Meet Dr. Carol Johnston
WE SAT DOWN WITH AU’S DR. CAROL JOHNSTON, A PROFESSOR IN THE SCHOOL OF FISHERIES, AQUACULTURE, AND AQUATIC SCIENCES.
Tell us about your background and current position.
I received a BS in Biology from Columbus State and an MS in Zoology from Auburn University before attending the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, where I completed a PhD in Ecology, Ethology and Evolution in 1993. I was the Southern Region fisheries biologist for the research branch of the USDA Forest Service in Oxford, Mississippi for 5 years before joining the faculty at Auburn.
Collecting fishes at Hatchet Creek. Photo Credit: Carol Johnston
Describe your current research activities.
Our research program at the Fish Biodiversity Lab blends conservation, behavioral ecology, and physiology in order to address questions regarding fish assemblage persistence, environmental stressors, and their physiological effects.
Conasauga River. Photo Credit: Carol Johnston
Here are some past and current project areas:
- We examined the effects of water availability on fish assemblage structure and how land use has changed stream hydrology
- Using environmental DNA, we identified both the occupancy and habitat use for some of the rarest vertebrates on Earth
- Our work with noise pollution has shown road crossing noise causes multiple problems for fishes, including hearing loss, increase in stress hormones, and having to greatly elevate acoustic signals when attempting to attract a mate
- A current climate change-related project is investigating thermal tolerance of Pygmy Sculpin (Cottus paulus). This species is found only in Coldwater Spring near Anniston, Alabama, where the water temperature has increased 2 degrees Celsius in the past few years. Correspondingly, numbers of adult sculpin have decreased. Since this species is restricted to the typical thermal environment of Coldwater Spring, and cannot adjust its range in response to the increase in water temperature, climate change could very well cause the extinction of this rare species.
Pygmy Sculpin (Cottus paulus). Photo Credit: Carol Johnston
Kurt Shollenberger with a Snail Darter (Percina tanasi). Photo Credit: Carol Johnston
In your career, what is the best advice you’ve been given?
“Pick your battles.”
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