Meet our new Master’s Student – Victoria Drumm

My name is Victoria Drumm and I’m happy to introduce myself as the Gray Lab’s newest master’s student! I spent last semester familiarizing myself with the native fishes of Ohio in Dr. Gray’s Taxonomy and Behavior of Fishes class (highly recommend!), and am currently in the preparatory stages of my research exploring the impacts of intermittent artificial lighting at night (ALAN) on freshwater fishes.

Intermittent ALAN has attracted far less research attention than ALAN of continuous intensity, but represents the type of illumination emitted by passing road vehicles and other mobile light sources. This spring I’ll begin by studying how intermittent and continuous ALAN affect the foraging and antipredator behavior of Bluegill Sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus) in conjunction with the presence or absence of their predators: Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides). I hope to determine how different patterns of ALAN exposure act on the trade-off between foraging and predator avoidance to better understand, and ideally mitigate, the ecological impacts of ALAN produced by roadways. Later in the year, I’ll also be conducting a complementary field study assessing how different intensities and patterns of roadway ALAN alter fish assemblages in rural streams, where, in the absence of other major infrastructural development, roadways may be a particularly significant source of light pollution. Very excited to get started on all of this in the coming months, and to share more of my progress going forward. Watch this space!

Looking down a fish ladder

I arrived at OSU from Connecticut, where I spent several seasons as a field assistant with the Diadromous Inland Fisheries Program of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). This program seeks to monitor and restore diadromous fish species, and we most frequently worked with Alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus), American Shad (Alosa sapidissima), American Eel (Anguilla rostrata), Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar), and Sea Lamprey (Petromyzon marinus).



Glass (juvenile) American Eels

While a couple of those names may strike fear into the hearts of Midwesterners, in their native ranges these species have undergone population declines due to a number of anthropogenic factors, with in-stream barriers high on the list. My position with DEEP involved monitoring fish ladders at dams throughout the state, transplanting fish from plentiful “donor” runs into streams whose runs we’d like to improve, and much more! It was an amazing, challenging experience that took me to some absolutely beautiful places, and wholeheartedly confirmed my desire to pursue a career in fisheries conservation. Here are some photos of our charming focal species!



Alewives trapped overnight at a fish ladder (only kept at this density for a few minutes to facilitate netting)
Alewives being stocked out to bolster a struggling run









Sea Lamprey and American Shad (background)
Down-migrating Silver (sexually mature) American Eel