Amphibians, Wetland Aquatic Ecosystems, and the Impact of Invasive Plants, presented by Richard D. Durtsche, Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Kentucky University.
Invasive shrub species (e.g., Amur honeysuckle – Lonicera maackii) are currently taking over waterway edges from streams, ponds, and wetlands to rivers and lakes throughout the eastern United States. Leachates of leaves lost from these invasive plants into aquatic systems can add metabolites (tannins) or toxins (phenolics) that potentially impact the development and fitness of aquatic vertebrates (larval amphibians and fish).
Dr. Durtsche’s field of interest is understanding how ectotherms (fish, amphibians, and reptiles) respond (physiologically) to varying ecological conditions, both biotic (invasive species) and abiotic (climate change), are drivers of the research questions addressed in Dr. Durtsche’s lab. All of his research activities involve undergraduates collaborators. Current research topics include: 1) testing potential climate change impacts on the metabolism of Kentucky stream fishes; 2) monitoring the effects of invasive plant control on native amphibian and reptile populations; and 3) developing digital imaging tools to determine the nutritional quality of macroinvertebrates for use in ecological models of drift foraging by fish.