Thesis Defense

Congratulations to Jamie Becker on her thesis defense!

Jamie gave an excellent presentation on her work showing how climate influences animal water and nutrient demand across landscapes influenced by urbanization.


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Recent publications

The lab has published several papers this year, related to either animal water content and ecology, urbanization, or both.

Kevin McCluney, Justin Burdine, and Steve Frank published a paper showing that mean arthropod water content in Raleigh, NC, Phoenix, AZ, and Orlando, FL becomes more similar with increasing urbanization. Highly urban Raleigh arthropods are drier, while highly urban Phoenix and Orlando arthropods are wetter. Other research has documented how changes in arthropod water content can influence trophic interactions and food web dynamics. Thus our results suggest that urbanization can change food webs by altering arthropod water balance (in vs out).

Undergraduate alumni Edward Lagucki, advised by PhD student Justin Burdine, and Kevin McCluney published a paper showing that gardens and parks in more urban settings of Toledo have fewer flying insects, including groups of insects that include pollinators like bees, and predators important for controlling pests. Higher soil moisture seems to help alleviate some of these declines. Although more research is needed to better identify particular species that are highly affected and confirm mechanisms, this research contributes to growing evidence that urbanization can alter food webs in ways that influence humans.

Kevin McCluney published a sole-authored opinion paper, laying out the evidence that arthropods may be widely water-limited and exploring how variation in animal water balance (in vs out) might influence food webs. Email Dr. McCluney if you would like a copy of this paper (not open access).

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McCluney lab outreach: women in science

The McCluney lab participates in Imagination Station’s “Girl Power!” event which is designed to support women in science. Jamie Becker demonstrates the Urban Heat Island effect, where areas with large amounts of impervious surface are generally hotter and drier than areas with vegetation.

IMG_3815    20170211_125951_resized


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“The Journal” interviews Dr. McCluney about Lake Erie water quality research

“The Journal,” a talk show on WBGU-TV, the local PBS station, recently interviewed Dr. McCluney (along with collaborator Dr. Bob Midden) about the lab’s research on phosphorous sources and sinks in the watersheds leading to Lake Erie. Here’s a link to the interview:

Of course, there are many people that are contributing to research discussed by Dr. McCluney and Dr. Midden, including collaborators Laura Johnson at Heidelberg University, Mark Williams and Kevin King at the USDA, and PhD student Melanie Marshall and MS student Gabby Metzner, within the McCluney lab. Many other scientists within and outside of OH are also contributing important information about the causes of Lake Erie’s algal blooms.

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Paper published! Animal water balance drives top-down effects

Dr. McCluney recently published a paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Science that extends his previous work and tests if animal water balance can drive top-down effects in open-air food webs [download post-print here or email Dr. McCluney for a free copy of the published manuscript]. This research highlights the importance of moisture availability in altering the effect of predators on prey, with cascading effects on vegetation. The work was conducted by Dr. McCluney as a post-doc at Arizona State University and subsequently revised and published while at BGSU. Ongoing research by Dr. McCluney and by PhD student Jamie Becker is expanding on this work.

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PhD Student Justin Burdine Wins Scholarship

Justin Burdine received notification that he will be awarded an Annie’s Homegrown Sustainable Agriculture Scholarship for his work on the ecology of bees in urban gardens! Congrats Justin!

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Honors students graduate!

In the spring of 2016 our first two honors students presented their theses and graduated! Congrats and good luck as they move on to graduate programs!

Nadejda Mirochnitchenko!

Haley Ingram!

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New grant for studying age of phosphorus running off fields

In the spring of 2016 we received additional funding from the Ohio Department of Higher Education to expand our ongoing research on Phosphorus sources to Lake Erie (note, P loading has been implicated in the recent toxic algal blooms). With this new research we will examine the age of the P running off agricultural fields in addition to expanding our efforts to trace sources of P to Lake Erie. Both of these projects employ stable isotopes of phosphate. These subprojects are part of a larger effort at understanding P sources to Lake Erie led by Laura Johnson at Heidelberg University and in collaboration with Bob Midden (BGSU), Paula Mouser (OSU), Jay Martin (OSU), and Rem Confesor (Heidelberg). Graduate students Melanie Marshall and Gabby Metzner are working on this project and are also connecting in their own research by examining effects of stream/ditch restoration efforts and trace chemicals on fluxes of P through linked aquatic-terrestrial food webs.

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Catching up

We were so busy doing research and teaching that we got a little behind with our posts. Here are a few key news items from the past year!

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Nadya Mirochnitchenko receives best poster award

Undergraduate Nadya Mirochnitchenko receives the CURS Glass award for her poster presentation on the spatial and temporal variation in concentrations of trace chemicals and macroinvertebrates in the Portage River watershed in NW Ohio. The hand-blown glass award was presented by university president Mary Ellen Mazey.



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Undergraduates Receive Research Awards!

Nadya Mirochnitchenko and Haley Ingram, undergraduate honors students working in the McCluney Lab, have both received summer research scholarships from the BGSU Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship.

Nadya Mirochnitchenko received funding to study the effects of washed-up algal blooms of varying toxicity on lakeshore food webs along Lake Erie.

Haley Ingram received funding to examine the relationship between riverine ecosystem condition (e.g. water quality) and human perception of those conditions within different socioeconomic groups, as well as the effects of exposing study participants to different types of written statements about local ecosystem condition.

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Grant to Study Phosphorous Sources Involved in Lake Erie Toxic Algal Blooms

The lab has been awarded its first sizable grant! As part of a collaborative effort with researchers from several other universities, we will be helping to determine sources of phosphorous involved in the recent occurrence of toxic algal blooms in Lake Erie (which made international headlines last summer by shutting down Toledo’s water supply). Specifically, we will be using stable isotopes of oxygen, within phosphate molecules, to trace sources of phosphate from algal blooms, to lake sediments or several key watersheds, up into specific sub-watersheds, and even to specific sources like particular waste-water treatment plants or farms that may be contributing. Moreover, we will determine hotspots of biological processing and removal of P from these watersheds. The grant is funded by the Ohio Board of Regents. In addition to money for sample processing, this means more funds for undergraduate and graduate student research assistantships!

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Local newspaper article about summer urban water web research

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“Water as a trophic currency” paper published!

A new co-authored paper on how water availability influences riparian food webs (crickets, spiders, lizards) in open-air experimental plots has been published in the newest issue of Frontiers.
Email me if you need a copy

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Riverine Macrosystems Paper Published

Dr. McCluney’s paper (with co-authors) on riverine macrosystems ecology has been published in an open access special issue on macrosystems ecology.
Read the paper here:
Read the special issue here:

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Cover of Ecosystems

One of my photos ended up on the cover of the issue of Ecosystems containing a paper I co-authored with Julie Stromberg, Mark Dixon, and Thomas Meixner.

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Water Wings

I recently wrote a popular article for the Maricopa Audobon Society about the extension of some of my river drying research to birds

See page 12: 

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Water Webs Podcast

A podcast highlighting my water web research was recently produced:

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