Researchers in the Odum School of Ecology will work with colleagues from universities across the U.S. Sun Belt on a study of water sustainability in the face of climate change and population growth. The four-year project, to be led by North Carolina State University, is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation. Arizona State University and Florida International University also are participating in the study.
Ecologist John Kominoski, currently a postdoctoral associate in the Odum School, said the researchers will be using historical data to determine how factors such as population, water use and climate have affected the sustainability of freshwater resources, both in terms of ecosystem health and availability for human use.
The fish data, he said, serve as a measure of ecosystem health and resilience, providing information about the biodiversity supported by these river basins over time.
Kominoski and colleagues at UGA along with researchers from Arizona State will focus on biodiversity and ecosystem health in terms of fish community resilience and persistence using data from river basins in Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and Arizona.
Data about fish communities in Georgia will be contributed by Byron Freeman, a senior public service associate in the Odum School and director of the Georgia Museum of Natural History. He along with Mary Freeman, a U.S. Geological Survey assistant research ecologist, and Megan Hagler, a research professional with the UGA River Basin Center, have compiled comprehensive long-term datasets about fish communities in the Flint and Conasauga river basins.
The team will use this information to look back in time and then to forecast the state of freshwater resources in the South over the next 10-30 years.