There is a lot we still don’t know about this Earth. Luckily, students and faculty at Missouri State University are trying to narrow the knowledge gap.
Nathan Dorff, who is working on his biology master’s degree, is one of those students.
About his research
Dorff studies hyporheic ecology, which looks at the ecology underneath and around streams.
“Water moves—I know, really profound stuff—and we can describe this movement in a variety of ways,” Dorff jokes.
There are three ways that water moves: upstream to downstream (longitudinal), when a stream overflows its banks (lateral), and the movement of water below the streambed surface (vertical).
Dorff studies the latter, vertical connectivity. He looks at where stream water and groundwater meet and interact. Specifically, he looks at the aquatic insects that live there.
This is an area that hasn’t been thoroughly researched, especially in the Ozarks. Knowing what is crawling below the surface means other discoveries can be made. For example, knowing what insects live there can eventually show how the hyporheic zone contributes to the food web.
By working on filling in the gaps, the eventual goal is to better use stream resources based on his findings.
“If we can quantify how productive the hyporheic zone can be in Ozark streams, it might help to inform management decisions in the future,” Dorff said. “Vertical connectivity is not something we typically consider when planning development or stream restoration projects.”
Dr. Deb Finn, assistant professor of biology, is Dorff’s adviser.
The Carl Morrow Graduate Scholarships
Because of Dorff’s research, he was awarded $1,000 from the Conservation Federation of Missouri.
He will use the funds to purchase equipment, take trips to the stream and possibly retain an undergraduate researcher.
The Carl Morrow Graduate Scholarships is in honor of Carl Morrow, a long-time conservationist and volunteer.
This scholarship goes to students who are pursuing degrees in natural resource management.