2012 - 2013 Global Change Fellow
Where are they now?
Ernie is now a Coastal Habitat Biologist in the Habitat & Enhancement Section, North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries.
Statement of purpose:
I am a fourth year PhD student working with James Gilliam and Stacy Nelson. My research interests are in biological invasions, species interactions, and landscape ecology. I am especially interested in how changing habitats and community structures can affect the demographic rates and population connectivity, and thus persistence, of native species. The environments that I choose to work in are changing due to anthropogenic impact, evolving community structures, and climate change. I normally work in lotic habitats, with an emphasis on native fish and invertebrates. Upon completion of my doctoral studies, I intend to seek a position within academia, or other research institutions, that will allow me to conduct leading research on the understanding of population persistence under threat by invasive species and a changing environment at local, regional, and global scales.
Description of research:
My current research, under the mentorship of Jim Gilliam, explores the impacts of exotic species on native migratory fishes within the framework of watershed land use and conditions. This project addresses the SECSC Science Theme 2, task 3 by exploring the relative influence of upstream and downstream land uses, as well as habitat characteristics and community structure, for predicting native and exotic fish densities across the landscape. We are also investigating negative interactions between exotic and native fishes, using field data and mesocosm experiments, in order to quantify impacts of exotic fish species in isolation of land use. I am also collaborating with Ashton Drew and the Biodiversity and Spatial Information Center at NCSU on a hierarchical landscape model for threatened and endangered freshwater mussels in North Carolina. This research will use landscape and local habitat data to predict occupancy of the Tar spinymussel and associated species, and provide a framework for testing predictions and hypothesis regarding future habitat suitability in a changing environment.