Our research investigates how species’ traits and environmental attributes interact to influence community and population structure of aquatic organisms.


Current Projects

Check back occasionally for more details and links to ongoing projects and resources!

Current areas of research interest in the Mims Lab include:

  1. Developing and testing traits-based approaches and multispecies assessments to prioritize regional management and conservation of freshwater species.

    • Through support from the U.S. Geological Survey and in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service, we are assessing the geographic rarity and life history traits of a suite of amphibians, reptiles, and freshwater fishes native to the U.S. Pacific Northwest in order to inform relative, intrinsic risk to a changing climate. The regional portion of this work is currently under peer-review, and we are now working on a pilot project in collaboration with USGS to apply these geographic rarity-based techniques to freshwater fishes at a national scale using USGS's Biodiversity Information Serving Our Nation (BISON) database.

    • We are collaborating with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to evaluate intrinsic versus extrinsic risk of Oregon's native freshwater fishes to a changing climate and landscape. Our goals include evaluating species distribution models (SDMs) developed with a wide range of data quality and availability that are typical for non-game species. This project aims to help guide prioritization of species monitoring, conservation planning, and multispecies management strategies that are challenging but essential at a regional scale.

  2. Evaluating risk and response of aquatic organisms to climate-driven spatiotemporal changes in intermittent aquatic habitat.

    • We are finishing a simulation-based study evaluating the response of a desert amphibian, the Arizona treefrog (Hyla wrightorum), to changes in aquatic habitat availability. In this case, we are simulating both the loss of breeding ponds (ponds that do not fill with water during the breeding season) as well as failed recruitment at ponds that dry too quickly for successful metamorphosis of H. wrightorum larvae. This study uses the simulation platform HexSim and leverages empirical data on the life history, habitat associations, and population genetics of this species in a distinct region of its distribution.

  3. Simulating the demographics and genetics of a reintroduction: the riverscape genetics of Bull Trout in the Pend Oreille River, WA, USA.

    • Successful reintroduction of formerly extirpated species often depends upon a combination of environmental, demographic, and genetic factors. Simulation-based approaches are a promising way to evaluate the independent and combined effects of these factors on the outcomes of various reintroduction and management strategies. In collaboration with a group of researchers throughout the U.S., we are completing a simulation study of bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) reintroduction to three watersheds of the Pend Oreille River system in northeastern Washington State, USA, where local extirpation of bull trout is linked to in-stream barriers, habitat degradation, invasive species and other factors. We've used an individual-based, spatially-explicit simulation platform (CDMetaPop) to evaluate how reintroduction strategies, life history variation, and the riverscape interact to influence the demographic and genetic characteristics of reintroduced bull trout populations.

    • Following development of our "demogenetic" bull trout model, we will soon begin a second project evaluating various barrier removal strategies. We will evaluate the effects of removal configuration and removal type (e.g., culvert versus major dam removal) on population connectivity, stability, and diversity of reintroduced bull trout.

  4. Additional exciting new research directions in the lab include evaluating the role of manmade ponds in aquatic and biological connectivity in arid systems and assessing species’ vulnerability to climate change across levels of biological organization, from genes to communities. Please check back from time to time for updates to our active projects!

The Mims Lab at Virginia Tech!

The Mims Lab at Virginia Tech!