Project Description: 

Organisms that live in intermittent streams (i.e., streams that dry for portions of the year) often have evolutionary adaptations to drought and drying. However, the relative importance of different strategies to deal with drought—and how they might change in different parts of a stream—remains largely untested. Our goal with this study is to develop a mechanistic understanding of how macroinvertebrate populations respond to seasonal drought by examining how habitat fragmentation (i.e., distance from persistent waters) mediates various reestablishment pathways. To that end, we implemented a dispersal experiment in Chalone Creek at Pinnacles National Park. We constructed a series of mesh traps that prevented recolonization via all pathways but one (i.e., storage effects, aerial dispersal, up/downstream dispersal) and placed them during the re-wetting period at sites of increasing longitudinal distance from a perennial water source. The results of this study will help to develop a greater understanding of how organisms respond to and persist through drought events. As anthropogenic climate change is likely to increase the frequency and severity of drought and drying events, a better understanding of how stream organisms respond to drought is a crucial component of our conservation and management efforts.

Undergraduate's Role: 

Students selected for this program will help to progress sample processing for the Pinnacles experiment. During this process, they will learn to sort and identify stream macroinvertebrates. Students will be responsible for maintaining and inputting data. Students might also have opportunities to take part in: field work, experimental design and construction, and statistical analysis according to their interests.

Undergraduate's Qualifications: 

Students selected for this project must be able to (or be willing to learn how to) use a microscope. Students must also possess a strong attention to detail.  Ideally, students will work well independently and in groups. Finally, students should have a desire to learn more about aquatic systems! 

On Campus
3-6 hours