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by Shannon Davis-Foust last modified Aug 02, 2012 01:10 PM

Research and teaching interests - Shannon Davis-Foust

My Research Interests

My "official" research interests are in fisheries biology and aquatic ecology.  My Ph.D. research is on fish age and growth. My main focus is to correlate freshwater drum (Aplodinotus grunniens) growth patterns to environmental factors.  I don't rely on traditional fisheries methods such as back-calculations to assess fish growth because those methods employ growth models (e.g., von Bertalanffy growth functions) that tend to obscure annual variation in growth.  Instead, I use biochronology or sclerochronology (a branch of dendrochronology), which employs equations to create an annual growth index from growth increments. The resulting growth index can then be correlated to environmental variables.  So far I have established a strong correlation between the growth of freshwater drum in Lake Winnebago and regional temperatures.  In addition, there is a correlation between growth of large drum and zebra mussel (Driessena polymorpha) establishment.  Check out my display posters comparing archaeological to modern drum growth and correlating drum growth chronology to environmental factors.


Some of my future endeavors include (in an order of approximate importance): 1) cross correlate archaeological growth chronologies among Native American encampments to aid archaeological studies and also look for long term changes in growth trends, 2) a comparison study of mixed models to dendrochronology equations for developing growth chronologies, 3) develop a mixed model using observed fish lengths (rather than increment measurements) to obtain annual growth indices,  4) look for trends of increasing otolith weights at age over time (potentially caused by increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere), 5) examine fish growth rates and other life history traits at greater regional scales, 6) examine the elemental composition of otoliths  from habitats with known contamination (e.g. polychlorinated biphenyls), 7) examine hydroacoustic patterns of freshwater drum, and 8) assessment of dispersal and survival of fish larvae.  In the past I have estimated egg deposition by constructing and setting egg traps and larval dispersal by setting drift nets for lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) larvae.  


My Teaching Interests

I presently teach biology labs and environmental studies classes (please see the side bar for specific courses).  Ecology and environmental topics are my passion because everyone ultimately relies on natural resources for their well-being, yet today's society has become increasingly unappreciative of the importance of environmental protection. Ideally environmental education should start with elementary school children, but I do my best at the college level.  My greatest ambitions are to reconnect people with nature and raise awareness to environmental issues.  Green living doesn't mean you have to go live in a cave.  


Some of the environmental topics that I teach (and am interested in!) include (off the top of my head and in no particular order): water quality measurement, wastewater treatment, water privatization, water depletion, wetlands, solid waste management, recovery and recycling, using indices of biological integrity, macroinvertebrate identification, plant identification, bird identification, significance of biodiversity, climate change (with recognition that some believe it is an unsettled science), peak oil, alternative energy sources, natural resource management, invasive species, endangered species, indicator species, wildlife management, wolf reintroduction, honey bee colony collapse disorder, environmental impact measurement, sustainable living, problems and solutions in modern agriculture, soil properties, resilience versus efficiency, conservation ethics, writing skills, tactical communication, history of environmental studies, and more.


Rocky Mountains




University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Ph.D., “Bomb Radiocarbon Age Validation of Freshwater Drum and Using an Otolith Growth Chronology to Detect Ecological Relationships”  August 2012

Secondary area of concentration: Natural Resource Conservation

University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

M.S., Zoology-Ecology, January 2002

B.A., Biology-Zoology major, Spanish & Chemistry minors, January 1998


Davis-Foust, S.L., R.M. Bruch, S.E. Campana, R.P. Olynyk, and J. Janssen. 2009. Age validation of freshwater drum using bomb radiocarbon.  Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 138:385–396.

Bruch, R.M., S.E. Campana, S. Davis-Foust, M.J. Hansen, and J. Janssen. 2009. Lake sturgeon age validation using bomb radiocarbon and known-age fish. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 138:361–372.

Adler, G.H., A. Carvajal, S.W. Brewer, and S.L. Davis. 2006. First record of Didelphis albiventris (Didelphimorphia: Didelphidae) from Paracou, French Guiana. Mammalia 2006:319-320.

Adler, G.H., S.L. Davis, and A. Carvajal. 2003. Bots (Diptera: Oestridae) infesting a neotropical forest rodent, Proechimys semispinosus, (Rodentia: Echimyidae), in Panama.  Journal of Parasitology. 89(4): 693-697. 

Still no happy




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by Shannon Davis-Foust last modified Aug 02, 2012 01:10 PM