Casey Whalen, Fifth Year Masters
My biological interests lie in the fields of ecology and evolution. I am interested in field research; particularly in freshwater stream ecology. I began my fieldwork on Massachusetts freshwater habitats the summer of my sophomore year as an assistant to Danielle Mucciarone, a student in the masters program in Environmental Science and Policy at Clark. Danielle was conducting an ecological assessment of Carter Pond at the Rock House Reservation for The Trustees of Reservations under the guidance of Dr. John Baker. This opportunity offered me experience in the field, in the collection of aquatic samples and in identification of everything from dry and aquatic vegetation, macroinvertebrates, fish and plankton.
The following spring semester I began working on my own research with Dr. Baker. We are taking inventory of the Unionidae, freshwater mussels (clams), present in the East Branch Swift River and its tributaries. For the most part, this means that I get credit for playing in beautiful streams in equally beautiful Massachusetts forests! I am currently completing a whole system survey (I hope by June). I will then choose one or two sites with dense mussel aggregations and evaluate population level phenomena such as habitat preference, density and size frequency distributions of the mussels. Very little is known of the biology of most freshwater mussel species including those found in central Massachusetts. We hope this will provide the foundation for conservation of these important members of stream communities, and that the work will enable me to complete a BA/MA degree in spring of 2010.
Outside the lab: I am also a studio art major working mostly with illustrations, though I dabble in other media as well. I am on the Clark Frisbee team as well as being on teams in several other leagues in the Boston and Worcester areas. I volunteer at the ARTichoke food CO-OP in downtown Worcester when I have time.