Great news and a lot of interesting work to come! In collaboration with Jeff Lozier from UA and Colin Jackson and Ryan Garrick at Ole Miss, we have received funding from the NSF Dimensions of Biodiversity Program to investigate biodiversity in freshwater mussels in the southeastern USA, the biodiversity hotspot for these imperiled organisms. The project is highly multi-disciplinary and will include work on population genomics, gut microbiomes, phylogenomics, species functional traits, and ecosystem ecology! The lab will be searching for a PhD student and a postdoc shortly. To see more details, check out the project website: mussels.ua.edu
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!
The Atkinson lab went to the Society for Freshwater meeting in Detroit. Carla, Brian, and Zach all gave oral presentations at the meeting and Monica gave a poster presentation. You can find their abstracts here. We also had a great time catching up with the Caryn Vaughn, Dan Allen, and Jeff Wesner labs over dinner.
Our new paper is out in the journal Sustainability on @PECS_Project (www.pecswaterses.com), WaterSES, where we examine key sustainability challenges for social-ecological systems dealing with water scarcity and water governance. This is in collaboration with several other researchers that span various research expertise such as law, social science, ecology, and geography (http://pecswaterses.com/team).
A manuscript in early view (SEE IT HERE) in the journal Oecologia highlighting the importance of algal-based (autochthonous) resources to stream insects in high elevation tropical streams using stable isotopic analysis in conjunction with Bayesian mixing models. These results also suggest that aquatic invertebrates may be using resources based on both availability and the quality (as indicated by N:P) of the resources which both change as a function of elevation in these streams. These results are relevant to understanding how resource availability and food web structure may be altered in response to climate change.
With the end of the semester approaching we needed to blow some steam off and knock down some pins! The Atkinson and Cherry lab got together for some bowling and pizza. This led to some new interactions, friends, and hopefully future collaborations among members of each lab.
Abby took first place for the College of Arts & Sciences Natural Sciences division at the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Conference for her poster "Nutrient Limitation and the Effects of Mussel Abundance on Primary Productivity in the Sipsey River". She was recognized at a lunch at Bryant Denny stadium yesterday. Nice work Abby!
Dr. Carla L. Atkinson
My life is like a float trip!