Austin Happel

Austin Happel
Shedd Aquarium · Haerther Center for Conservation Research

PhD - Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences

About

32
Publications
6,215
Reads
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322
Citations
Introduction
My current research focuses on how we can be better conserve, manage and restore freshwater aquatic ecosystems to promote thriving and diverse fish communities. I'm really interested in investigating what benefits restoration activities, such as Shedd’s floating island in the Chicago River’s “Wild Mile,” provide below the surface and how these benefits can be amplified in other areas. I'm also interested in understanding the role forest preserves have in structuring fish communities.
Additional affiliations
January 2019 - present
Shedd Aquarium
Position
  • Researcher
Description
  • My research program aims to better understand how management actions above the surface affect our friends below it.
August 2017 - December 2018
Colorado State University
Position
  • Instructor
Description
  • Instructor for FW204 Introduction to Fish Biology, FW260 Principles of Wildlife Management, FW301 Fish Ecology and Biodiversity, and FW401 Fisheries Science
August 2016 - December 2016
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Position
  • Instructor
Description
  • Creator and Instructor of a Stream Bioassessment field course designed to give students experience in: collecting both abiotic and biotic data, enumerating and identifying macroinvertebrates, and connecting stream conditions to organism within it.
Education
May 2013 - August 2017
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Field of study
  • Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
June 2010 - May 2013
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Field of study
  • Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
August 2006 - May 2010
Purdue University
Field of study
  • Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences

