Looking for talented and motivated post-doctoral researcher – apply by April 27th:

Aquatic Ecology: Closing date: April 27th, 2018. Start date: by July 1st if possible. Salary: $46-48K/annually, plus benefits. The Stream and River Ecology Laboratory (u.osu.edu/strive/) at The Ohio State University is seeking a Post-Doctoral Research Associate to contribute to an EPA-STAR-funded project on harmful algal blooms in the upper Ohio River Basin. The incumbent will be expected to contribute to studies of the ecological impacts of nutrient enrichment in streams, rivers, and reservoirs (from individuals to food webs to ecosystem functions), including field, experimental (e.g., mesocosms), and lab work. In addition, the incumbent will be expected to assist with the analysis of data as well as the preparation of reports, articles, and associated project deliverables. In addition to contributing to the project described above, the incumbent will be expected to pursue additional, complementary research. The incumbent will be based at the Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park (u.osu.edu/orwrpramsar/) and will be mentored by Dr. Mažeika Sullivan, with opportunities to work with project co-PIs Dr. Lauren Pintor and Dr. Kaiguang Zhao. Strong statistical and programming skills, preferably with R, are required. Interest in teaching within the Aquatic Sciences curriculum is highly desirable. Applicants must have completed and defended their Ph.D. by the start of the appointment. Interested applicants should submit the following: (1) Cover letter, C.V., and the names and contact information for three references; (2) Unofficial transcripts; and (3) Examples of published work. Funding is available for two years. For more information or to apply, contact Dr. Sullivan @ sullivan.191@osu.edu.

Newly-funded Project Investigates HABs in the Upper Ohio River Basin

We’re eager to get started on a newly funded, 3-year, ~$700K grant by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program. Our project focuses on nutrient enrichment and harmful algal blooms (HABs) in Ohio River catchments of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, with a particular focus on non-agricultural freshwaters. This research is in collaboration with Drs. Lauren Pintor and Kai Zhao.

Specifically, we propose to develop a watershed classification system to diagnose and manage harmful algal blooms (HABs) in the upper Ohio River basin. The goal is a multi-scale, hierarchical tool that links climate and land-use with river physicochemical gradients and ecological condition to predict and prevent HABs. The resulting classification system will be presented in a framework that can be used by managers as a regular part of watershed planning and risk assessment efforts to prevent and predict HABs. This management tool represents a novel application of theoretical knowledge of hierarchical processes in watersheds and an innovative approach to predicting and managing HABs.

Conceptual model of relationships to be tested and used to develop multi-scale, hierarchical management tool.

CDC Funds Research on Antibiotic-resistant Bacteria in Rivers

We’re excited to collaborate with project leads Dr. Tom Wittum (OSU Vet Preventative Med) and Dr. Jiyoung Lee (OSU Environmental Health Sciences) on CDC-funded research investigating sources and fates of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in rivers.

In particular, our focus in on carbapenem drugs, which are often the antimicrobial therapy of choice to treat life-threatening invasive gram negative infections. The emergence of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) represents a critically important threat to public health. CRE are known to emerge in healthcare settings in response to frequent antimicrobial use and disseminate through environments that provide appropriate selection pressure. Our working hypothesis is that waste from metropolitan medical centers regularly transports CRE to wastewater treatment plants where they are maintained and ultimately discharged into surface waters, which may then serve as a reservoir for widespread dissemination of these highly resistant organisms. Study systems include the Scioto and Olentangy Rivers of central and southern Ohio.

Katherine Harris Receives SENR Honors and Undergrad Research Award

The School of Environment & Natural Resources, Honors and Undergraduate Research Program has awarded Katherine Harris funding to support her undergraduate research project. Congrats Kate!

Kate, a member of the Stream and River Ecology (STRIVE) lab and undergraduate student majoring in Environmental Science, is studying stress responses of a common stream fish – Creek Chub (Semotilus atromachulatus; see photo below, by Brian Gratwicke) – to temperature variability of urban streams. Kate will be housing fish and running her experiment in aquatic habitat tanks (see below) in the STRIVE Wetlab at the Olentangy River Wetland Research Park.

Congrats to Bobby Davis, MSc!

Congrats to Bobby Davis, who recently defended and submitted his MSc thesis: Monitoring fish-community contaminant body burdens following lowhead dam removal in an urban river system. Bobby is now located in Washington, D.C., where he has started his new position with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in the aquaculture division of the food team, where he’ll be working on markets-based incentives programs to minimize the environmental impacts of aquaculture operations. Best of luck!

