News & Updates

2018 Archive

2018-12-21 - Jack Monroe receives GCC Undergraduate Research Grant

Jack Monroe, an undergraduate researcher in our lab, was awarded a research grant from Virginia Tech's Global Change Center (GCC)! Jack is a junior at Virginia Tech majoring in Biological Sciences and Microbiology and minoring in Chemistry. The GCC award will fund Jack's proposed research quantifying the phenology and spatial heterogeneity of microbial carbon metabolism in local stream networks. Congratulations, Jack!

Update: 2019-01-22 - Press release announcing all 13 Fellows at Virginia Tech

2018-12-18 - AGU in DC

Last week Erin attended the American Geophysical Union (AGU) annual fall meeting in Washington, DC. Erin gave an invited presentation, “Scaling Pattern and Process in Fluvial Networks”, in a special session: "River Corridor Biogeochemical and Hydrologic Dynamics across Scales”. Erin also co-convened a special session with Diego Riveros-Iregui titled “Beyond Ecosystem Boundaries: Integrating Terrestrial and Aquatic Processes to Advance Catchment Biogeoscience”.

2018-12-04 - End-of-semester undergraduate research updates

Our final lab meeting of the semester offered us the opportunity to hear more about ongoing research by undergraduates Sumaiya Rahman and Caitlin Miller.

Sumaiya's REU project is investigating "Patterns in CO2 and CH4 fluxes across intermittent streams" and providing critical pre-warming baseline data on carbon fluxes in the experimental and reference streams for our Stream Warming Project in Coweeta, NC.

Caitlin's undergraduate "Bioassay Bonanza" project is testing the role of "Stream confluences as control points in carbon cycling" in collaboration with Stephen Plont, who is also digging in to the consequences of ecosystem processes at confluences for downstream water quality.

Both Caitlin and Sumaiya are continuing their research with us in Spring 2019! Morgan Gallagher will also continue her undergraduate research on processes controlling CH4 dynamics in local streams. Jack Monroe will start a new undergraduate research project in collaboration with Kristen Bretz and Morgan, where he will quantify the spatial and temporal diversity of microbial carbon metabolism in stream networks. Lots of fun projects and exciting new science!

Fall 2018 Hotchkiss Lab Crew (left to right): Stephen Plont, Caitlin Miller (kneeling), Kristen Bretz, Erin Hotchkiss, Brynn O'Donnell (kneeling), Morgan Gallagher, Sumaiya Rahman. [Not pictured: Jack Monroe, Emily Byrd, & honorary lab member Emeritus Professor Jack Webster]

2018-11-20 - Research/Writing Retreat in Québec

Erin recently returned from a research and writing retreat with collaborators from Université du Québec à Montréal. Students, postdocs, and professors spent a snowy week in the Eastern Townships moving paper drafts forward and beginning new analyses of data collected during different stages of river-to-reservoir transitions in La Romaine, a large boreal river that is in the process of being converted into a series of four hydropower reservoirs. In addition to measuring carbon fluxes and fate pre/post reservoir(s), our collaborations aim to better understand changes in organic matter and microbial diversity from soils/headwaters to the river mouth/estuary and quantify coupling/decoupling of dissolved gas dynamics (e.g., CO2, CH4, O2, Rn, 13C-CO2, 13C-CH4) along the boreal river discontinuum.

Pictured (left to right): Dr. Pascal Bodmer, Dr. Clara Ruiz-González, Felipe Rust, Marie Gérardin, Dr. Erin Hotchkiss, Dr. Paul del Giorgio, Dr. Tristy Vick-Majors, Dr. Sophie Crevecoeur, Masumi Stadler, Dr. Joan Pere Casas Ruiz. [photo from M. Stadler]

2018-10-23 - Photos from the field: Confluence Experiment

Students from the Hotchkiss, Barrett, Carey, McLaughlin, and Brown labs assisted graduate student Stephen Plont with fieldwork sampling for a multi-day experiment on Stroubles Creek and Walls Branch near Prices Fork last weekend. Stephen is using whole-stream pulse additions of dissolved organic matter and nutrients to measure the role of microbial metabolism, above and below stream confluences, in controlling downstream water quality. Exciting science and a great example of a supportive and collaborative student network thanks to Virginia Tech's Stream Team and Cross-Boundary Biogeosciences groups!

