his work examining the thermal preferences of unionid freshwater mussels. To date he has measured respiration, filtration, and excretion rates of five mussel species across a gradient of temperatures. This grant will allow him to expand this work to other species. Congratulations, Brian!
Atkinson traveled to Palau to help teach a course on Invertebrate Conservation with Rebecca Rundell (SUNY-ESF), Jesse Czekanski-Moir (SUNY-ESF), and Anuschka Faucci (Univ. of Hawaii - Manoa). Students were from SUNY-ESF and Syracuse University. Atkinson taught the students about general aquatic ecology with a focus on the invertebrate communities, which are decapod dominated (!), of these island streams. Rundell and Czekanski-Moir focused on terrestrial ecology and invertebrates (snails and ants!) while Faucci's shifted the students' attention to the marine realm. It was a great experience and we hope to include UA students the next time!
Dr. Carla L. Atkinson
My life is like a float trip!