SENR Welcomes Dr. Caryn Vaughn as Fall Seminar Speaker

We’re thrilled to host Dr. Caryn Vaughn, Presidential Professor of Biology and George Lynn Cross Research Professor at the University of Oklahoma.  Dr. Vaughn will be speaking this afternoon as part of our SENR Seminar Series. The title of her talk is: “Consumer Aggregations Act as Hotspots of Ecosystem Services in Rivers”. See announcement here: vaughn-flyer-2

Welcome Dr. Vaughn!

American Alligator in Olentangy River!

There was an American alligator sighted in the Olentangy River on campus yesterday (08/23) and again this morning (08/24). USDA has been notified and the alligator has now been captured (37″, 80 lbs) and will be sent to a sanctuary in South Carolina.
.gator image2 image3
 Photo credits: Kristen Diesburg and Anthony Ignozzi

Contaminant export from rivers regulated by riparian land cover and urban pollution

Check out our new article:

Alberts, J.M., and S.M.P. Sullivan. 2016. Factors influencing aquatic-to-terrestrial contaminant transport to terrestrial arthropod consumers in a mid-size river system. Environmental Pollution 213: 53-62

Research highlights:

  • River contamination decreased with downstream longitudinal distance from a large urban center (see Figure below).
  • Recipient consumer dynamics were influenced by riparian habitat complexity.
  • Contaminant flux via emergent insects was not a strong predictor of terrestrial arthropod body burdens.
  • Terrestrial consumer body burdens were best predicted by riparian land cover.
  • Riparian land cover regulated aquatic-to-terrestrial contaminant transport.

Figure 3b_Alberts and Sullivan_2016_STOTEN



Congrats to Alayna Dorobek on successful MS defense!

Alayna successfully defended her MS thesis, “Short-term consequences of lowhead-dam removal for fish community dynamics in an urban river system” last Wed. May 4th and submitted her approved thesis this Tuesday.  Alayna will be presenting some of her results at the upcoming Society for Freshwater Science meeting in Sacramento later this month. Nice job Alayna and best of luck in your next adventure!


Alayna Defense Semimar

River Primary Producers Fuel Terrestrial Food Webs

New STRIVE findings published in Ecology show the importance of aquatic primary producers to terrestrial food webs. Of the primary producers, phytoplankton (19%) provided the greatest nutritional contribution to terrestrial consumers (including riparian beetles, spiders, damselflies, swallows, and raccoons), followed by periphyton (14%) and macrophytes (11%). Read below for more info:

Kautza, A., and S.M.P. Sullivan. 2016. The energetic contributions of aquatic primary producers to terrestrial food webs in a mid-size river system. Ecology. doi: 10.1890/15-1095

Abstract: Rivers are increasingly recognized as providing nutritional subsidies (i.e., energy and nutrients) to adjacent terrestrial food webs via depredation of aquatic organisms (e.g., emergent aquatic insects, crayfish, fish) by terrestrial consumers. However, because these prey organisms assimilate energy from both aquatic (e.g., benthic algae, phytoplankton, aquatic macrophytes) and terrestrial (e.g., riparian leaf detritus) primary producers, river subsidies to terrestrial consumers represent a combination of aquatically- and terrestrially-derived energy. To date, the explicit contribution of energy derived from aquatic primary producers to terrestrial consumers has not been fully explored yet might be expected to be quantitatively important to terrestrial food webs. At 12 reaches along a 185-km segment of the 6th-order Scioto River system (Ohio, USA), we quantified the relative contribution of energy derived from aquatic primary producers to a suite of terrestrial riparian consumers that integrate the adjacent landscape across multiple spatial scales through their foraging activities (tetragnathid spiders, rove beetles, adult coenagrionid damselflies, riparian swallows, and raccoons). We used naturally-abundant stable isotopes (13C and 15N) of periphyton, phytoplankton, macrophytes, and terrestrial vegetation to evaluate the energetic contribution of aquatic primary producers to terrestrial food webs. Shoreline tetragnathid spiders were most reliant on aquatic primary producers (50%), followed by wider-ranging raccoons (48%), damselflies (44%), and riparian swallows (41%). Of the primary producers, phytoplankton (19%) provisioned the greatest nutritional contribution to terrestrial consumers (considered collectively), followed by periphyton (14%) and macrophytes (11%). Our findings provide empirical evidence that aquatic primary producers of large streams and rivers can be a critical nutritional resource for terrestrial food webs. We also show that aquatically-derived nutrition contributes to both shoreline and broader-ranging terrestrial consumers and thus may be an important landscape-scale energetic linkage between rivers and upland habitats.


Kautza and Sulivan_Fig 1_Ecology_2016        Kautza and Sullivan_Fig 3_Ecology_2016_