2018-10-19 - Hotchkiss & O'Donnell participate in Earth Science Women's Network 2018 Science-A-Thon

Erin and Brynn posted their "day of science" on twitter to share their experience as scientists, educators, mentors, and science communicators as part of the 2018 Earth Science Women's Network (ESWN) Science-A-Thon. Click on the following links to: see recent posts by Brynn, read Erin's #dayofscience thread, and learn more about science-a-thon and ESWN.

2018-10-03 - Plont co-author on new L&O Methods paper

Master's student Stephen Plont co-authored a paper now online in Limnology & Oceanography: Methods: Lee-Cullin et al. "Toward measuring biogeochemistry within the stream‐groundwater interface at the network scale: An initial assessment of two spatial sampling strategies". Congratulations, Stephen and co-authors!

2018-09-26 - "Heterotrophic Regimes" Workshop

Erin Hotchkiss attended an international workshop on “Heterotrophic Regimes” in Ovronnaz, Switzerland. The workshop was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and Swiss National Foundation (SNF) and brought together selected scientists from the US, Europe, and Australia who study carbon cycling and ecosystem metabolism in streams and rivers. Working groups that emerged from this workshop are collaborating on papers exploring topics related to: modeling terrestrial controls on ecosystem respiration regimes, understanding basal metabolism in streams, quantifying hypoxia in running waters, and linking the physiology of freshwater ecosystems and consumers. Thanks to Tom Battin and Amber Ulseth of SBER EPFL and Jim Heffernan / StreamPULSE for coordinating a great week of science in the mountains!

2018-09-04 - Planning Grant: Global Environment Nutrient Network

Hotchkiss is senior personnel on a recent small grant awarded to Stanley Grant et al. by the National Science Foundation - "Planning Grant: Engineering Research Center for the Global Environment Nutrient Network (GEN-2)". The funding will support the development of a full proposal to fund an Engineering Research Center and workshops to strengthen new interdisciplinary collaborations among engineers, hydrologists, oceanographers, ecologists, economists, political scientists, and education experts.

2018-08-24 - Photos from the field: Coweeta Hydrologic Lab in NC

Erin Hotchkiss, Sumaiya Rahman (VT Biology undergrad and 2018 REU Fellow), and Kristen Bretz (new EEB/IGC PhD student) recently returned from Coweeta Hydrologic Lab in NC, where they were collecting data for a NSF-funded project (“Collaborative Research - Headwater stream networks in a warming world: Predicting heterotrophic ecosystem function using theory, multi-scale temperature manipulations and modeling" – Hotchkiss is a PI) and mapping river network discontinuities with collaborators from the University of Connecticut (Dr. Ashley Helton & PhD student Danielle Hare).

2018-08-20 - Brynn O'Donnell launches "Submerge" Podcast

Master’s student Brynn O’Donnell recently launched Submerge: “a podcast dedicated to exploring the various ways our perceptions and beliefs about water can shape our relationship with it”. Her first two podcasts are about “Salty Streams” and “Eruptions from the Deep”. Coming soon: “Water Scarcity”.

2018-08-19 - Morgan Gallagher is a 2018-2019 Fralin Undergraduate Research Fellow!

