I was working on my PhD under the direction of Dr. Clay Pierce and Dr. Tim Stewart. We attempted to understand the interactions and effects of carp, zebra mussels, and the native biological community on water quality in Clear Lake, and to organize this knowledge into a simulation model for predicting future changes and the outcomes of management actions. The resulting model will enable prediction of the effects of both biological (e.g., changes in carp and zebra mussel abundance) and non-biological (e.g., external nutrient loading) factors on water quality in Clear Lake, and facilitate evaluation of a variety of scenarios and management alternatives for future water quality. How much of the existing carp biomass must be removed before a water quality improvement is seen? Will reduction of carp biomass through targeted netting improve water quality, or will other bottom-feeding species such as black bullheads rapidly increase in response to reduced carp and impede water quality improvement? As zebra mussels increase in abundance, how will water quality respond? Without a model to simulate all these interrelated components, we have no answers to these and many more important questions. Our simulation model will provide a tool for scientists, managers and other decision makers to evaluate effects of potential ecosystem changes and alternative management actions in Clear Lake and other similar systems.
My research interests have evolved to using empirical data and existing information to develop ecosystem models that can answer larger restoration and conservation questions. I am also interested in the application of open source software and technology to advance the use of ecosystem models by natural resource managers.