Dan Knapp's research was published in Ecosphere! It was quite a feat as Dan sampled 11 species of larval anurans (tadpoles!) across their developmental stages. His work shows that their tissue stoichiometry varies due to their functional traits such as body size and developmental period. Further this data was scaled to examine their nutrient storage (C, N, and P) across four wetlands by combining the stage-specific tissue nutrient data with quantitative surveys of tadpole abundance, biomass, and life history stage.
Free full-text is available!
Megan Kubala (MS student) and Madison Knapp (wundergrad student) both received kudos this past week for their poster presentations at the Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society (FMCS) and Undergraduate and Creative Activity Conference (URCA), respectively. Their posters are below. We even got to meet Big Al at the URCA award ceremony! Nice work to both of them. It was stiff competition out there. Also, want to recognize the other lab members that presented at FMCS and URCA.
The following lab members presented at FMCS: Garrett Hopper (12-minute talk), Irene Sanchez Gonzalez (5-minute lightning talk), Matt Lodato (poster), Taylor Kelley (poster), Jonathan Buchanan (poster), & lastly Dr. Atkinson (12-minute talk & a 5-minute lightning talk)
These WUNDERGRADS also presented posters at URCA and did a fantastic job: Jonathan Buchanan & Taylor Kelly
A collaborative manuscript was just published online at Freshwater Science! Zach Nickerson, a MS lab alumni, led up a mesocosm study with two undergraduate students, Anne Marie Green and Lauren Shouse, to examine how species identity and richness impacted energy flows in food webs. Overall, the study suggested that through niche complementarity, higher mussel species richness results in non-additive effects on ecosystem functions.
Two papers from the lab were recently published in Diversity and Functional Ecology!
Garrett Hopper, a postdoc in the lab, led the Functional Ecology paper to examine how freshwater mussels impact dissolved organic matter and nutrient fluxes. Our paper shows that mussels provide fluxes of labile energy and nutrients to stream microbial communities as they transform ingested particulate materials.
Irene Sanchez Gonzalez, a PhD student in the lab, published the stark results from our 2019 survey of the Bogue Chitto Creek. This study highlights that while fish communities appear to be similar to historical data, mussels have sharply declined in abundance and diversity in this Strategic Habitat Unit. These differences in aquatic community responses may have to do with the sedentary nature of mussels in comparison to fish.
Nice work team!
It is a New Year and there is a new lab publication out! Here we show how freshwater mussel excretion and biodeposition influences both green and brown food webs. Using mesocosm experiments here at UA, we assessed how three species of freshwater mussels that occupy three different phylogenetic tribes influenced benthic algal accrual, ecosystem metabolism, cotton strip decomposition, leaf litter decomposition, and litter-associated fungal biomass. The results suggest that nutrient regeneration by mussels most strongly regulates green food webs, with some impacts to brown food webs, suggesting that consumers have interactive effects on microbial functioning in freshwaters. Check out the full publication!
With this new year, there is so much to do and everyone is looking forward to getting back to work!
Two new exciting articles on freshwater mussels are now in their typeset forms online. The paper recently published in Ecology highlights data suggesting that tissue stoichiometry may be driven in response to evolutionary history within a single subfamily radiation of unionid mussels. The Journal of Molluscan studies article shows that while the digestive microbiome of mussels is distinct in comparison to the environment, the environment strongly regulates the microbiome that is maintained by the unionid mussel host.
I am excited to share that my NSF CAREER proposal was funded! This $1.1M project will examine the linkages between species diversity and ecological function in the very locally abundant and diverse group of freshwater mussels. The project will employ a combination of observational, experimental, and modeling approaches. With this the lab will also conduct workshops and organize and assist with day camps at the Alabama Natural History Museum. To learn more about the project, check out the NSF website and the Biological Sciences News.
Congratulations to Irene! Her poster presentation at the Society for Freshwater Science's Summer of Science was awarded runner up among graduate students in the Basic Science category. Not only did she receive an award, but she also will receive reimbursement for her registration fee for the 2021 SFS Annual meeting! Looking forward to seeing everyone in person again in Philadelphia! Fingers crossed!
There are two new articles in early view out from the Atkinson lab group! An article published in Freshwater Science (presents length-dry mass relationships to predict biomass of unionid freshwater mussels. This paper provides species-, tribe-, and family- level scaling equations as well as a R toolkit for outputting biomass estimates at each level of taxonomic resolution. Also, Brian first-authored an article that shows that feral pigs selectively feed on particular species of mussels, particularly pig toes (Fusconaia cerina). While this was not a planned study, it provides useful insights on how this invasive species may impact aquatic communities.
We all could use some good news right now! Megan Davis, a M.S. student in the lab, received the prestigious E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Graduate Fellowship! Her work aims to examine the differential roles of native mussels and Corbicula and their microbial gut communities. She has already been very active here in her first semester running a mesocosm experiment. We hope it it safe to get back to it soon as there are many samples that could be analyzed!
Dr. Carla L. Atkinson
My life is like a float trip!