Undergraduate researcher extraordinaire, Morgan Gallagher, was awarded a 2018-2019 Fralin Undergraduate Research Fellowship to support her research on greenhouse gas dynamics in streams! Her research proposal was titled "Identifying unknowns in the global carbon budget: quantification of water column methane production in oxic streams". We’re excited to have Morgan back on campus after she spent spring 2018 abroad in France and summer 2018 as a SURF fellow working with Dr. AJ Reisinger at the University of Florida. Check out her great scicomm video sharing results from her #SummerofScience in FL below:

2018-08-02 - Photos from the field: "Rivers and the Carbon Cycle" in MT

Erin Hotchkiss and Stephen Plont recently returned from conducting fieldwork in Montana for a newly funded collaborative NSF project (“Rivers and the carbon cycle: A mechanistic basis for dissolved organic carbon removal” - PIs Baker, Hall, & Hotchkiss). We successfully tested new methods to trace organic carbon transformations in streams. Additionally, Erin gave an invited seminar to students and researchers at Flathead Lake Biological Station (“Aquatic ecology, water quality, and food webs”) and Stephen completed a summer intensive course on “Environmental Sensors: Designing, Building and Deploying” at Flathead Lake Biological Station’s SensorSpace.

2018-07-28 - Summer Research Symposia

It's been a busy and fun summer in the Hotchkiss Lab! Several summer research programs recently ended, and we enjoyed seeing final presentations from undergraduate researcher Melissa Castillo (pictured; Salt Lake Community College, UT) and NSF RET fellow Schuyler van Montfrans (Decatur Schools, GA) during research symposia on campus last week.

  • Castillo et al. 2018. How do different organic matter sources affect organic carbon uptake in streams? MAOP Summer Research Symposium.

  • van Montfrans et al. 2018. Nutrient limitation and whole-ecosystem metabolism in a dynamic urban stream. Virginia Tech Summer Research Symposium.

Big thanks to MSc students Brynn O'Donnell and Stephen Plont for mentoring and working with Melissa and Schuyler.

Undergraduate fellows from a USDA-funded REEU program also shared what they learned about early consequences of Mountain Vally Pipeline construction during their summer research. Check out the websites they developed to communicate their methods and results!

2018-07-20 - Hotchkiss co-author on new paper in Scientific Reports led by PhD student Mohammed Hamdan

Are we overlooking the role of carbon dioxide (CO2) in limiting or stimulating freshwater freshwater primary production? "Here we show, by manipulating CO2 concentrations in large-scale experimental pond ecosystems, that CO2 availability is a key driver of whole-ecosystem GPP" (Gross Primary Production) - Hamdan et al. (2018).

2018-07-10 - New #NSFFunded Collaborative Research

What processes drive organic carbon removal in streams? How does dissolved organic carbon removal regulate the degree to which running waters are biological reactors versus exporters of carbon? This newly funded project will address these unresolved questions by (1) integrating carbon spiraling metrics with more common stream carbon cycling measurements and (2) developing a proof-of-concept approach to test the degree to which non-additive effects of mixed organic matter sources (i.e., priming) control organic carbon removal in streams. PIs: MA Baker (Utah State), RO Hall (Montana), ER Hotchkiss (Virginia Tech). "Collaborative Research - Rivers and the carbon cycle: a mechanistic basis for dissolved organic carbon removal" - funded by the National Science Foundation Division of Environmental Biology.

2018-06-29 - Science on Tap with Brynn O'Donnell

MSc Student Brynn O'Donnell spoke about her fascination with / research on "Ghost Streams" during this month's New River Valley Science on Tap. Did you know that the ancient romans honored a goddess (Cloacina) of their largest buried waterway? That the Stroubles Creek network is buried throughout much of Blacksburg and the Virginia Tech campus? Or that Brynn and others on campus are conducting research to try to better understand the loss of function and resilience that occurs when we bury and alter streams in other ways? Lots of great food for thought (while enjoying local beer at Rising Silo and painting water with Robin Scully). Well done, Brynn!

2018-06-20 - Join our special session at AGU 2018

Our proposed special session for AGU 2018 in Washington, D.C. was recently accepted for abstract submissions: "Beyond Ecosystem Boundaries: Integrating Terrestrial and Aquatic Processes to Advance Catchment Biogeoscience." We hope to include diverse perspectives from research crossing traditional aquatic-terrestrial, terrestrial-terrestrial, and aquatic-aquatic ecosystem boundaries. Abstracts are due by 01 August 2018. More information about the proposed session and how to submit an abstract can be found here.

