Biocitizen is so pleased to welcome Sabrina Moore to the Living Rivers School senior staff!
Sabrina is a graduate student at the University of North Texas pursuing a PhD degree in Biology. Her main research area involves the aquatic ecology of the Robalo River and the effect of invasive rainbow trout on the phenology of invertebrate prey.
Sabrina works with mentors Dr. James Kennedy in the U.S. and with Dr. Tamara Contador at the Omora Ethnobotanical Park on Navarino Island near Puerto Williams, Chile.
Do you like playing outside, jumping in creeks, catching fish in nets, and setting traps for insects? This is what I do as an aquatic ecologist. Ecologists look at big pictures, but also at every small detail.
When I first see a river, the first thing I do is get into the water and search for all the possible hiding places and habitats of organisms. I like to identify the leaf stuck under a rock and look to see if anything is eating it? I derive great pleasure in discovering an organism like a stonefly shredding a maple leaf, knowing that it’s creating a meal for a caddisfly which will catch the leaf litter in a net it has woven specifically to the exact size of the morsel floating down stream. The precision of nature astounds. It makes me want to explore all the connections–to turn over logs, shake the tree leaves and look through the moss–to understand why every organism exists. The answer always tells of a perfectly designed self-sustaining cycle that utilizes all life in the stream and forest to balance the whole.
My job takes me to rivers and streams all over the world. Right now, I am in Chile at the very bottom of South America, on an island not far from Antarctica. On Navarino Island, I spend almost every day backpacking my equipment to different sites along rivers where I pull on my waders and rock hop across fast flowing water and rapids until I find a good spot to take samples of fish, insects, and aquatic plants.
I’m fortunate to be in a place where the water is so clean the islanders can drink straight from the river. Part of my job is to understand how to keep the water that pristine. In one of the streams we discovered a species that is not usually found in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s likely these fish have escaped from fish farms in the ocean. These invasive predators eat so many insects that they disrupt the natural balance in the river as well as the connection between the river and forest. Figuring out how to maintain a healthy ecosystem is the most important part of our work. I am excited that you want to join that effort! I spend a lot of time in the lab dissecting the fish and insects we catch and preparing samples for further study under microscopes. We are trying to figure out what the invasive fish are eating, so that we can educate the community about the impacts and work to create solutions to solve the challenges.
This is why I want to come to Massachusetts to teach and research with you and Dr. Boyd Kynard! The more we can understand about the habitat the better we can protect it. We will have fun kayaking on the Connecticut River monitoring the native sturgeon and discovering what organisms are living in the water and along its banks. I will help you hold these ancient fish, measure them, weigh them, and discover why we should take care of them.
I am looking forward to joining the Living Rivers School and meeting you this summer.