Ohio State University’s Museum of Biological Diversity hosted their annual Open House this Saturday, April 6. The theme this year was “Magnified” – which was great for us at the Aquatic Ecology Lab! We demonstrated the numerous microscopic aquatic organisms and parts of aquatic organisms we study such as phytoplankton, zooplankton, larval fish, and fish otoliths. My dissertation project is focused on early life stages of walleye, so I was excited to demonstrate how fish start as larvae smaller than 1 cm, and can grow to be half a meter (or multiple feet) in length. Studying fish when they’re that tiny can be really difficult, but it’s a very important part of their life that may set up the trajectory of the rest of their life.
Below are some pictures from the day. The Museum had so many great activities, including an inset petting zoo!
Lyndsie explains algae blooms to one of our young visitors.
Can you see the stick bugs below?
You can see this one hanging down a bit doing an amazing imitation of some dead leaves hanging down
There were a lot of insects at the insect petting zoo, including these Madagascar cockroaches.
It was exciting to see all these amazing insects (plus tarantulas, scorpions, and so many more) close up.
I wish I’d had time to see everything else at the whole event!
Field work has been going on for a few weeks now. The Aquatic Ecology Lab crew was out on Lake Erie as soon as weather would permit this spring. They’re collecting zooplankton and larval fish for my dissertation, which means they have to be out as soon as it is safe to be on the water. I’m examining how food quality for larval walleye changes throughout the season and among years. Larval walleye eat zooplankton, they could be eating dramatically different items compared to another larval walleye hatched earlier or later in the year or in a different year. Also the nutritional value of zooplankton may vary depending on what food has been available to them and the temperature.
The weather right now isn’t as nice as it looks in the pictures below, but every week is getting warmer!
We finished up a dense week of learning limnology and aquatic biology concepts, field sampling, and identifying specimens. We caught some beautiful Lake Erie fish specimens and some terrific aquatic invertebrates. It was a fun week, but a lot of work for us and the students. Well worth it, though!
Students examining the contents of their D-net while river sampling
This collection jar became a mini-aquarium for these student’s specimens
A pumpkinseed caught electrofishing
One of my personal favorites – a yellow perch!
A bullhead catfish
The undersite of a hellgrammite, or dobsonfly larva showing its gills
This week I have the opportunity to assist with a class at Stone Lab on Gibraltar Island in the middle of Lake Erie. The course is an introduction to aquatic biology and Stone Lab is the perfect place to teach and get high school and college students excited about aquatic ecosystems.
I’m hoping we see a broad range of organisms and that I can get at least a few students interested in issues like hypoxia and the aquatic food web. For now, here are a few pictures of this beautiful place.
Headed to Gibraltar Island
The main lab facility on the island
One of the research vessels we can use for classes
Stone Lab also has research facilities on South Bass Island. If you’re interested in the courses taught here, the research done here, or just visiting, check out Ohio Sea Grant’s webpage.
The blog article I wrote to accompany my recently published paper, “Behavioral and physiological responses of yellow perch to moderate hypoxia,” was posted on The Fisheries Blog this week. In our study we examined how moderate concentrations of hypoxia affected yellow perch through 3 experiments:
Willingness to forage in hypoxia water
Physiological responses to acute exposure
Physiological responses to chronic exposure
Fish may be more likely to encounter moderate hypoxia. Severe hypoxia may be lethal or force them to leave the area, but fish may utilize areas with moderate hypoxia that overlap otherwise advantageous habitat (such as areas with an abundance of preferred prey). By examining foraging behavior in hypoxia as well as the acute and chronic effects of hypoxia, we hoped to determine how fish tolerate moderate hypoxia when necessary.
Despite our expectations that yellow perch would have greater behavioral and physiological responses as hypoxia became more severe (more depleted in oxygen), yellow perch did not have significantly different responses in any of our moderate hypoxic treatments across any of our experiments. Yellow perch likely used another method that we did not measure (such as increasing their breathing rate) to cope with moderate hypoxia. However, this does indicate that yellow perch may be well equipped to tolerate moderately low hypoxia. Therefore, they may utilize areas with moderate hypoxia to take advantage of other habitat features with little negative consequences.
Read more about it in our article in Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology <here> or on The Fisheries Blog <here>.
Earlier this month, my publication on yellow perch responses to moderate hypoxia was accepted, and now it’s available online! I’m writing a blog article to accompany it; in the meantime, find a temporarily open access version <here>.
In other news, I’ll be presenting on my project examining Eurasian perch niche use in lakes that become seasonally hypoxic at the International Association of Great Lakes Research (IAGLR) annual meeting in Detroit on May 18 at 1:20 pm. Come check it out if you can, or contact me and I’ll send you my slides.
One of the projects I worked on during my Master’s at Purdue was featured on The Fisheries Blog this week. We examined if the gelatinous skein around yellow perch eggs might protect them from two different types of predators: crayfish and round gobies.
Neither predator was very successful in consuming the eggs and both preferred the other egg types offered. Crayfish struggled to get yellow perch eggs out of the skein and gobies immediately spat them out. In addition to feeding trials, we also perform some preliminary molecular analyses on the composition of the skein itself. We identified a few compounds that may make the skein distasteful to predators, but further work is needed to fully examine which compound or combination of compounds actually provide protection.
I worked with an undergrad intern to conduct these experiments and we recently published in Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. Check out the full article here.
Welcome to my professional website! I have links to summaries of my current and past projects in the menu above, but I’ll also be adding updates along the way on this main page. Feel free to contact me with any questions you have – my contact information is at the bottom of the page.