UPDATE from 2018-06-25: We have two confirmed invited speakers! We are thrilled to have invited contributions from Dr. Nandita Basu & Dr. Irena Creed for this special session.

2018-06-18 - ASLO in Victoria, BC

Erin Hotchkiss gave an invited tutorial talk (30 minutes on “the state of the science and future research opportunities”) for a special session at the 2018 summer meeting of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) in Victoria, BC, Canada. The title of her talk was “Pipes, chimneys, and processors: Synthesizing perspectives on organic matter transport, reactivity, and fate in aquatic ecosystems.” Two graduate students at different universities but co-advised by Erin presented their research: Marie Gérardin (MSc student, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada) “Identifying the factors controlling the pCO2 decline along a riverine continuum" and Mohammed Hamdan (PhD student, Umeå University, Sweden) “Carbon dioxide limits benthic primary production in boreal lakes”. The Carey Lab was also well-represented at ASLO: Dr. Cayelan Carey gave her award talk for the 2018 Yentsch-Schindler Early Career Award (congrats, Cayelan!!); PhD students Ryan McClure and Mary Lofton presented new results from their dissertation research.

2018-05-30 - Hotchkiss Lab / Stream Team at #2018SFS!

The Hotchkiss Lab and other Biological Sciences Stream Team members recently attended the annual Society for Freshwater Science conference in Detroit, MI. As always, the meeting provided a great opportunity to catch up with friends and collaborators from around the globe (it's our "freshwater family reunion"), learn about exciting new research, and meet new scientists. Below are a few photos from the meeting and presentations from Hotchkiss Lab members and collaborators. See you at #2019SFS in Salt Lake City, UT!

  • Gallagher, M.T.U & E.R. Hotchkiss. 2018. Dynamic heterogeneity of greenhouse gases in streams. Poster.

  • O’Donnell, B.M.G & E.R. Hotchkiss. 2018. Moving from concentration-discharge to process-discharge relationships. Poster.

  • Plont, S.G, B.M. O’DonnellG, M.T. GallagherU, & E.R. Hotchkiss. 2018. Linking energy flow and nutrient cycling in streams. Poster.

  • Sponseller, R.A., A. Lupon, L. Gomez Gener, H. Laudon, & E.R. Hotchkiss. 2018. Connecting stream metabolism to riparian hydrology through dissolved organic matter supply.

  • Hotchkiss, E.R., R.O. Hall, M.A. Baker, & S. PlontG. 2018. Simulating interactive effects of primary production and terrestrial organic matter subsidies on stream organic carbon spiraling. Invited.

G = graduate student

U = undergraduate student

2018-05-10 - Photos from the field: wildflower season

Erin took a couple of much-needed mental health break / bonus hiking days and worked on her southeastern US wildflower IDs while in TN & NC. Great timing for flowers! Locations: Great Smoky Mountain National Park, TN & Coweeta Hydrologic Lab, NC. Next up: VA!

2018-04-30 - Spring 2018 undergraduate research!

Congrats to Virginia Tech Biological Sciences undergraduate students Sumaiya Rahman & Quentin Pitts (& grad mentors Brynn and Stephen) on rocking their own research projects this semester! What is the influence of storm magnitude on dissolved oxygen in streams? How does stream salinization alter dissolved organic matter dynamics? Cool results + many more questions! Quentin is graduating and has been accepted into the Physical Therapy Program at Carilion Roanoke Community Hospital / Radford University. Sumaiya will continue her undergraduate studies and research in our lab. (And yes, the Stream Team Blue Room is very blue.)

2018-04-30 - Hotchkiss lead author on invited paper in Limnology & Oceanography Letters special issue on carbon

How can we develop a more integrative understanding of inland water carbon cycling? To address this question, my coauthors and I applied a general metabolism model to compare carbon fluxes/fates among ecosystems and discuss opportunities for linked ecosystem research:

2018-04-25 - Biological Invasions: Confronting a Crisis

Hotchkiss and colleagues (Jacob Barney, Bryan Brown, David Haak, Scott Salom, and Todd Schenk) recently organized a workshop to bring together a multidisciplinary group of stakeholders interested in invasive species issues. We were thrilled to host keynote speakers on science and policy, Dr. Heather Reynolds and Dr. Jamie Reaser, and look forward to working with others on campus and across the state to ensure Virginia Tech is well-positioned to tackle the "wicked problem" of invasives.

