Urban Freshwater Ecology

The number of watersheds that are characterized by urban development is increasing globally. Urban freshwater ecosystems frequently experience reductions in native biodiversity and modifications in ecological processes; yet, they continue to provide essential ecosystem services including stormwater drainage, drinking water, and freshwater fisheries. Urban ecology research in the Capps Lab will focus on understanding the synergistic links among urban watersheds, biogeochemical processes, and freshwater organisms around Athens and Atlanta in Georgia and in the Grijalva-Usumacinta Watershed in Chiapas and Tabasco, Mexico.

We are developing new projects with the Rosemond and Wenger Labs at UGA, the city of Athens, and the Upper Oconee Watershed Network to monitor and study interactions between water infrastructure and urban stream ecology in the Oconee River.

Pilot work for the Mexican research was funded by the National Science Foundation to begin a new, international collaboration studying the influence of urbanization on freshwater fish communities and energy and nutrient dynamics. This work is continuing through collaborations with colleagues including Courtney Murdock from UGA, Allison Pease from Texas Tech University, and Manuel Mendoza Carranza, María Mercedes Castillo Uzcanga, and Ariane Dor  from El Colegio de la Frontera Sur in Villahermosa and in Tabachula. Specifically, we will be focusing on linkages between urban water infrastructure and freshwater community and ecosystem ecology.

The Capps Lab is also initiating a  research program in Atlanta with Art Benke, Carla Atkinson, and Emma Rosi-Marshall using historical data to predict long-term changes in urban freshwater communities. Furthermore, we are beginning to explore the coupled natural and human system dynamics of urban stream ecology, water infrastructure, and human health and well-being in the Proctor Creek Watershed with Jenn Rice, Kyle McKay, and Brian Bledsoe of UGA and colleagues in the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council. Pilot work for this study was funded through the Center for Integrative Conservation Research at UGA.