Rachael Finigan

Rachael Finigan

Rachael Finigan

PhD Student


Areas of Expertise

  • Aquatic Ecology
  • Population Ecology
  • Conservation


  • M.S. Biology - Western Carolina University
  • B.S. Biology - Allegheny College

Project Title: Understanding differences in Ohio reservoir Largemouth Bass populations

Project Description:

I am interested in how alterations to the environment impact aquatic populations, particularly fish populations. One such alteration is the construction of human created habitats (e.g., reservoirs), which results in a set of spatially distinct habitats set across a landscape. Understanding of how populations in these patches respond is often limited to the individual habitat patch that has been created, as opposed to the large landscape of patches. My dissertation seeks to understand how Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) populations differ across the Ohio reservoir landscape, which are built (upground reservoirs) or created by damming rivers (tributary reservoirs) and stocked with fish.

To address this, I will 1) use historical data from reservoirs across the state to describe patterns in Largemouth Bass life history traits, test for environmental correlates with those patterns, and group reservoirs based on these characteristics; 2) for selected lakes, design and carry out studies to understand effective population size to detect barriers to recruitment; 3) complete common-garden experiments to estimate relative effects of environment and genetics on early life growth and survival; and 4) estimate genetic relationships among Ohio populations of Largemouth Bass. Understanding if and how environmental variation is influencing the life history strategies and genetic landscape of these populations will provide information on how fish populations are impacted by human-created habitats, aiding in lake specific conservation and management decisions. 

Advisor: Libby Marschall

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