Ashland University Environmental Lecture Series Set for April 14

4/4/11 ASHLAND, OH -- Ashland University's 2010-2011 Environmental Lecture Series on "Invasive Species" will conclude on April 14 when Dr. John Chick, Field Station Director, National Great Rivers Research and Education Center in Brighten, Ill., will speak at 7:30 p.m. in the Hawkins-Conard Student Center Auditorium.

This is the fourth and final lecture of the series and is free and open to the public. Chick will speak on "Planktonic food webs and Asian carp in Great Rivers and Potential Consequences of an Invasion of the Great Lakes."

According to Chick, bighead carp became established in the Upper Mississippi River in the early 1990s, and silver carp followed a few years later. After 2000, several strong year-classes of silver carp were produced in the Upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers, and this invasive species has been highly visible due to its jumping behavior.

Great Rivers have well developed planktonic food webs capable of supporting these filter feeding-fishes. Both bighead and silver carp show strong dietary overlap with native filter-feeding gizzard shad and bigmouth buffalo, and slight overlap with paddle fish. To date, there is no clear evidence of declines in populations of gizzard shad or bigmouth buffalo in the Mississippi or Illinois rivers, but the average physical condition of individuals from these native species has declined in the Illinois River.

Both species of Asian carp could become established in the Great Lakes if the electric barrier operating in the Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal fails to prevent the movement of these fishes into Lake Michigan. Because production in Lake Michigan is substantially lower than in the Illinois or Mississippi rivers, Asian carp may adversely affect native fauna in Lake Michigan through competition for plankton.

Although it is unclear if either species of Asian carp would be able to successfully reproduce in the Great Lakes, the role of an effective barrier to prevent movement of fish from the Illinois River to Lake Michigan is crucial; reproduction of Asian carp in the Illinois River might be enough to sustain populations of these invasive species within Lake Michigan if their movements are unchecked.

Dr. Chick has been a Field Station Director with the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) since 2000, and an affiliate with the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center since 2005. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois and mentors graduate students.  From 2006 to 2009, Dr. Chick served as leader of the INHS Field Station and Ecosystem Science Section, supervising five Ph.D. level Field Station Directors.

Dr. Chick conducts research on a variety of aspects related to large-river ecology, including analysis and modeling of fish community patterns, invasive species research, assessment of habitat restoration projects, zooplankton ecology and trophic interactions.  He has a bachelor of science degree in Wildlife and Fish Biology (1988) from the University of Massachusetts, a master of science degree in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (1992) from the University of Florida, and a Ph.D. in Ecology (1997) from the University of Georgia.

He has received more than $5 million in research grants from federal agencies, including the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. EPA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Sea Grant Program).

The Environmental Lecture Series is sponsored by a grant from the Lubrizol Foundation. Previous lectures in the series are archived and can be viewed at http://www.ashland.edu/departments/environmental-science/lecture-series

Ashland University (www.ashland.edu<http://www.ashland.edu>) is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.