Fish, Aquatic, and Riparian Ecology

Research Project: 


Project Manager: 

David Walters
Colorado River Basin riparian ecology

The Aquatic Ecology and Contaminants Team at the Fort Collins Science Center investigates important ecological processes operating in aquatic and riparian ecosystems and how these processes are affected by human activities. We address questions through a combination of field studies in the natural world, laboratory experiments, and modeling. We work at multiple levels of biological organization ranging from cells through organisms, populations, communities, and whole ecosystems. Our goal is to provide sound science to support the management, conservation, and restoration of the Nation’s valuable aquatic resources. Our research focuses on four themes, human impacts on freshwater ecosystems, food webs, aquatic-riparian linkages, and contaminants. A common goal of our studies is to separate natural and anthropogenic factors influencing the characteristics of aquatic habitats and communities. In doing so, we focus on identifying the relationships among landscapes, habitat, water quality, and biological communities (fish and invertebrates), and how these relationships are altered by various stressors such as land use and climate change, invasive species, dams, and contaminants. Understanding these relationships is a critical step for managing or restoring ecosystems and the species that live in them. Virtually every aspect of our research benefits through collaboration with other scientists including geologists, geomorphologists, engineers, hydrologists, toxicologists, biogeochemists, geneticists, and modelers from USGS and other research institutions.