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Caryn C. Vaughn

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Caryn C. Vaughn

Presidential Professor of Biology

George Lynn Cross Research Professor


Ph.D., University of Oklahoma
M.S., University of Oklahoma
 B.S., University of Oklahoma
405-325-0513 (Phone)
405-325-6202 (Fax)
OBS 149

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curriculum vitae



My research focuses on the ecology and conservation biology of streams, in particular the functional roles of freshwater mussels, and in quantifying the ecosystem services provided by stream organisms. Freshwater mussels are one of the world’s most imperiled faunas, largely because their life history traits make them highly vulnerable to climate change, habitat destruction and alteration, and introduction of non-native species. Until recently, most work in mussel conservation focused on documenting and propagating the rarest species. However, most mussel species are declining and it is the common species that do most of the work in ecosystems. Over the past 20 years, integrative research in my lab has demonstrated that mussels are important “biofilters” that transfer energy and nutrients in aquatic food webs and even subsidize terrestrial ecosystems. The biophysical processes performed by mussels vary with species and environmental conditions, particularly flow and temperature, and are highest in the most diverse communities.

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Recent Publications

Lopez, J.W., T.B. Parr, D.C. Allen & C.C. Vaughn. 2020. Animal aggregations increase emergent plant growth at the aquatic-terrestrial interface. Ecology, e02126

Sansom, B.J., S.J. Bennett, J.F. Atkinson and C.C. Vaughn. 2020. Emergent hydrodynamics and positive density dependence in mussel covered river beds. Water Resources Research, DOI: 10.1029/2019WR026252

DuBose, T.P., C.L. Atkinson, C.C. Vaughn & S.W. Golladay. 2019. Drought-induced, punctuated loss of freshwater mussels alters ecosystem function across temporal scales. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution DOI: 10.3389/fevo.2-19.00274

Dubose, T.P., K. Ashford & C.C. Vaughn. 2019. Freshwater mussels increase survival of largemouth bass in drying pools. Ecology of Freshwater Fish DOI: 10.1111/eff.12508

Hopper, G.W., T.P. DuBose, K.B. Gido & C.C. Vaughn. 2019. Freshwater mussels alter fish distributions at fine spatial scale through habitat subsidies.  Freshwater Science 38:702-712, DOI: 10.1086/705666

Ferreira-Rodriguez, N., C.C. Vaughn & 46 additional authors. 2019. Research priorities for freshwater mussel conservation assessment. Biological Conservation 231:77-87.

Parr, T. B., C.C. Vaughn & K.B. Gido. 2019. Animal effects on dissolved organic carbon lability in an algal controlled ecosystem. Freshwater Biology DOI:10.1111/fwb.13438

Atkinson, C.L., B.J. Sansom, C.C. Vaughn & K.J. Forshay. 2018. Consumer aggregations drive nutrient dynamics and ecosystem metabolism in nutrient-limited systems. Ecosystems 21:521-535.

Castro, A.J., C.L. Atkinson, C. Baxter, J. Brand, M. Burnham, B. Egoh, M. Garcia-Llorente, J.P. Julian, B. Martin Lopez, A. Norstrom, F. Liao, C. Quintas-Soriano, K. Running & C.C. Vaughn. 2018. Applying place-based social-ecological research to address water scarcity: insights for future research. Sustainability 10, 1516; doi:10.3390/su10051516

Hopper, G.W., K.B. Gido, C.C. Vaughn, T.B. Parr, T.G. Popejoy, K.K. Gates & C.L. Atkinson. 2018. Biomass distribution of fishes and mussels mediates spatial and temporal heterogeneity in nutrient cycling in streams. Oecologia 188:1133-1144.   

Irmscher, P. & and C.C. Vaughn. 2018. Effects of juvenile settling and drift rates on freshwater mussel dispersal. American Midland Naturalist 180:258-272.

Popejoy, T., C.R. Randclev, T.J. Neeson & C.C. Vaughn. 2018. Prioritizing mussel beds to conserve based on similarity to the past and feasibility of protection. Conservation Biology 32:1118-1127.  

Sansom, B.J., J.F. Atkinson, S.J. Bennett, & C.C. Vaughn. 2018. Long-term persistence of freshwater mussel beds in labile river channels. Freshwater Biology 63:1469-1481. 

Vaughn, C.C. & T.J. Hoellein. 2018. Bivalve impacts in freshwater and marine ecosystems. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 49:183-208.

Vaughn, C.C. 2018. Ecosystem services provided by freshwater mussels. Hydrobiologia 810:15-27.