Stream of consciousness: Aquatic Ecology with Marianne Denton

We are looking forward to a wonderful week with Marianne Denton (@Aastro_Limno) here at Real Scientists.

Marianne Denton has been developing novel ways to interpret and communicate the ecological status of Nevada’s streams, rivers, lakes and reservoirs since becoming the Bioassessment Program Coordinator for the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection. Exploring aquatic ecosystems is more than a career for Marianne – it’s a personal passion over a lifetime of playing in streams, turning over cobbles, catching trout and climbing cottonwoods. After being awarded her BS, Biology, at University of Nevada, Reno, Marianne completed her Masters’ research studying the effects of invasive bivalves on benthic community structure in Lake Tahoe and Lake Mead. Since 2011, Marianne has put tens of thousands of miles on her field truck sampling waterbodies throughout Nevada. The uniqueness and beauty of the western USA’s waters continue to inspire Marianne to find new ways to recognize and manage the challenges water professionals face as resource availability is unreliable and the consequences of climate change are realized. July 5 Hunter Creek 001

As always, here is what Marianne had to say about her life with science so far:

I’ve always loved discovery throughout my life and learning new things. My childhood was filled with experimentation, examination and exploration. I took the long way to higher education, and what I call my mid-life career change, I graduated with a BS, Biology and MSc, Interdisciplinary Environmental Science with a focus on aquatic ecology.

I grew up at Lake Tahoe and spent days playing in streams and exploring the shoreline for crayfish and other aquatic creatures. When I found out that I could actually be a professional stream ecologist studying benthic macroinvertebrates, my dream came true. There’s so much to know about water resources in the western USA that are applicable to other arid environments globally.

Essentially I take the information gathered in a bioassessments sampling (benthic macroinvertebrates, periphyton, water chemistry, physical habitat, riparian habitat, human influences) and determine the ecological integrity of streams and other water bodies. This is accomplished mainly through multimetric indices of the invertebrates and periphyton. I am also becoming very proficient at identifying cyanobacteria AKA harmful algal blooms.

The smallest of creatures can tell us about the biggest of problems. Clean water is a human right. While my work isn’t directly involved with human health, it is the first stage — the headwaters if you will — of water resources. People need to know that we all live downstream, and if we’re not taking care of our streams, lakes, wetlands and other waterbodies, eventually it will become a human health issue.

I am very active in planning, promoting and/or presenting science activities in my community. I was the initial planner, then developed a core group of about 15 scientists/science enthusiasts, for the Northern Nevada March for Science in April 2017. I also apply for, and twice approved for, NASASocial events. If a teacher or youth leader asks me to present about science, streams or space to their students/group, I will make time for it always.

I enjoy both chamber music and heavy metal. Every year I grow a sunflower garden for bees and birds. Fortunately, I live in an area where we have four beautiful seasons so I’m hiking in the forests, exploring the deserts, skiing when there’s snow and swimming when there’s sun. I run almost everyday. And here’s a weird one: I collect dresses. I have close to 200 dresses. It’s a compulsion.

Please welcome Marianne to Real Scientists!

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