2018-04-18 - Hotchkiss co-author on new paper in Global Change Biology

Creed et al. (2018) emerged from discussions during a working group in Abisko, Sweden in 2014. From the abstract: "we explore the potential consequences of these global change‐driven effects for lake food webs at northern latitudes. Notably, we provide evidence that increased allochthonous DOM supply to lakes is overwhelming increased autochthonous DOM supply that potentially results from earlier ice‐out and a longer growing season. Furthermore, we assess the potential implications of this shift for the nutritional quality of autotrophs in terms of their stoichiometry, fatty acid composition, toxin production, and methylmercury concentration, and therefore, contaminant transfer through the food web. We conclude that global change in northern regions leads not only to reduced primary productivity but also to nutritionally poorer lake food webs, with discernible consequences for the trophic web to fish and humans." We're excited to share this final product!

2018-04-15 - Hotchkiss gives keynote address at CU-Boulder Hydrologic Sciences Symposium

Students in the CU-Boulder Hydrologic Sciences Graduate Program invited Erin to give a keynote address at the 13th annual Hydrologic Sciences Research Symposium. Erin gave an overview of recent and ongoing research in the Hotchkiss Lab, “Pipes, Chimneys, and Processors: Examining Thresholds of Carbon Transport, Reactivity, and Fate in Inland Waters”, and served on a career panel for students with other water science professionals. Thanks to the students, faculty, and staff for a fun and engaging visit! Lots of great science happening on the front range. Views are OK too.

2018-04-07 - Morgan Gallagher receives SFS undergraduate travel award!

Continuing a streak of great news for members of the Hotchkiss Lab, undergraduate researcher Morgan Gallagher was selected to receive a 2018 travel award from the Society of Freshwater Science (SFS). Morgan will present the results of her research project, "Dynamic heterogeneity of greenhouse gases in streams", at the annual SFS conference in May. Congrats, Morgan!

2018-03-21 - Brynn O'Donnell and Stephen Plont receive 2018 SFS Endowment Awards!

Stephen Plont and Brynn O’Donnell, master’s students in the Hotchkiss Lab, each received a $1000 endowment award from the Society of Freshwater Science (SFS). SFS endowment grants are awarded annually to top-ranked graduate student research proposals. Congratulations, Stephen and Brynn!

  • O'Donnell, Brynn. 2018. Process Resilience Following a Storm Pulse Disturbance: Linking Metabolic and Nitrogen Uptake Recovery

  • Plont, Stephen. 2018. Moving Beyond the Stream Reach: Linking Energy Flow and Nutrient Cycling

2018-02-07 - Welcome, Victoria!

Dr. Victoria Julieta Garcia, a visiting postdoc in the Hotchkiss Lab, comes to us from the Austral Center for Scientific Research (Centro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas) in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Victoria is interested in nutrient processing, biogeochemical cycles and metabolism in headwater streams. She is studying how beaver ponds affect water quality and metabolism in sub-Antarctic streams, where beavers are an invasive species. Also, as part of a Governmental initiative of native forest restoration and an exotic species eradication trial, she is evaluating the impact of beaver removal on metabolism and water quality in Tierra del Fuego’s streams.

2018-01-20 - Photos from the field: Coweeta, NC

Erin and Stephen recently joined collaborators from University of Alabama, University of Georgia, Coastal Carolina, and University of Connecticut for our first all-scientists meeting for a recently-funded whole-stream warming project at Coweeta Hydrologic Lab in North Carolina. In addition to having great science discussions, we enjoyed our time hiking along streams, testing new research methods, tracking groundwater inflows, and learning about needle ice.