Current Research (selected)
Hydrologic alteration and geomorphic instability in the Illinois River Watershed and potential impacts on mussel SGCN and associated fish communities
The Illinois River Watershed (IRW) has undergone significant alteration due to recent land use and land cover (LULC) changes associated with rapid urbanization in Northwest Arkansas. We propose to (1) quantify and assess the influence of impervious surface area and other natural and anthropogenic land use factors on hydrologic alteration and geomorphic instability of gaged and ungaged streams in the IRW; (2) evaluate the influence of hydrologic alteration and LULC change on the spatial distribution of mussel SGCN (Table 1) and associated fish communities in the IRW using state aquatic GAP species location data and museum collection records; and (3) communicate findings to the public through stakeholder workshops, government forums, and an online data portal.
Effect of current and future climate on Endangered Yellowcheek Darter (Etheostoma moorei) growth, survival and refuge use
Yellowcheek Darter (Etheostoma moorei) is a fish endemic to the Little Red River watershed in Arkansas. As a result of threats, geographic isolation and declining abundance, the species was listed as endangered in 2011. Populations have declined, in part, due to intense seasonal stream drying and inundation of lower stream reaches. It is hypothesized that in headwater streams where periodic drying is common, habitat selection influences Yellowcheek Darter distribution and abundance. Seasonal drought is typical in this region, and as drying occurs, individuals must move from riffles into neighboring pools, move into the hyporheic zone, migrate large distances to a persistent riffle, or perish. It is well-established that other darter species take refuge in pools during riffle drying. However, Yellowcheek Darter has only been collected in riffles, and hence has been identified as an obligate riffle-dweller. We seek to determine the patterns of Yellowcheek Darter refuge selection and how this may effect bioenergetics and population dynamics. Additionally, we propose to examine effects of current and future climate on Yellowcheek Darter population dynamics. This information will help conserve this endangered species. Our approach could also be readily transferable to other aquatic species in the Southeast Region and nationally.