Current (Postdoc): DEB Modeling and Quagga Mussels

Understanding the physiology of an organism can give insight to the organism’s growth, resource use, and impact on its environment. Within the Great Lakes, Zebra and Quagga Mussels have had significant impacts on their invaded ecosystem. However, a majority of mussel physiology research has focused on Zebra Mussels and currently, much less is known about Quagga Mussels. Therefore, we are conducting experiments to investigate Quagga Mussel physiology under controlled environmental conditions. These data will be used to create a dynamic energy budget (DEB) model for Quagga Mussels within the Great Lakes.

 Current: Dissertation Side Projects

Assessing freshwater snail populations and species composition in the Detroit and St. Clair rivers 

Comparing two different methods for estimating dreissenid densities from PONAR sediment grabs 

Analyzing habitat and population differences between juvenile and adult dreissenid mussels in the Detroit and St. Clair rivers

 Past (Dissertation): Species Distribution Models of Mussels in the Great Lakes

In the Great Lakes region, native freshwater mussels (or unionids) have seen dramatic population declines due to habitat degradation and invasive species. Two invasive species, the Zebra and Quagga Mussels, have had particularly deleterious effects on native unionid populations. However, there is still hope! Refuge areas with intact unionid assemblages have been found in Lake St. Clair, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario. My dissertation project assessed unionid populations remaining in the Detroit and St. Clair rivers (which are a part of the Lake Huron-Erie corridor) and used the remnant population presence data to create unionid distribution models in order to increase our understanding of unionid mussel distributions in the Detroit and St. Clair rivers. This work resulted in publications in American Midland Naturalist and Ecological Modelling.

At the same time, we surveyed invasive dreissenid (Zebra and Quagga mussels) densities in each river to create a predictive species distribution models based on their presence locations. These models have implications for unionid habitat conservation, fish spawning reef development, and restoration projects within the Detroit and St. Clair rivers as well as potential for predicting dreissenid presence in other large river systems. This research was published in Journal of Great Lakes Research.

 Past (Thesis): Understanding Red Fillet Syndrome in Channel Catfish in Northeastern Mississippi

 For my master's thesis, I assessed the prevalence of red fillet syndrome in the Channel Catfish aquaculture industry and investigated potential causes of the disease. My thesis research had four chapters that have since been published in Aquaculture Research, Aquaculture, and Journal of the World Aquaculture Society.

1. Comprehensive water quality analysis of catfish ponds. Including pre-harvest period to seining period, to transport to the processing plant.

2. Quantification of red fillet in the catfish industry. By counting and weighing reject fillets for a year, we quantified 2 kinds of red fillet in catfish: punctured and blotchy.

3. To target possible causes of red fillet, we exposed Channel Catfish to different poor water quality conditions for 12 hours and measured their physiological response.

4. In addition to varying water quality conditions, we also injected Channel Catfish with the bacteria Aeromonas sobria and measured their physiological response.

 Past: Out-of-Season Spawning of White Crappie

Before I began my thesis on red fillet in Channel Catfish, I helped finish another graduate student's thesis work on artificially spawning White Crappie. We analyzed the effect of additional hormone injections on out-of-season spawning success as well as the vitality of White Crappie sperm using different cryopreservation techniques.