We tend to focus most our research efforts on the ecology, conservation biology and management of aquatic and semi-aquatic animals.  Here are a few examples of current projects.

1) Responses of reptile and amphibian populations and communities to local and landscape-scale heterogeneity.

  • Our research has demonstrated that streams on reclaimed mined land have reduced stream salamander occupancy, abundance and species richness compared to reference streams (Muncy et al. 2014; Price et al 2016). These findings suggest that current reclamation approaches, as required through the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act, do not offset the impacts of mining on stream biota.  
  • Our studies in suburban and urban areas have documented patterns of reduced animal occupancy, changes in community structure, and altered vital rates compared to reference sites (Guzy et al. 2013; Price et al. 2014; Murphy et al 2016; Todd et al. 2016). 
  • Within the context of renewable energy development, we completed several projects that investigated the population ecology, behavior and management of the imperiled desert tortoise on wind energy facilities in the Western US (i.e., Agha et al. 2015).

 

2) Influence of spatial scale and network structure on dispersal, gene flow and population structure in lotic-associated animals.

  • In collaboration with David Weisrock (UK-Biology) and Wendell Haag (US Forest Service), we investigate both the spatial extent and relative importance of host dispersal for gene flow and population structure within several freshwater mussel species.
  • Mason Murphy (UK Biology MS and current PhD student and Miami University (OH) used genomic techniques to study the effects of network structure on mudpuppies (Necturus maculosus) in Kentucky. 

 

3) Ecology and management of imperiled or sensitive animal populations.

  • The Price lab documented snake fungal disease in Kentucky in 2014 (Price et al. 2015; Lorch et al. 2016) and, in collaboration with researchers at the National Wildlife Health Center, the University of Wisconsin, University of Western Ontario and Smithsonian Institution, we are using novel capture-mark-recapture techniques and laboratory tests that quantify infection severity to measure the effects of this emerging disease on survivorship and behavior in wild snake populations.
  • We having ongoing projects focused on assessing imperiled amphibians species in Kentucky, including hellbenders, streamside salamanders and crawfish frogs.  
  • In collaboration with Wendell Haag, we have begun using juvenile mussels to identify causes and sources of stream degradation in eastern Kentucky.