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Water Center

Biodiversity and Ecology


The aquatic animals living in certain water sources can be indicators of water quality. 

The overarching objective of this area is to enable basic and applied research related to aquatic ecosystem conservation and management.  Current research interests among faculty members in this area are diverse, mainly covering endangered, invasive, and game species management; food webs; biogeochemistry; climate change impacts; and ecosystem services.  The biological groups of interest include bacteria, algae, macroinvertebrates, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, waterfowl, and bats, as well as genetic-based detection and conservation strategies for many of these groups.  Twelve faculty in the Department of Biology, School of Environmental Studies, and USGS Cooperative Fishery Unit are active in this area. 

Research Focus Area Leader: Dr. Justin Murdock, Biology

Every spring in east Tennessee, tens of thousands of fishes called buffalo make the short trip upstream from Tellico Reservoir into a small tributary called Citico Creek to reproduce.  Although their journey is far less dramatic than the much-celebrated salmon of the Pacific Northwest, these buffalo likely share at least one important similarity with the salmon:  through their migrations, they transport large quantities of essential nutrients between aquatic habitats.  Given their ability to act as conveyor belts of materials that fuel production in habitats used for spawning, researchers at Tennessee Tech are left to wonder, are suckers the salmon of the South? 


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