The overarching theme of my research is to complete studies that define basic biology and ecological relationships while also undertaking “actionable science” that managers and policy developers can use when making decisions important to the natural world. I try to focus my understanding of basic biology to develop novel conclusions about issues facing wild animals, mainly freshwater fishes.
1) Environmental Biology of Fishes—Environmental factors govern ecological and physiological processes in fish and therefore are important to define basic biology and population responses to change. To address this theme, I conduct laboratory- and field-based studies that connect environmental factors (e.g., temperature, dissolved oxygen, carbon dioxide) and physiological responses to freshwater fish ecology. I also assess environmental factors at a variety of scales (e.g., streams to watersheds, organisms to populations) and detail how populations differ in their responses to environmental change. A particular focus of my research, of late, has been to assessed the influence of dissolved carbon dioxide on animals. Similar to ocean acidification, high carbon dioxide in freshwater may negatively alter fish biology. Assessing questions related to environmental biology of fishes will help to define at a basic level what governs fish distribution, populations, and even freshwater communities.
2) Conservation physiology of fish—Studies associated with fish physiology in natural and impacted freshwater systems can help define conservation problems. Ecophysiology dictates how animal performance and condition may influence ecological processes and potentially dictate population outcomes and ultimately biodiversity. Knowing the ecological physiology of fish in response to conservation issues such as angling, climate change, and altered flow regimes can help to define mechanistically how conservation issues are manifested and can assist with management solutions. To assess conservation physiology questions, I have typically used field-based physiological technologies (e.g., temperature loggers, accelerometers, glucose meters, etc.) to determine the physiological condition of fish and to monitor energy-use, primarily in an attempt to predict survival and reproduction.
3) Movement Ecology—A central topic to my research is biotelemetry and I conduct field studies that monitor the movement of fish in natural settings. In the past, I have had success working with telemetry companies to field test novel applications of acoustic telemetry and have used these technologies to address basic biological questions in freshwater systems. Furthermore, I tend to link movement ecology to “conservation physiology”, described above, which allows me to define applied aquatic issues and provide novel insights to fish biology and management .