Wright emphasizes importance of watershed ecology

February 10, 2014

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Watershed Ecology

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — For 13 years, University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s Dr. Kristopher Wright has been paying close attention to the streams in Southwest Wisconsin.

Wright, a professor of biology at UW-Platteville, received his Bachelor of Science degree in zoology and limnology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his Master of Science and Doctorate of Science in fisheries science from Oregon State University. He has been looking specifically at Wisconsin watershed ecology and how the streams in Southwest Wisconsin are recovering after years of disturbance from various factors such as change in agriculture and weather.

“We’re concerned about what happened in the past because we’ve done a lot of things that have influenced our streams,” said Wright.

Over the years, Wright has put a considerable amount of time and resources into collecting information from streams. He studies certain stream systems before changing the management practices. He then tracks those management systems over time to see how those management practices have influenced the streams. He also spends time considering all the other factors that influence streams in Southwest Wisconsin. “Everything that influences a particular stream is influenced by everything that happens uphill from there, which is basically watershed,” he said.

When he is not out studying the streams or teaching in the classroom, Wright is in the lab going over the details of the items that have been collected. One of the things he’s interested in is to what extent the watershed directly affects the streams’ health at any particular site. “If you just modify the stream, but don’t do anything else to everything else up there, are you really fixing it or are you just putting a band-aid on it?”

Wright has high hopes for the streams of Southwest Wisconsin. “Are we ever going to get the streams back to how they used to be hundreds of years ago? Probably not. Can we get them in better shape than they are? Yes,” he said.

Contact: Dr. Kristopher Wright, College of Business, Industry, Life Science and Agriculture, (608) 342-1689, wrightk@uwplatt.edu

Written by: Carly Willman, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1194, willmanc@uwplatt.edu

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