Dan Preston is an Assistant Professor of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology at Colorado State University. He conducts research at Hopland REC.
What led you to become a biologist?
I have been interested in biology since I was young, especially in plants, reptiles, and fish. I continued these interests into college, where I had some excellent mentors who helped me get started as a researcher. I've found that studying ecology allows me to spend time outdoors in amazing places, while also working with bright and motivated students to answer interesting questions. I've enjoyed this combination and have stuck with ecology as a career.
What brought your work to Hopland REC?
In graduate school, I was working on questions related to amphibian disease ecology and nonnative species in aquatic ecosystems. Hopland REC was a good place to research these topics because of the abundant ponds and wetlands, as well as the fantastic staff who provided us with support on our projects. It was also a fabulous place to spend the summer because the bass fishing was off the charts good in the pond near the dormitory!
What do you hope to learn from your research at Hopland REC?
I'm not actively working at Hopland REC at the moment, but our past research has explored a variety of different questions in aquatic ecology. For instance, we examined how nonnative mosquitofish affect native amphibians and invertebrates in Hog Lake (photo attached). We conducted many outdoor mesocosm experiments to understand how biodiversity affects disease from trematode parasites in both snails and amphibians (photo attached of our mesocosm tanks). We've also explored how trematode parasites affect the behavior of their host amphibians using experiments in the lab at Hopland REC.
What is your favorite part about conducting your research at Hopland REC?
The diverse wildlife and ecosystems and the fantastic staff working at Hopland REC are both real highlights. And the bass fishing!