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School of Environment and Natural Resources


Graduate Exit Seminar - Jai Tiarks

Plan to join Jai Tiarks's graduate exit seminar on April 1, 2024, at 11:00 am in Heffner Wetland Building Room 128 or via Zoom. Jai will present, "Sight unseen: A glimpse into the visual ecology of an African cichlid fish in a changing world."

Abstract: Turbidity is increasing in freshwaters globally due to human activities and is known to affect visually-mediated behaviors in fish. As anthropogenic impacts continue to degrade aquatic environments, it is critical to determine how sensory systems are affected and how some species might cope with these changes. My dissertation research addresses how environmental change impacts several aspects of the visual ecology in an African cichlid fish. First, I investigated the visual morphology, gene expression, and the functional significance of visual detection thresholds in both wild caught fish found across environmental extremes and in fish reared under experimental conditions in the laboratory. Then, I behaviorally measured visual sensitivity to capture an ecologically relevant response to increasing turbidity. Lastly, I explored the effect of parasites and their impact on fish coloration and behavior. Taken together, the research in this dissertation highlights the complexity in how organisms respond to changes in the visual landscape. My work contributes to our understanding of the mechanisms underlying variation in visual abilities in a species that appears to be coping with human-altered sensory landscapes and contributes to growing knowledge of how animals respond to environmental change.

Advisor: Dr. Suzanne M. Gray