Welcome to new lab postdocs Travis Apgar & Robert Fournier!

We’re really excited to welcome two new postdocs in the lab: Drs. Travis Apgar & Robert Fournier. They will work on different aspects of our program at Pinnacles National Park, focused on the effects of seasonal and supraseasonal drying on stream invertebrate communities. Robert is joining us from the University of Arkansas, and Travis from UC Santa Cruz. Welcome to Berkeley!

Biodiversity benefits of restoring wetlands

Hi! I am Zhenhua Sun, visiting Ph.D. student in the lab. During my stay I have been gathering data on water quality and macroinvertebrate community composition in ponds and wetlands across the globe. Our study areas and collaborators span Argentina, Canada, France, Ireland, Norway, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, and the US!

In particular, we are asking whether natural, agricultural, and highway ponds differ in the contributions they make to landscape-scale biodiversity. In turn, this could in stormwater pond design, so that these elements of green infrastructure maximize ecosystem benefits.

Stay tuned for a forthcoming paper on the topic!

Updates – Sept & Oct 2019

More soon! 🙂

The lab is growing!

  • We welcome Jessie Moravek and Megan Pagliaro to the Ruhi Lab! Jessie is interested in studying the impacts of hydropower dams, and potential for mitigating them via reoperation and removal; and will be co-advised by Justin Brashares. Megan has been putting together an exciting research project on wetland restoration trajectories in the San Francisco Bay. Read more about them and their inspiring interests!
  • We also look forward to hosting Tadeu Siqueira, Brazilian sabbatical visitor who received a FAPESP grant to research metacommunity dynamics under environmental fluctuations; as well as Ph.D. student Zhenhua Sun, who is visiting this Fall from Sweden to study biodiversity benefits of stormwater ponds. Welcome all!

Busy Spring, exciting Summer

We got funding to study restoring wetlands!

The Ruhi Lab will receive funding from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, for the project ‘Reconnecting Delta food webs: evaluating the influence of tidal marsh restoration on energy flow and prey availability for native fishes’. This Fall we will start a 3-year project combining analyses of community composition, stable isotopes, and sensor time-series data, in collaboration with USGS and ICF, via State Water Contractors. More soon!

Modeling river-reservoir dynamics

I am Tongbi Tu, a new postdoc in the lab.  I am working on a SESYNC Pursuit to study causal pathways and feedbacks within complex water management systems. This project integrates ecology, hydrology, and water law. The interdisciplinary team is composed of Sankar Arumugam (NCSU), Xiaoli Dong (UC Davis), Caitlin Dyckman (Clemson Univ.), Ted Grantham (UC Berkeley), Lars Olson (Univ. of Maryland), Benjamin Ruddell (Northern Arizona Univ.), Nicola Ulibarri (UC Irvine), and Albert Ruhi (UC Berkeley).

In this working group we will apply physically-based and time-series models to investigate how reservoirs can help provide engineered resilience to socio-environmental systems–especially during periods of drought. We will use a variety of approaches to detect direct and indirect causal pathways and feedbacks between hydrologic conditions, human uses, and downstream ecological outcomes in the Lower Colorado River basin. A better understanding of the complex dynamics of water systems can help advance sustainable freshwater management–a critical need in the face of increasing competition for scarce freshwater resources.

Major dams and regional water supply in the Lower Colorado River Basin (map modified from U.S. Department of Interior)

Drought and invertebrate community change in Californian streams

Hi there! My name is Guillermo de Mendoza and I am a postdoctoral researcher in the lab. Together with David Herbst (UC Santa Cruz) we are studying how stream invertebrate communities are changing over time and across the state of California. We are using a dataset collected via the Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP). Our question concerns patterns of distance-decay of similarity–that is, dissimilarity in invertebrate communities across spatial and environmental distances.

DDS relationships are typically controlled by environmental gradients, dispersal barriers, and ecological drift. Here we are asking whether DDS can vary over time as well–in response to fluctuating hydrologic conditions. This research will show how drought influences spatial patterns of stream invertebrates (‘who is where’), and will help us further understand how freshwater biodiversity may respond to the multi-year droughts that characterize California’s hydroclimate.

Oct-Dec 2018 updates

  • Akira Terui, postdoc from the University of Minnesota, visited the lab in early November for an ongoing collaboration on the Moran effect.
  • Xavier Benito, SESYNC Postdoc Fellow, visited the lab in mid November to analyze diatom community time-series data.
  • Albert gave a seminar at UC Riverside (Evolution, Ecology, & Organismal Biology Colloquium)
  • We participated at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in Washington, D.C., with the presentation ‘Understanding the cumulative effects of dams on regional streamflow dynamics‘.