Welcome to our new “Field Samples” series. We conduct so much cool research at the CFL, that it’s hard to keep track. So, each week, we’ll do a Q&A with a faculty member, post doc, or grad student and ask what they’ve been up to, where it’s taken them, and what they’ve learned. Today, Aaron Koning tells us about his research in Thailand.
Who are you, where are you from, and how did you get here?
My name is Aaron Koning, I’m a 4th year PhD Student with Peter McIntyre. I am from Grand Rapids, MI, but came to CFL by route of northern Thailand. I was living and working for a study abroad program for 4 years prior to coming to Madison.
Pretend we just boarded an elevator and you only have one-minute to tell me about your work….3,2,1 go!
My work is exploring two different stories. The first story asks the question of how changing land use practices, especially agriculture, are affecting aquatic ecosystems in Thailand.The second asks if freshwater protected areas I encountered in the field can be effective at conserving freshwater fish biodiversity.
What question did you answer or do you hope to answer? What other questions might your work lead scientists to ask?
For millennia, people in modern-day Thailand largely grew rice in paddy fields and a variety of crops in upland areas. Today, as markets have changed, there is an increasing push to expand agricultural land and to grow more nutrient-demainding crops like corn. I set out to see if recent land use change and changes in agricultural practices might be having an effect on the limitation state of algae, or alternatively, if the level of nutrients in Thai rivers were limiting algal accumulation. I used field experiments, measured water chemistry, and analyzed land cover data for my study regions to relate how different land use might have different effects on algal growth.
I also did fish surveys to see if the small, often community managed protected areas, or “no fishing” zones, I encountered were successful at protecting many of the regions fish species. Continue reading