Current research projects
Conservation genomics of imperiled freshwater mussels
In collaboration with Dr. Christian Cox of FIU and biologists from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, we are using next-generation sequencing to explore genome-wide SNP variation within and among wild and captive populations of eight high-priority mussel species in the mid-Atlantic region (Dwarf wedgemussel, Atlantic pigtoe, Tennessee clubshell, James spinymussel, Tar spinymussel, Yellow lance, Appalachian elktoe, and Brook floater). In addition to increasing our understanding of the evolutionary dynamics of this fascinating group, results of our studies will help managers prioritize hatchery and relocation programs to maximize genetic diversity.
River-floodplain hydrology and fisheries ecology in the Georgia coastal plain
We are developing a long-term research initiative to investigate how land use, water abstraction, and climate change affect the hydrology of river-floodplain ecosystems in the Atlantic Coastal Plain (ACP) region of Georgia, and the implications of these hydrologic changes for fish ecology and fisheries productivity. We are using new and existing datasets to develop and test ecohydrological hypotheses, measure the demographic and community responses of fishes to dynamic flow conditions, and ultimately recommend strategies for water and fisheries management.
Landscape and conservation genomics of endangered reticulated flatwoods salamanders
The federally endangered reticulated flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma bishopi) is restricted to a small, declining number of breeding populations on the Florida panhandle. Management of the species is hampered by poor understanding of population structure and connectivity, population sizes, and life-history. Along with collaborators from Virginia Tech, LSU, the Longleaf Alliance, and a number of state and federal agencies, we are using a suite of population genomic techniques to explore rangewide neutral and adaptive diversity in this species.
Conservation and management of Roanoke bass
The Roanoke bass is one the rarest sportfishes in the eastern U.S., due to declining habitat quality and competition and hybridization with invasive Rock bass. In collaboration with Virginia Tech, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, we are working to 1) develop molecular and morphological models to discriminate these species and their hybrids, 2) characterize geographic patterns and mechanisms of invasion and hybridization, 3) develop eDNA tools to monitor the distribution of Ambloplites species, and 4) identify candidate rivers for introduction/reintroduction of Roanoke bass.
Monitoring of aquatic species using environmental DNA
Many native and invasive aquatic species are difficult to detect using traditional survey methods. The use of "environmental DNA" (eDNA) techniques, in which ambient water samples from a waterbody are screened for the DNA of a species of interest, hold promise for rapid, cost-effective detection of cryptic species. We are collaborating with Virginia Tech, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and other GSU faculty to develop and test eDNA techniques in various species, including Roanoke logperch, Clinch dace, Tennessee dace, blackside dace, Roanoke bass, Rock bass, and white shrimp.
Ecology, evolution, and management of endangered Roanoke logperch
The Roanoke logperch (Percina rex) is an endangered percid fish restricted to silt-free streams in the Roanoke and Chowan river basins of Virginia and North Carolina. In collaboration with Dr. Paul Angermeier of Virginia Tech and biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, VA Department of Wildlife Resources, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, we are conducting various studies on the ecology and evolution of the species, including 1) population viability analysis, 2) development of eDNA-based monitoring tools, 3) modeling relations between environmental variation and empirical population dynamics, and 4) experimental genetic restoration. These activities should enhance our basic understanding of and management effectiveness for the species.
Spawning dynamics of Robust redhorse in Georgia rivers
The Robust redhorse (Moxostoma robustum) is a large sucker that was "lost to science" and presumed extinct following its description in 1870, but rediscovered by GADNR biologists in the 1990s. The species currently is threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation. Recovery of the species depends on good estimates of the abundance of spawning adults, which congregate on shoals of large rivers in the spring, but unbiased estimates can be difficult to obtain in the turbulent, often turbid rivers where redhorse live. In collaboration with the Georgia DNR and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, we are developing and refining methods for surveying these cryptic creatures, and using these methods to track the status of the species over time. Read more about the species.