General research interests: Research in the Fish Ecology Lab focuses on the conservation of aquatic systems in the western and central U.S. Current and past projects can be classified into three general areas: 1) effects of global change on diversity-ecosystem function relationships in streams, 2) evaluation of patterns and processes regulating species diversity and habitat associations of fishes in streams and reservoirs, and 3) dynamics of non-coevolved fish assemblages.
Post Doctoral Associates and Graduate Students
My dissertation research focuses on evaluating how fish movement and riverscape dynamics affect prairie stream community structure and ecosystem properties. Current objectives are to evaluate (1) density-dependent interactions of prairie stream fish (2) priority effects and dominance hierarchies (if they occur, and how important are they) and 3) the influence of the environment on the fish community as well as the influence the fish have on their environment. My general interests include anthropogenic disturbances, metacommunity ecology, and conservation biology. Erika's webpage
My research quantifies the movement of native and nonnative species in the San Juan River basin of Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. Native fishes studied include, but are not limited to, bluehead sucker, flannelmouth sucker, and roundtail chub. Currently, my approach will utilize two primary tools: 1) GIS to identify species distribution among habitats in the San Juan basin based on historical and contemporary fish data and 2) PIT tag studies to track movement rates of native fishes within and between habitats.
The flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) is now common in the Gila River and this voracious predator is known to consume native fishes. Understanding flathead catfish movement patterns in this desert stream can inform the conservation of native species such as the federally endangered Spikedace (Meda fulgida) and Loach minnow (Tiaroga cobitis). My objective is to characterize seasonal movement of flathead catfish throughout the upper Gila River basin. I will evaluate movement at different temporal scales (hourly, daily and seasonal) and relate movement to body size. This will be done by implanting radio transmitters into fish and tracking individuals throughout the year.
Fish passage is critically important for imperiled small-bodied pelagic-spawning cyprinids (family Cyprinidae) occurring in Kansas. For example, the plains minnow (Hybognathus placitus), silver chub (Macrhybopsis storerina) and peppered chub (Macrhybopsis tetranema) are three species that have precipitously declined in distribution throughout the Great Plains since the 1960s. All three species historically persisted within portions of the Arkansas River, however, their current distribution is limited to below the Lincoln Street Bridge, and several droughts over the past decade appear to have eliminated (plains minnow) or reduced them to very low levels. The purpose of my study is to extending current understanding of how effective the recently-constructed Lincoln Street Fishway is for passing various native fish species.
Janine Rueegg, Post doc 2012 - 2014. Scale, Consumers And Lotic Ecosystem Rates (SCALER). Current position: in limbo.
James Whitney, MS 2010, PhD 2014. Spatiotemporal response of aquatic native and nonnative taxa to wildfire disturbance in a desert stream network. Current position: Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Missouri.
Matthew Troia, PhD 2014. A mechanistic framework for understanding prairie stream fish distributions. Current position: Postdoctoral Research Associate, Oakridge National Laboratory.
Joshuah Perkin, PhD 2012. Fragmentation in stream networks quantification, consequences, and implications to decline of native fish fauna, Current position: Assistant Professor, Tennessee Tech University.
David Hoeinghaus, Post doc 2007 – 2009. Life-history traits predict conservation status of fishes in Great Plains. Current position: Assistant Professor, University of North Texas
Tyler Pilger, MS 2009 (Trophic relations in the upper Gila River, New Mexico). Current Positio: PhD Student, University of New Mexico
Michelle Evans-White, Post doc 2006-2007. Forecasting ecological change in aquatic systems in the Great Plains. Current position: Associate Professor, University of Arkansas
Katie Bertrand, PhD 2007. Interactive effects of disturbance regime and species composition on ecosystem function of prairie streams. Current position: Associate Professor, South Dakota State University
Darren Thornbrugh, MS 2008. Fish assemblage structure in adventitious streams. Current position: PhD student, Michigan State University.
Nate Franssen, MS 2007. Trophic relations of the Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius) in the San Juan River, New Mexico and Utah. Current position: Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of New Mexico.
Tim Strakosh, PhD 2006. The effects of water willow establishment on littoral community composition: with focus on age-0 centrarchids in Kansas reservoirs. Current position: US Fish and Wildlife Service, Green Bay Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office.
Layne Knight, MS 2004. Effects of largemouth bass predation on native stream minnows: implications for conservation of the endangered Topeka shiner. Current position: Biologist, Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Jeff Falke, MS 2004. Upstream effects of large reservoirs on native stream fishes. Current position: Assistant Leader - Fisheries, U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
The experimental stream facility on Konza Prairie Biological Station provide a venue to manipulate stream biodiversity, nutrients, substrates, and many other aspects of streams. These manipulations can be used to test mechanistic hypotheses of main drivers of stream community structure and ecosystem function.
Desert Sucker (Pantosteus clarki) Gila River, NM