Levon B. defends honor’s thesis on effects of urban stream temperatures on stream fish

After a couple years of hard field and lab work, STRIVE undergrad Levon Bajakian presented his honor’s research on the influences of urban stream temperatures on stream fish. Levon ran two lab trials to quantify the effects of both temperature variability (Trial 1) and consistently elevated temperatures (Trial 2) on Creek Chub, a common stream fish.

Creek Chub (Semotilus atromaculatus)
Photo: Brian Zimmerman

What did he find:
Creek Chub in the Trial 1 treatment group gained more weight and had lower blood plasma glucose concentrations (used as a measure of stress) than the control group, while Creek Chub in the Trial 2 treatment group showed no significant difference in weight compared to the control treatment, but the treatment group had significantly higher blood glucose concentrations. A stress response in a tolerant species like Creek Chub could potentially translate to severe impacts for more sensitive fish species as even minor increases in chronic stress caused by heat or other factors can have substantial consequences for wild fish. Altered temperature regimes are also likely to interact with other urban stressors on streams (e.g., pollution, altered hydrology and stream geomorphology, etc.), and will be an important area of future research.

Levon’s research complements ongoing research on the effects of urbanization on stream and wetland ecosystems. Here, Levon is working in the field filtering water samples, along with a little help from mi hijita Adela Lucía!

Levon shared a few thoughts on his research experience:
Completing my honors thesis has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my undergraduate career. I believe my time with Dr. Sullivan and the rest of STRIVE lab has helped me grow and develop both as a student and as a person, and I feel more prepared for life after graduation as a result. Needless to say, I am incredibly grateful to have been granted the opportunity to conduct research and explore my interests regarding urban stream temperatures and fish, and I would certainly recommend considering research to anyone else who might be interested!

Levon – thanks for all your great work and contributions to our research! Congrats on an excellent presentation, thesis, and your upcoming graduation. We all look forward to seeing where your talents take you in the coming years.

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