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School of Environment and Natural Resources


Research on fishes of greatest conservation need receives recognition

Dec. 11, 2023
Maddie Wilson, a Forestry, Fisheries, and Wildlife major with her award-winning poster at the 2023 Southeastern Fishes Council 49th Annual Meeting

Maddie Wilson, an undergraduate student in the School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR) at The Ohio State University presented a poster at the Southeastern Fishes Council (SFC) and won second place in the poster competition.

The award-winning poster presented findings of conservation research to reintroduce the Tippecanoe Darter (Nothonotus tippecanoe) in Ohio.  The Tippecanoe Darter is listed as an Ohio Species of Concern. Find out more about this designation here

Under the direction of Brian Zimmerman, a senior research associate in the SENR and co-author of A Naturalist’s Guide to the Fishes of Ohio, and SENR Associate Professor Lauren Pintor, Wilson engaged in summer fieldwork that included translocation and surveys of the Tippecanoe Darter to different river systems in the state to aid in their recovery.  

Three people in water holding a net and bucket. Two people in a boat on water.
Summer fieldwork with SENR's Brian Zimmerman and Maddie Wilson.

"Having the opportunity to be involved with these projects and seeing the success of the reintroductions first-hand was really so special," said Wilson. "I am really lucky to work with this data." Wilson is part of the Honors Program at The Ohio State University. 

A life of hunting for fish - Why aren’t specific species of fish here? 

The data Wilson referenced is part of a longstanding passion Zimmerman has had since his senior year in high school – over two decades ago – to "keep track of everything" he has caught which has catapulted him as a leading researcher in fish distribution and non-sport fish recovery in Ohio and an expert in leading field work to engage and expose field crews to a diversity of survey and fish sampling techniques.  

Zimmerman presented at the SFC on reintroduction outcomes associated with several of Ohio’s fishes of greatest conservation need and the five translocation projects that have been conducted so far and what is planned for the upcoming season. 

Brian Zimmerman presenting an oral presentation with a slide on the screen.

The research will help to inform other reintroduction management efforts by creating vital knowledge of the relationship between reintroduction success and fish diversity and help to grow professionals interested in working in fisheries. 

Connecting students to fisheries research through the classroom and beyond 

Wilson originally joined SENR with a different major but shared a lightbulb moment that sparked a change in major. 

Introduction to Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife, a course offered through SENR and taught at the time by Dr. Pintor set Wilson on a new path – one where she was able to explore and cultivate her interest in fish and water – and the opportunity to work with Zimmerman and natural resource professionals from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, which Wilson describes as "transformative."  

Funding for the research is provided by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife and the Ohio Biodiversity Conservation Partnership and made possible through the engagement of many partners. 

Source: Maddie Wilson and Brian Zimmerman