David Hoeinghaus, assistant professor of biological sciences, is working on several projects with collaborators in Brazil. He is investigating the dynamics of species distributions across floodplains and how this biodiversity affects the way aquatic ecosystems function in work with Angelo Agostinho and Luiz Gomes at Universidade Estadual de Maringá and the Upper Paraná River Floodplain Long Term Ecological Research Program. UNT graduate students Rich Pendleton, Jessica Treviño and Ana Hoeinghaus are involved in this research. Hoeinghaus also is working with Alexandre Garcia and colleagues at Universidade Federal de Rio Grande on spatial and temporal variability of the food webs of Lagoa do Peixe National Park and other estuarine systems along the southern Brazilian coast. Both projects are funded largely by collaborative grants from the Brazilian government.
Luke Driver, a Ph.D. student in Hoeinghaus’ research lab, is testing the ecological theory of metacommunity dynamics — the concept that both environmental and biological factors are important in determining the dynamics of an aquatic community. Driver is conducting research on the interacting roles of biological and environmental factors across spatial and temporal scales in Texas streams, testing the hypothesis that the presence or absence of certain types of predatory species can be just as important as environmental fluctuations on the population dynamics of fish in these streams. In addition to his field research, he is using Hoeinghaus’ newly constructed experimental stream facility to test the interactions of specific mechanisms such as drought, species interactions and dispersal on stream community structure and ecosystem function.
Threatened aquatic species
James Kennedy, Regents Professor of biological sciences, recently began a project, funded by Texas Parks and Wildlife in which he will examine the populations of the Quadrula aurea, also known as the Golden Orb mussel, in the Lower San Antonio and Guadalupe River drainage. The Golden Orb is thought to be a threatened species, but not much data has been collected on its population in Texas. Kennedy and his team began a census of the Golden Orb mussels last spring. They hope their data will paint a better picture of the habitat requirements for this mysterious aquatic species.
Water and culture
Irena Klaver, associate professor of philosophy and religion studies and founding director of the Philosophy of Water Project at UNT, is one of the co-editors of a new book examining the complex role of water in sustaining cultural diversity and diverse environments. Water, Cultural Diversity and Global Environmental Change: Emerging Trends, Sustainable Futures? (Springer) was produced as part of a water and cultural diversity project of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The book examines water not only as a fundamental human need, but also as a human right and a core element in biodiversity and cultural diversity. Klaver presented the book at the World Water Forum in Marseille in March.
Ruthanne “Rudi” Thompson oversees several projects related to environmental education including the city of Dallas’ Environmental Education Initiative. Thompson received a $1.7 million grant from the city in 2008 to run the program, a community outreach program for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. In the program’s research component, she and her team study the impact of the program. Her lab supported three high school interns from Dallas who worked on analyzing water usage data to investigate if water conservation education and targeted marketing are resulting in decreased water usage. Read more about Thompson’s work in environmental education.
Pharmaceuticals in water
Amanda Quay, a second-year student in UNT’s Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, has already been published in six publications for her aquatic toxicology research. Working in Bill Acree’s chemistry lab, Quay analyzed about 150 pharmaceutical compounds to determine which ones remain in water longer. Quay discovered that ibuprofen is one of the most toxic to the nation’s water supply.
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