Date of Award

12-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Forestry and Environmental Conservation

Committee Member

Brandon K Peoples

Committee Member

Troy Farmer

Committee Member

Kyle Barrett

Abstract

The goals of this thesis are twofold, 1) to review the existing literature on positive interactions, and 2) to experimentally test the role of biotic context in a freshwater reproductive interaction. First, my co-authors and I have conducted a review of positive interactions in freshwaters to establish a direction for future research. By outlining case studies and causal mechanisms, we illustrate the diversity of positive interactions, and set the stage for a comprehensive look at the role of context in shaping interaction outcomes. Our research directive focuses on the value of both basic life history and experimental research, then using those findings to investigate these interactions under different contexts, in different levels of ecosystem structure, and at multiple geographic scales. Applications of positive interactions are discussed in regards to conservation, restoration, biological invasions, and in aquaculture production. Following this review, I experimentally investigate context dependency in the nest associative interaction between two stream fishes. By using three treatments of partner density while maintaining otherwise consistent conditions, shifts in interaction outcomes can be directly attributed to context dependency. Findings are incorporated into our understanding of this novel study system, and their contribution to broader ecological theory is discussed.

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