Current Research Projects
Taxonomy, Systematics, & Population Genetics of elephant snails (Pollicaria) in Vietnam
Vietnam represents an important biodiversity hotspot for numerous species associated with limestone karsts. This is especially true for karst-associated terrestrial snails, many of which are known only from limited collections, are taxonomically challenging to identify, and have never been studied in the field or evaluated in an evolutionary context. Given that limestone karsts are recognized as one of the most imperiled habitats in Southeast Asia due to anthropogenic activities, discovery and documentation of these species is vital for conservation efforts. Elephant snails (Pollicaria: Pupinidae) are an ideal candidate for examining the distribution and population-genetic structuring of karst-associated species because their large size and distinctive shell-shape make them easily recognizable. This project examines population-genetic structuring among these eight locations and documents intraspecific shell-shape variation. The proposed objectives will directly contribute to conservation efforts in Vietnam focused on preservation of limestone karsts and associated flora and fauna.
Fish Biodiversity of the Nam Chan River Basin, Vietnam
In March and November 2015, researchers from the Vietnamese Academy of Science and Technology and The University of Alabama conducted preliminary surveys of freshwater fishes in the Hoang Lien-Van Ban Nature Preserve and Nam Chan River basin in northwestern Vietnam. Although this nature preserve is a recognized biodiversity hotspot in Vietnam for terrestrial taxa, aquatic taxa within the nature preserve and remaining river basin have never been surveyed despite development of multiple headwater hydroelectric dams in the nature preserve. We collected approximately 33 species of fishes from 15 locations in the basin. Within these collections are undescribed species of Rhinogobius (Gobiidae) and, possibly, Vanmanenia (Balitoridae). We are currently seeking additional funding to expand our collecting to headwater sites in the Van Ban basin, as well as the north-side of the nature preserve.