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Aquatic Science Group Honors UW Ph.D. Student

January 19, 2016
head portrait of woman
Erin Hotchkiss

A recent University of Wyoming Ph.D. graduate was honored for her research into the metabolism of aquatic ecosystems.

Erin Hotchkiss, now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Quebec in Montreal, received the 2016 Raymond L. Lindeman Award from the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO). The award honors a scientist of 35 years of age or less for an outstanding peer-reviewed, English-language paper in the aquatic sciences.

The paper, “High rates of daytime respiration in three streams: Use of δ18OO2 and O2 to model diel ecosystem metabolism,” was written while she was a student in UW’s Program in Ecology. Robert Hall Jr., professor in UW’s Department of Zoology and Physiology, was the co-author.

The award will be presented at the ASLO 2016 Summer Meeting in Santa Fe, N.M., June 5-10.

ASLO says the paper contributed significantly to the understanding of aquatic ecosystem metabolism and, in particular, the relative importance of daytime and nighttime respiration in freshwaters.

Despite decades of exploration, many of the underlying assumptions in investigations of ecosystem metabolism have remained untested. Hotchkiss’s paper directly tested one such assumption: that respiration rates are constant over a 24-hour period.

Hotchkiss took an innovative approach to challenge this assumption using oxygen isotopes to estimate variation in respiration. Her combined field and modeling study provides perhaps the strongest empirical evidence to date demonstrating major differences between daytime and nighttime oxygen cycling in aquatic environments.

“Metabolism is a core property of aquatic ecosystems, but some key assumptions about measuring it had been untested prior to this paper,” says Jim Elser, ASLO president. “Erin’s sophisticated approach to understand the two-way movement of oxygen between water bodies and the atmosphere is critical to improving our understanding of ecosystem dynamics in streams.”

ASLO is an international aquatic science society founded in 1948. For more than 60 years, it has been the leading professional organization for researchers and educators in the field of aquatic science.

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