Publications

Publications (32)
Article
Throughout much of the globe, rivers are used to dispatch treated and untreated wastewater to the detriment of receiving ecosystems. Surprisingly, few studies directly relate water quality variables to fish community responses in receiving waterways on timescales that encompass the incremental and compounding improvements to wastewater infrastructu...
Article
Full-text available
Descriptions of shifts in biodiversity across time are desired for urban freshwater systems to better study ecosystem change and causal mechanisms. I document changes in fish diversity within the Chicago Area Waterways across 35 years using a battery of diversity metrics calculated on both abundance and biomass data. Has diversity of Chicago's wate...
Article
Full-text available
Stable isotope analyses offer a useful means for quantifying ecological niche dimensions, though few studies have examined isotopic response of an ecological community with respect to resource gradients such as fluctuations in prey availability. Stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes were measured for Lake Michigan salmonines and their prey collected...
Article
Full-text available
This paper synthesizes information on the at-sea ecology of ten anadromous lampreys, with emphasis on trophic ecology. The at-sea ecology of these lampreys concerns the juvenile stage, in which growth is most rapid. Anadromous lampreys can be categorized into four groups, based on feeding modalities: 1) scavenger (Caspian lamprey, Caspiomyzon wagne...
Article
Full-text available
How fish assemblages change over time in highly-modified urban rivers, where physical and chemical properties rarely mimic non-urban systems, has sparsely been documented. Data have been collected on fishes within the boundaries of the Chicago Metropolitan area routinely since the mid-1980's. Representing fish assemblages in one of the largest citi...
Article
Due to the perceived power of including many variables, models tracing predator prey relationships with fatty acid profiles have recently garnered much interest. Currently, Bayesian mixing models (FASTAR and mixSIAR) and a numerical optimization model (QFASA) have been established through various simulations and case studies. To date, validation ha...
Article
Full-text available
Lake Michigan salmon and trout populations are important species for recreational fisheries and food web management, and are largely supported through stocking efforts, with varying degrees of natural recruitment. Ongoing fisheries management of these salmonine populations is dictated by relationships between predator and prey abundance as well as...
Article
Full-text available
Cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) are widely cultured in state and federal hatcheries and private farms throughout the Western United States for stock supplementation or recreational fisheries. Cutthroat Trout culture techniques often rely on methods borrowed from the culture of closely related Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Even though...
Article
Full-text available
In Lake Michigan, the unintended introduction of invasive species (e.g., zebra mussel, Dreissena polymorpha; quagga mussel, D. rostriformis bugensis; round goby, Neogobius melanostomus) and reduced nutrient loading has altered nutrient dynamics, system productivity, and community composition over the past two decades. These factors, together with s...
Article
Fatty acid profiles increasingly are being used to quantify foraging patterns of consumers, but the associated interpretation may vary with the tissue type and its lipid content. For salmonids, lipid deposits can be found in both dorsal and ventral (“belly flap”) areas of muscle tissues. However, it is uncertain whether belly flap and dorsal muscle...
Article
As technology advances and smartphone use continues to rise, so do the opportunities for communitymembers to collect valuable scientific data via their smart phones. While the iNaturalist project andphone application (app) are widely known and used, only a fraction (<1.5%) of the >26 million observa-tions logged to date represent fishes. To increas...
Presentation
A partnership of the John G. Shedd Aquarium’s Kayak for Conservation program and the Urban Rivers organization has created new “floating” islands to replace the habitat and give citizen scientists an opportunity to help with the project and its research. These artificial “islands” are anchored to the river’s edge and bottom, providing a base for pl...
Article
Full-text available
1. Evidence of black spot inducing trematode pathogens was seen in four fish groups. 2. Prevalence of black spot symptoms were more common in southern Ontario, CA. 3. Results do not seem biased by citizen scientists compared to biogeography. 4. Citizen science data can provide novel insights for disease ecology. 5. A novel and preliminary venture i...
Article
Full-text available
Techniques that biochemically trace foraging habits of predators rely on the assumption that intra-specific variation in prey species is smaller than variation among them. At the same time, these techniques often show that diets can induce drastic changes in the biochemical profiles of prey species, especially across different ecosystems. We tested...
Article
Full-text available
Fatty acids (FA) are increasingly being used in ecology to qualitatively infer diets of consumers. Analysis of FA data requires standardization to express FAs either in mg g-1 lipids, mg g-1 tissue, or as percentages of the total mass of FAs. Additionally, various transformations (square root, arcsin, log(X+1), log-ratio, etc.) are often used to di...
Article
Full-text available
Despite long-term efforts to restore lake trout populations in the Great Lakes, they continue to experience insufficient recruitment and rely on hatchery programs to sustain stocks. As lake trout reproductive success has been linked to diets, spatial heterogeneity in diet compositions is of interest. To assess spatial components of adult lake trout...
Article
Full-text available
Fatty acid profiles are used in food web studies to assess trophic interactions between predator and prey. The present study provides the first comprehensive fatty acid dataset for important prey and predator species in Lake Ontario. Three major prey fish (alewife, rainbow smelt, and round goby) were collected at three sites along the southern shor...
Article
Full-text available
Despite being a “top predator”/parasite in the Great Lakes, knowledge of sea lamprey feeding ecology remains hindered by methodological constraints. Particularly, our knowledge of sea lamprey dietary habits is likely biased as it relies primarily on wounding rates of commercially and recreationally caught fish. Biochemical methods provide a means t...
Poster
Full-text available
Maternally derived nutritional deficiencies are thought to limit native Lake Trout recruitment in the Great Lakes by reducing juvenile survival. Lake Trout generally remain within a discrete area (<60 km2). Since reproductive success is linked to diet composition, spatial variability in prey consumption is of interest. Observed stomach contents mea...
Article
Understanding trophic interactions of non-native species is a key step in elucidating their ecological role in recently invaded systems. The benthic fish species round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) has successfully established in aquatic systems across the world, with abundances increasing dramatically over relatively short time periods. Though thi...
Article
Full-text available
It is relatively well-known that fatty-acid profiles of consumers reflect their diets. However, with fish, controlled studies that trace fatty-acid profiles of natural prey into consumers are lacking. We asked whether lake trout (Salmonidae: Salvelinus namaycush) fatty-acid profiles reflect diets at 4, 8 or 14 weeks after feeding began. We also eva...
Article
Full-text available
Accurate diet estimation has long been a challenging issue for researchers investigating predators due to constraints associated with stomach content analyses. Fatty acid signature analysis offers an alternative avenue to study long-term diet trends in consumers. Despite the wealth of experiments involving fatty acids of fish and their diets, few h...
Article
Full-text available
On-going ecosystem alterations within Lake Michigan have drastically transformed species interactions and food-web assembly. Description of trophic interactions across broad spatial regions is likely necessary to fully appreciate the structure of this emerging food web. Spottail shiners, Notropis hudsonius, are numerically abundant in the nearshore...
Article
Full-text available
Describing food web structure through either direct or indirect diet analysis is often a fundamental step in elucidating ecosystem dynamics and developing resource management goals. The present study examines spatial trophic connections in an opportunistic forager, juvenile yellow perch (Perca flavescens), through the concomitant use of stomach con...
Conference Paper
Quantitative estimates of trophic interactions provide valuable information on how food webs respond to perturbations. Recently, fatty acid signatures have been used to estimate dietary proportions of prey species for a variety of organisms in both wild and laboratory settings. Often these models must rely on the assumption that regardless of seaso...
Poster
Full-text available
Hallenbeck*, S., Happel, A., Czesny, S. and Rinchard, J., 2015 (poster presentation). Dietary transfer of fatty acids in lake trout. 2015 Annual Meeting of the New York Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, Lake Placid (New York, USA), February 4-6, 2015.
Conference Paper
Accurate diet estimation of economically important fish species provides information on: potential contaminant sources, prey base changes, and recent habitat preferences. Macro-histological data carry well know impediments, thus work towards circumventing these shortcomings using biochemical methods has become popular. Mixing models have provided q...
Poster
Full-text available
Stratton*, L., Pattridge, R., Rinchard, J., Czesny, S. and Happel, A., 2014 (poster presentation). Dietary effects on lake trout fatty acid signature. 2014 Annual Meeting of the New York Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, Geneva (New York, USA), February 5-7, 2014.
Poster
Full-text available
Pattridge*, R. Kolb, C., Rinchard, J., Czesny, S. and Happel, A., 2014 (poster presentation). Dietary transfer of fatty acids in juvenile yellow perch. 2014 Annual Meeting of the New York Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, Geneva (New York, USA), February 5-7, 2014.
Poster
Full-text available
Little is known about the sexual demographics of the shovelnose sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus platorynchus) population in the upper Wabash river. We characterized sex ratios and the degree of sexual maturity of 64 shovelnose sturgeon captured in April of 2008 using dissection and histology. Gonads and livers were weighed for calculation of gonado (GSI)...

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Projects

Project (1)
Project
With over 70% of flow controlled by wastewater effluent, and over 75% of it man-made, the Chicago Area Waterways represent unique urban freshwater systems. At Shedd we are seeking to better understand how this system operates so we can make better informed management decisions. Leveraging data collected for monitoring and early invasive species detection, we can investigate historic trends in fish populations and communities as well as relate species diversity to landscape features such as shoreline type.