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Research Projects

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Keep an alder, feed a salmon

Alder (a woody shrub) is able to fix atmospheric nitrogen. We believe it may help sustain productivity in small, salmon rearing streams on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. Unfortunately, many consider it a nuisance! At a landscape scale, we're using geospatial data sets to link alder, flow paths, and stream chemistry. In summer 2013, we'll be performing whole stream nitrogen enrichments to link N to stream production.


Physiographic classification of Austin streams for bioasessment

We are working with the City of Austin to develop a physiographic classification system based on coarse and fine scale topographic and geologic differences in the region. The goal is to assign stream segments to appropriate physiographic groupings to reduce natural variability in bioassessment indices.

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Cumulative effects of mountaintop removal mining on stream ecosystems in Appalachia

We are collaborating with Emily Bernhardt's lab at Duke to study the effects of alkaline mine drainage associated with mountaintop removal mining. This type of mining results in highly elevated dissolved solids, particularly sulfate, and sharp declines in stream biodiversity at low levels of mining.

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Baylor Experimental Aquatic Research (BEAR)

The BEAR facility provides an unparalleled venue for experimentally manipulating nutrients and other important covariates (discharge, sediment, grazing fish, etc) in streams. We've completed 4 studies to date, with nanoparticle (King/Matson) and atrazine (King/Brooks/Chambliss) studies on the horizon.

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Environmental implications of nanoparticles in aquatic ecosystems

We are collaborating with Cole Matson (Baylor), Emily Bernhardt, and Curt Richardson (Duke) on a 5-year NSF study on effects of nanoparticles on aquatic ecosystem structure and functioning using Duke's wetland mesocosm facility.

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Wetland geomorphic linkages to juvenile salmonid habitat in headwater streams, Alaska

A collaboration with the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve (Coowe Walker) and the Smithsonian Institution (Dennis Whigham), we have developed a spatial model using satellite imagery and LIDAR elevation data to predict juvenile salmon abundance in small, headwater streams of the famous Kenai Peninsula.

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Ecological thresholds: theory and methods

Matt Baker (University of Maryland, Baltimore Co.) and King have made some methodological advances in the arena of ecological thresholds. In early 2010, we introduced TITAN (Threshold Indicator Taxa Analysis) as a new approach to detecting and interpreting synchronous declines in multiple species along environmental gradient. TITAN is currently being used by several states in support of developing numerical water quality criteria. Refinements and extensions of our approach are in the works.

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Impacts of dams and altered hydrology on historical fish distributions and population genetics

Pat Danley's lab is collobarating with us to study how the loss of connectivity and altered hydrological regimes in Texas stream networks has altered fish population genetics and community structure.

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Linking observational and experimental approaches for the development of regional nutrient criteria in wadeable streams.

We have successfully coupled field observations with experimental streams to identify a phosphorus threshold for streams in central Texas. Our first study has garnered national attention from the US EPA, and in the process of assisting states in developing defensible nutrient criteria. We are still very active in this area of research.

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Refinement and validation of habitat quality and fish biological integrity indices for Texas streams

Texas A&M (Kirk Winemiller's lab) and Baylor have teamed up to identify the dominant environmental factors controlling fish community structure in an effort to develop better biological assessment tools.