I am fascinated in how aquatic organisms influence ecosystem processes. My thesis research focuses on the effect of an invasive species, the American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana), on aquatic ecosystems in the southwest. Bullfrogs are originally from the eastern United States. However, over the last century, they have become widespread around the world. They are a concern in many parts of their introduced range because they eat anything they can fit in their mouths (amphibians, birds, mammals, etc!), they compete with native species, and they can also be a vector for amphibian diseases. However, relatively little is know about how bullfrogs (especially their tadpoles) influence other parts of the ecosystem. I seek to understand how bullfrogs, compared to native amphibians, affect algae communities and nutrient cycling in the San Pedro River in southeastern Arizona. I am combining natural observations and enclosure experiments in order to disentangle the effects of tadpole grazing and nutrient excretion on algae communities and nitrogen and phosphorus dynamics.
I received my bachelors of science from the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. While there, I participated in a semester-long, field research program at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Center on Vancouver Island. During my time at Bamfield, I conducted an independent research project studying shell color and pattern variation in an intertidal whelk along a wave exposure gradient. Throughout my undergraduate, I participated in several other field research projects, and I became fascinated in freshwater ecosystems and amphibian ecology. I helped with a landscape genetics study of chorus frogs in northern Colorado, a behavior and development study of red-eyed tree frogs in Panama, and an amphibian survey along the Powder River in Wyoming.
I am passionate about science education and hope to pursue this field in the future. Prior to starting my masters, I volunteered for several excellent science education groups in Montana, including the Montana Natural History Center, the Watershed Education Network, and the Clark Fork Watershed Education Program. I also enjoy playing ultimate frisbee, running, hiking, and reading.