Research in a Living Laboratory: Terrestrial linkages to pond ecosystems in the Mount St. Helen’s National Volcanic Monument

As climate change alters communities in complex ways, water bodies are projected to experience profound adverse effects, particularly aquatic systems in higher elevation and mountainous regions. Warmer temperatures decrease the snow cover, resulting in increased runoff of nutrients in these mountain freshwaters, altering the habitat of zooplankton communities and fracturing the food web. The slow reestablishment of deciduous and coniferous vegetation in the Mount St. Helen’s National Volcanic Monument provides a resource-limited environment to study how the reintroduction of terrestrial vegetation influences aquatic communities. Ponds created by the 1980 volcanic eruption’s debris avalanche provide the unique opportunity to fill knowledge gaps in our understanding of terrestrial-aquatic linkages. Assessing the effects of certain organic matter and zooplankton community change as a result of a syndrome called “brownification” could provide valuable understanding of the response to climate change and ecological patterns, and insights into how to protect these critical freshwater habitats better.

About the Speaker

The speaker standing outside with scientific sampling equipment
Katey Queen
WWU ESCI MS candidate

Katey Queen (she/her) is a graduate student at Western Washington University in the College of the Environment, Department of Environmental Science. She grew up in Kirkland, Washington, motivated by the resilient and intricate connections of natural ecosystems and the climate crisis, Katey is drawn to understanding PNW terrestrial and aquatic community ecology. She has led field and laboratory projects at the Institute for Watershed Studies, contributing to the Lake Whatcom Monitoring Project and regional watershed studies that provide undergraduate learning and work. Katey’s research collaborations and thesis have allowed a diverse group of undergraduate students the opportunity to join her in the remote and harsh environments of Mount St. Helen’s. She attended the University of Washington Bothell (2020) B.S. Biology and has a previous career in veterinary medicine. Katey’s non-traditional path to graduate school and life experiences have inspired her to approach ecological research holistically and integrate transformational leadership into her scientific practice. 

Environmental Speaker Series

The Environmental Speaker Series is hosted by the College of the Environment at Western Washington University.

The Series is free and open to the public. Talks are held each Thursday at 4:30 pm in Academic Instructional Center West room 204 - AW-204. Talks will also be streamed via zoom. Register with the Alumni Association for the zoom link. Paid parking is available in lot C.

Learn more about the Environmental Speaker Series
Subscribe to the Email List