Category: CMS-Biology

Dr. Christopher Butler Receives Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Grant

Dr. Christopher Butler, professor of biology, has received a four-year $332,100 grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. His project, “Comparing detectability and efficiency of multiple methods for surveying rails,” will improve detection rates of Black Rail and King Rail species on the Texas Gulf Coast.
The specific objectives of the project are: to conduct present-absence surveys using multiple approaches that include both detection and occupancy rates for rail species; evaluate whether FLIR-equipped (thermal) UAVs may be used to detect multiple rail species; refine a survey technique for long-term monitoring that, afterwards, might be continued by TPWD staff for various rail species; and assess potential habitat associations that relate back to management practices conducted on state and federal lands.

 

Dr. Andrew Taylor Receives OK Department of Wildlife Conservation Grant

Dr. Andrew Taylor, assistant professor of biology, received a $119,361 grant from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Dr. Christopher Butler, professor of biology will serve as a Co-Principal Investigator on the grant. The two-year project, “Detection and Occupancy of Bluntface Shiner (Cyprinella camura) in Wadeable Streams of Northeastern Oklahoma,” will update the known distribution and habitat associations of Bluntface Shiner. The extent of the species’ current geographic distribution is unknown. This project will perform targeted field collections of Bluntface Shiner across streams in 15 north central and northeastern Oklahoma counties. Over the course of the project, sampling will be focused among locations within the Verdigris River basin, upper Arkansas River basin, and the Ozark Mountains ecoregion.

Research Group Investigates Gene Transfer in Bacteria

Biology professor Dr. Jim Bidlack and his research group are investigating gene transfer in bacteria. Better understanding of how bacteria become multidrug resistant can help researchers develop new techniques that can control bacterial infections and save human lives. Coincidently, a new gene locus encoding for bile salt sensitivity in bacteria appears to be the same gene locus responsible for antibiotic resistance. Dr. Bidlack’s students are currently isolating that gene locus so that it can be sequenced and determine what part of the DNA encodes for antibiotic resistance. If successful, it may be possible to use that information to develop new drugs that will be more effective in fighting bacterial infections.

UCO Professors Collaborate on U. of Kansas NSF EPSCoR Grant

Drs. Robert Brennan and Sean Laverty are part of a multi-institutional NSF EPSCoR grant to research tick-borne diseases including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The four-year $3,921,229 grant, “Marshalling Diverse Big Data Streams to Understand Complexity of Tick-borne Diseases in the Southern Great Plains,”  is a collaboration among six universities in Kansas and Oklahoma, with the University of Kansas (KU) serving as the lead institution. Along with KU and UCO, the consortium includes Kansas State University, Pittsburgh State University, Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma. According to the project abstract, major components of the research include assembling detailed large-scale datasets on the occurrences of different tick species, genomes of the ticks and pathogens, and environmental variation across the region. Dr. Brennan, biology professor, director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Education and Research (CIBER) and associate dean of the UCO College of Mathematics and Science, serves as a Co-Principal Investigator on the grant. Dr. Laverty, associate professor of mathematics and statistics and CIBER member, will provide data analysis.  

 

Biology’s New Ichthyologist: Dr. Andrew Taylor

Dr. Andrew Taylor

Dr. Taylor with a native Neosho Smallmouth Bass from the Baron Fork near Tahlequah, OK. This subspecies of Smallmouth Bass is only found in the Ozarks ecoregion.

Dr. Andrew Taylor is in his second year as an Assistant Professor within the Biology Department. With a background in fisheries biology and management, Dr. Taylor’s research focuses on the conservation of native fish biodiversity within riverscapes, the effects of non-native and invasive fishes, and the management and conservation of native black bass (Micropterus spp.) diversity. Since arriving at UCO, Dr. Taylor has been busy teaching Diversity for Majors, General Biology, Vertebrate Zoology, and developing the first comprehensive Ichthyology course offered at UCO. Dr. Taylor is also curating the UCO Museum of Natural History’s Ichthyology Collection and developing plans to integrate these collections into research efforts on campus and abroad.

“The Taylor Fish Lab” has started several local research projects that allow students opportunities to gain valuable field experience, including monitoring stream fish community change in Chisholm Creek and revisiting the taxonomic descriptions of Smallmouth Bass in Oklahoma’s Ozark and Ouachita mountains ecoregions. The lab anticipates beginning a large-scale survey for a state-listed minnow species in summer 2021 with the support of an external grant with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s State Wildlife Grant program, in partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Dr. Andrew Taylor and Group

Dr. Taylor discussing fish identification while seining a local pond with his Ichthyology students.

Dr. Taylor is always looking for motivated students with an interest in fish or aquatic habitats to join the lab! You can follow along with his lab’s adventures on Twitter (@TaylorFishLab1) or at his lab’s website www.andrewtaylor.fish.

 

Biology Student Spotlight: Briant Nguyen

Briant Nguyen

Briant showing off an unexpected logperch sampled from Chisholm Creek during his research.

Briant Nguyen is a senior at UCO and will be earning his B.S. degree at the end of the Fall 2020 semester. Briant came into UCO with a particular interest and curiosity about fish and fishing. Briant has been working within the UCO Natural History Museum for a year, lending his eye for fish to help identify and accession fish into the Ichthyology Collection. To date, over 1,400 fish have been added to the collection.

Briant began working alongside Dr. Taylor in Fall 2019, devising a study to examine changes in local stream fish communities in relation to land-use changes. Briant has worked closely with state agencies and universities to obtain historical data collections, and he is pairing these collections with some of his own data collections in Chisholm, Deer, and Cottonwood creeks. The ultimate goal of this study is to quantify fish community changes over time and identify potential anthropogenic drivers.

Over the summer of 2020, Briant served in a paid internship with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Stream Survey program. Briant was able to travel across our great state while learning different methods used to sample fish, how to collect environmental data, and how to identify many of Oklahoma’s native fishes.

Briant plans to continue his ichthyological studies at UCO by pursuing an M.S. degree in biology. Alongside co-PI’s Dr. Taylor and Dr. Butler, Briant will focus on estimating native stream fish distributions in Oklahoma.