Meet Marybeth Brey
Marybeth Brey won first-place honors in the Natural Resources category at this year's Graduate Student Research Symposium for her poster presentation entitled, Quantifying the Effects of Introduced Species on a Reservoir Food Web. She is a fifth year doctoral student in Biology at NC State and expects to graduate this December.
Brey's interest in biology and the environment stems from growing up on Lake Superior. Originally from Eagle River, Michigan, she ". . . fell in love with the idea of working on the water and outside." She also saw the way invasive species have changed the Great Lakes, which further peaked her interest in understanding how aquatic species -- specifically fish -- could change ecosystems.
In college, Brey earned her B.S. in Biology from Central Michigan University and continued her education at Eastern Illinois University where she received her master's degree also in Biology. She says that when she interviewed for the doctoral program at NC State, she felt "at home." Not only did she find an interesting project with an extremely supportive lab group, but she says that her advisors, Dr. Jim Rice and Dr. Derek Aday, are ". . . passionate about what they do and have an excellent reputation both in and out of the state." Brey knew that she'd be challenged and get a great education. Another "plus", she says, is that the weather here is far better than in Michigan!
Brey's doctoral research expands on how introduced aquatic species have the potential to alter lake and reservoir systems. Introduced species can cause habitat destruction, declines in native species, and modification of community structure. In order to study the impact of introduced species (white perch, alewife, flathead catfish, and spotted bass) on reservoir communities in North Carolina, Brey used multiple approaches including ". . . direct diet analysis, diet overlap indices, stable isotope analysis of fish muscle, and ecosystem modeling." Further research will include populating a computer model based on the Lake Norman ecosystem with diet analysis and fish biomass estimates in order to predict further impacts of introduced species on reservoir systems.
Brey says that the impact of introduced aquatic species and their impact on the ecosystem is a worldwide problem: "The effects of introduced species are not only a concern for the North Carolina public and the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, but for fisheries and wildlife agencies internationally as well." Her research group works closely with local wildlife agencies to provide needed information for lake and reservoir management. But they also hope that their results will get to ". . . agencies and stakeholders outside of North Carolina dealing with similar management concerns."
When not researching and helping to stabilize the environment, Brey enjoys 'throwing' pottery, mountain biking, playing volleyball. And she says that she has ". . . a major obsession with traveling!"
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