STRIVE Lab and GrayFishLab Recruiting Post-doc, Grad Students for ALAN Research

With new funding from the Ohio Department of Transportation, we’re looking for a motivated post-doc, as well as MSc, and PhD students to join our research groups. See below for details! Post-docs applicants apply by Jan. 04, 2019; Grad Student applicants apply by Jan. 01, 2019.

Aquatic Ecology – Artificial Lighting at Night: Closing date: Jan. 04, 2019. Start date: by March 1st if possible. Salary: $48-50K/annually, plus benefits. The Stream and River Ecology Laboratory at The Ohio State University is seeking a Post-Doctoral Research Associate. The incumbent will be expected to contribute to research on the ecological effects of artificial lighting at night (ALAN) in aquatic and riparian ecosystems (from individuals to ecosystems), including field, experimental (e.g., mesocosms), and lab work. In addition, the s/he will be expected to assist with the analysis of data as well as the preparation of reports, articles, and associated project deliverables. The incumbent will be based at the Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park and will be mentored by Dr. Mažeika Sullivan, with opportunities to work with project co-PI Dr. Suzanne Gray. Strong statistical and programming skills, preferably with R, are required. Interest in gaining teaching experience 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 @

PhD position – ALAN 2018-final-ssfr2f

Also check out our previous and current work on ALAN under Projects.

Navigating boundaries after dam removal

The theme for the 2018 Society for Freshwater Science meeting in Detroit, MI was “navigating boundaries in freshwater science”. A strong contingent of STRIVE lab members presented research that fit well within this theme, ranging from nutrient dynamics in linked reservoir-stream systems (K. Stefanik, R. Czaja), ecological networks (T. Kenly), upstream-downstream connections driven by aquatic insect drift (L. Rieck), urbanization effects on fish (L. Bajakian), cross-boundary effects of invasive species (K. Diesburg), and water quality and aerial insectivorous birds (J. Corra, D. Manning). Congrats to all for a successful and productive meeting! Check out the STRIVE lab twitter feed for action photos and more!

Speaking of navigating boundaries – we are continuing to learn more about the 5th Ave dam removal and how the Olentangy River ecosystem is responding to the removal of this conspicuous upstream-downstream boundary. Our work (and several other dam-removal studies) has previously focused on the importance of restoring upstream-downstream connections within the stream channel (see our blog post from last year, as well as recent article by Cook and Sullivan, below). But, we wanted to know more about how removing the dam could have effects that cross from the river to the riparian zones directly adjacent to the stream channel. To figure this out, we measured a few key responses: one was the number and biomass of aquatic insects that emerged from the river, and another was the spiders and birds (tree swallows) that live near the river and rely on aquatic insects for food. We also measured the chemical signatures (stable isotopes) of the algae and detritus in the river, the emergent insects, and spiders and swallows; these signatures allowed us to piece together the diets of spiders and swallows to understand how much of their food comes from the river, vs. terrestrial sources.

An orb-weaving spider of the family Tetragnathidae. These spiders often live in the margins of rivers, eating emerging aquatic insects. After dam removal, we observed a nearly 10-fold decline in their densities adjacent to the river. Photo: A. Kautza

So what happened to the river after dam removal that crossed aquatic-terrestrial boundaries? Well, mostly we found that the contraction of the river channel, and loss of vegetation at the edge of the river channel was bad news for the spiders (pictured left) – we saw close to a 10-fold decline in spider densities after the dam was removed, particularly where there was extensive floodplain restoration (pictured below).

The other responses we measured were less clear. By and large, spider and swallow diets were unchanged post-dam removal, and the variation we did observe was explained more by regional factors like annual temperatures, precipitation, and the river’s discharge. Nevertheless, we think that navigating across boundaries in this way could be an important aspect of future dam-removal monitoring and restoration efforts, particularly for larger dam-removal projects that prompt drastic changes to river morphology, and functioning.

Looking upstream toward Lane Avenue during extensive riparian restoration of the Olentangy River a few months after dam removal. Photo: SMP Sullivan

For more information, you can read the paper (open access) online:

Sullivan, S. M. P., D. W. P. Manning, and R. P. Davis. 2018. Do the ecological effects of dam removal extend across the aquatic-terrestrial boundary? Ecosphere 9(4):e02180 DOI:10.1002/ecs2.2180.

On the topic of dam removal, also check out another recent paper (also open access) from STRIVE on the ecological effects of dam removal:

Cook, D.R., and S.M.P. Sullivan. 2018. Associations between riffle development and benthic macroinvertebrate and fish assemblages following lowhead dam removal. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 190: 339.


STRIVE Lab members place Wood Duck boxes as part of new monitoring project

With the winter months melting away, migratory waterfowl have begun to race north to secure their nesting habitat for the upcoming breeding season. The Olentangy and Scioto Rivers are important riparian corridors for waterfowl migration within the Mississippi Flyaway. STRIVE lab research assistant, Reina Tyl, has been busy building wood duck (Aix sponsa) boxes to place along the Olentangy and Scioto Rivers as part of the conservation of riparian birds research project. Wood ducks are cavity nesters, meaning that they naturally lay their eggs in hollowed out parts of trees. Where natural tree cavities are not available, wood ducks will nest in man-made boxes built to mimic natural tree cavities.


The wood ducks boxes, constructed from water softener tubes, are filled with an approximately 4″ deep layer of wood shavings to provide nesting material for the wood ducks. Wood ducks, unlike some other birds, do not construct nests or bring material into their nesting cavities.


STRIVE lab members (left to right) Travonya Kenly, Reina Tyl, and Lars Meyer secure a wood duck box to a post. The box opening is facing the Olentangy River, so that passing wood ducks will be able to take notice of the available nest habitat. The boxes are placed so that the openings will face east in order to reduce the amount of rain and wind that will be able to enter the boxes from the west.


STRIVE lab members (left to right) Lars Meyer, Reina Tyl, and Travonya Kenly are all smiles setting up a wood duck box across from the ‘Shoe!


Reina Tyl posing with a newly placed wood duck box in one of the wetlands at the Olentangy River Wetland Research Park.