Super fun and productive visit to NGRREC by Dr Claire Gwinnett, an Associate Professor at Staffordshire University in the UK. Claire works within forensic science, particularly the analysis of trace evidence such as plastic fibres. Claire gave some very useful advise to our interns about methods for processing microplastics, and a fantastic seminar. Look forward to working with Claire and her group going forward!
Our current NGRREC intern Nick Wells is undertaking his second (yes second!) experiment during his NGRREC summer internship. Nicks experiment is exploring if microplastics move from the environment (sediment) to deposit feeders (chironomid larvae) to predators (dragonfly larvae).
Nick Wells (current NGRREC intern) ran a short experiment to see how well he could retrieve a known amount of plastics from sediment and insect samples. Thankfully - it turns out quite a bit! Bodes well for Nicks next experiment on microplastics in river food chains…
Britt and Tony just back from a fun and productive week with Dr John Delong at the University of Nebraska’s Cedar Point Biological Station in north-eastern Nebraska. We are working with John and his lab on the behavioral underpinnings of interference competition in wolf spiders. This was our second trip to Cedar Point, which we plan to be an annual adventure. Looking forward to seeing what the tracking results show!
Spent the morning on the Mississippi River sampling for microplastics, both in the main water column and sediment.
Just back from a great few days with Dr Andrew Berdahl (collective behavior) and Dr. Jeff Kerby (drone scientist extraordinaire) at The Nature Conservancy's Dunn Ranch Prarie in North-Western Missouri. Dunn Ranch is home to about 200 bison that roam around a restored section of the Central Tallgrass Prairie Ecoregion. We are using emerging drone technology and the unique ecosystem of Dunn Ranch to explore the collective movement of bison across the ranch, and its dependence on spatio-temporal patterns in vegetation and management practices.
Welcome to the lab Nick Wells, our NGRREC summer intern who will be researching plastic pollution in river ecosystems.
Just arrived back from our National Geographic funded expedition to Moorea, French Polynesia. Almost three weeks of research with postdoc John Grady and phd student Ash Olson. Using the marine and terrestrial ecosystems of Moorea (arguably the best studied ecosystems on Earth) we used remote video to quantify the behavior, movement, and interactions of a diverse range of terrestrial and marine species. This work represents what we think is the first ever effort to quantify how animals, from tiny invertebrates to large vertebrates, move, behave and interact both within and across ecosystems. Thanks to the Gump staff for hosting, and to National Geographic for funding!
Britt is new staff in the lab, and comes to us from the University of Arkansas where she was postdoc-ing. As well as helping to oversee the smooth running of our lab (and the lab of Dr. John Crawford), Britt will be conducting her own research, which explores how population and community structure interact with the environment to affect dispersal. Britt combines theory from animal behavior and population biology with experiments, field studies, and robust quantitative approaches to mechanistically understand the process of dispersal and predict the resulting patterns of population dynamics and gene flow. Her research primarily focuses on amphibians and damselflies (Hexapoda: Zygoptera), two groups of animals found throughout many aquatic ecosystems.
Goodbye Dr Carl Cloyed, who is leaving the lab for a new postdoc position at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab.
Just finished a fun few days with John Delong visiting the lab and talking science. John gave a great talk about the eco-evolutionary dynamics and evolution of body size, and we touched base about our ongoing collaboration on the behavioral underpinnings of interference competition in wolf spiders and its role in maintaining species diversity. Always great to see Jono!
Fun and productive meeting at the BiodiverseCity Regional Vision Mapping Session today, with the goal of "aggregating existing data on biodiversity across the bi-state region, building science-driven consensus on what constitutes an inventory and state of biodiversity in our region, and collectively envisioning priorities and opportunities for biodiversity conservation or restoration". Thanks to the BiodiverseCitySTL team, the OneSTL Sustainability Plan team, and colleagues from the East-West Gateway Council of Governments for organsing.
A cold day on the Mississippi River today with Miles Corcoran and Jen Vance - we were checking out potential sample sites for our microplastic project that will begin summer this year. Stay tuned!
Great to talk with science with Ty Tuff (Wash U of St Louis) today. Ty does awesome work at the interface of physics and ecology/evolution, and gave an enthralling seminar about relative motion as an ecological mechanism.
Great to chat with Tom Anderson (U of Kansas) today, and listen to his seminar about how species interactions are influenced by the context in which they occur, such as variation in local biotic and abiotic factors, and about how divergent outcomes can occur depending on the initial conditions.
Applications due 23rd January.
I have a paid undergraduate intern position avaliable in my lab this summer - on a project using automated behavioral phenotyping to explore how environment influences the behavior of aquatic invertebrates. Using state-of-the-art experimental methods, the student will conduct laboratory experiments to test how temperature, light, turbidity, micro plastics, and/or pH influence the movement of aquatic invertebrates inhabiting wetlands, many of which play important roles in ecosystems. To apply students will need to submit a general application here, and will need to list my project as their preferred option (PROJECT #4 Using automated behavioral phenotyping to explore how environmental drivers influence the behavior of aquatic invertebrates, with implications for wetland conservation) . More details about the program can be found here, or you can email me directly here.
A new paper of ours describes the role of host transient movement in the dynamics of disease spread - led by ex-postdoc Dave Daversa. We propose a conceptual framework that explicitly considers infection dynamics during transient phases of host movement to better predict infection spread through spatial host networks. You can find a pdf of this paper on our PUBLICATIONS page.
Tony gave a seminar today at Saint Louis University (SLU) today on "The body size and temperature dependence of animal movement and some consequence for trophic interactions".