I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I received an NSF post doctoral fellowship! I will be joining the wonderful lab of Dr. Art Woods at the University of Montana in Missoula early in 2019. Art is a fantastic eco-physiologist and together we will be working on discovering how micro-sclae temperature affects an important little sedentary ecotherm - the leafminer. These moth larvae can wreak havoc on aspen trees in the Rocky Mountains, so understanding their thermal physiology will be beneficial to the management of their populations.
The magnificent Grand Tetons viewed from Yellowstone Lake
I am incredibly excited to join a team of wonderful scientists studying the thermal tolerance of vulnerable, endemic stoneflies only found in glacial meltwater high up in the Grand Teton of Wyoming. The lead PI is Scott Hotaling, who is trying to establish these delicate glacial ecosystems as long-term ecological monitoring sites so that they can be monitored and protected.
I'm excited to have been selected as one of 7 contestants for the Ray Huey Award for best student talk. My talk is the first in the line up, so I will be kicking off the session (yikes)! Come check out my talk on Jan 4th at 8:00AM. I will be sharing the results of part of my DDIG experiments that were conducted over the past several months. Here is my talk abstract.
Collecting insects from Killpecker Creek, a high elevation stream in Colorado (photo: J. Havird)
We have a new paper out in ICB dealing with acclimation of temperate and tropical aquatic insects. We found, as predicted, tropical mayflies were worse at acclimating than their temperate counterparts. But we found no difference between temperate and tropical stoneflies! Our paper was also featured on the ICB blog - check it out!
Scott in the USGS environmental chamber, adjusting mesocosms on the shelf.
This summer my field assistant, Scott Morton, and I began experiments looking at how temperature mediates predator-prey and competitive interactions in aquatic insects. This work is part of the Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant proposal that we were awarded this year. We are collaborating with David Walters at the USGS in Fort Collins for this project. We are now in Ecuador, continuing our experiments in tropical aquatic insect communities. We hope this work sheds more light on elevation range limits of temperate and tropical aquatic insects! Stay tuned for results!
We found that tropical aquatic insects have narrower thermal breadths than their temperate counterparts. Our findings also suggest that lowland tropical insects may be the most vulnerable to climate change compared to other populations. Take a look at the summary on the Functional Ecology website. Reprints provided upon request.
Eva collecting insects from Guango, a mid-elevation stream in Ecuador
My fantastic field and lab tech Eva Bacmeister, won first place for her awesome talk on climate variability and swimming performance at the Front Range Student Ecology Symposium held at CSU in February. Eva completed an independent study exploring the effects of temperature on swimming performance in tropical and temperate aquatic insects . She found that tropical insects not only exhibit maximum performance over a narrower range of temperatures than temperate insects, but that they also have greater mortality at extreme (especially high) temperatures. Excellent work, Eva!!
Perlodid stonefly preying on baetid mayfly (photo: BugGuide.net)
Thank you to NSF for recommending my doctoral dissertation improvement grant (DDIG) proposal for funding. I will be exploring the combined effects of temperature and species interactions (i.e. predation and competition) on determining the range limits of aquatic insects from different climatic regimes. My hope is that this work deepens our understanding of local and global patterns of biodiversity.
Ben with a little boy who was captivated by his camera, in Ecuador
Ben Choat worked as my field technician in Colorado and Ecuador. His engineering expertise helped so much with troubleshooting our critical thermal minimum experimental set up. I'm happy to say that he is now a graduate student in CSU's engineering program. Ben will study efficient stormwater management with the hope of providing solutions to developing countries. We expect great things from you, Ben!