Research in the ISU Limnology Lab
Research in the Wilkinson Lab falls along the continuum of curiosity-driven (basic) to use-inspired (applied). Our research has two major themes: ecological resilience and nutrient dynamics in lakes. We use a combination of comparative surveys, ecosystem experiments, and time series to investigate patterns and controls on aquatic ecosystem function.
Carbon Cycling in Lakes
Aquatic ecosystems can be hot spots for production, decomposition, burial, and flux to the atmosphere of carbon. We are interested in understanding how presses such as eutrophication and climate change in addition to pulses such as storm events affect carbon cycling dynamics in lakes.
Nutrient Dynamics and Harmful Algal Blooms
We are working to understand the nutrient and environmental conditions that promote harmful algal blooms (HABs) in lakes and predict the occurrence of toxic blooms. Additionally, we are interested in quantifying the impact of management efforts on water quality and HAB occurrence in downstream recreational water bodies.
Early Warning Indicators of Regime Shifts
While many ecological changes are gradual, some large changes, or regime shifts, occur more abruptly and seemingly without warning. We are developing statistical early warning indicators of regime shifts, such as the onset of harmful algal blooms, as a management tool for lakes and reservoirs.
Resilience and Restoration
Lake restoration is an intensive and expensive process, especially given that it is not always successful. We are interested in understanding the role that resilience plays in restoration success. More specifically, we are identifying what mechanisms confer or deter from lake resilience and how this information can be applied and monitored in a restoration context.