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August 20, 2010

ULM graduate biology students join professor at national conference

Department of Biology graduate students at the University of Louisiana at Monroe joined ULM Associate Professor Anna M. Hill, Ph.D., to present research at the joint American Society of Limnology and Oceanography / North American Benthological Society scientific conference in Santa Fe, N.M., held the week of June 6 - 12.

Graduate student Tamika Aldridge presented a poster titled, “Digital Comparison of Anisoptera Larvae Morphology,” and another graduate student, Tracy Hooks, of Gainesville, Ga., presented a poster titled, “Abiotic Influences on Freshwater Mussel Community Composition.”

Aldridge presented research in which she and Hill are using digital photography and morphological landmark analysis in an attempt to find ways to distinguish among species of early instar dragonfly larvae. “Identification to species generally requires late instars,” explained Hill.

“The conference was a great experience,” said Aldridge. “It was amazing to see the work of other scientists, as well as present my own research. I was able to converse with others about my work and I received some valuable input, all while enjoying a beautiful city. Not a bad way to spend the summer at all!”

Hooks presented preliminary analysis of a large environmental data set for mussels in Bayou Bartholomew.

“Bayou Bartholomew has a very large diversity of mussels, giving us a unique opportunity to identify which variables are most important in maintaining healthy populations and diversity,” said Hill.

“It was a great experience in that I was able to meet with some of the experts in the field and received great feedback and suggestions from them which will allow me to fine tune my research efforts,” said Hooks.

“It also provided an opportunity to interact on a large scale, not just in a classroom, and to see what others are doing in this field of research in other parts of the country,” Hooks continued. “It made me realize what an incredible and diverse natural resource we have in Bayou Bartholomew. We have more than 40 species of mussels; whereas, most researchers are working with only two or three species.”

ASLO and NABS are large international scientific societies. This year's annual meeting had approximately 2000 attendees from as far away as Australia, Japan, and China.

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