Heather Galbraith

Biography

RESEARCH INTERESTS

The focus of my research is the conservation and restoration of native freshwater mussels and their host fish.  I also serve as a supervisory biologist and Branch Chief at the Northern Appalachian Research Laboratory.  Freshwater mussels are a diverse and critically imperiled fauna; however, much about their basic biology is still largely unknown.  Mussels provide a variety of functions to aquatic ecosystems, many of which are valued by humans (ecosystem services).  Because of their imperiled status and their ecological importance, both state and federal resource managers have interest in conserving and restoring healthy mussel populations and restoring declining populations. 

The goal of my research is to provide scientific information and decision support tools to resource managers.  My projects address the ecological flow requirements for imperiled freshwater mussels and their host fish, particularly the American eel; the consequences of American eel restoration on freshwater mussel populations; the role of chemical communication in American eel restoration; conservation genetics and genomics of imperiled freshwater mussel species; and valuing the ecosystem services provided by freshwater mussels.  I work collaboratively with researchers from academia, state and federal agencies, other USGS science centers, and other branches within Leetown Science Center. 

EDUCATION

  • Ph.D. Zoology, University of Oklahoma, 2009. 
  • M.S. Zoology, University of Oklahoma, 2004  (Caryn C. Vaughn, advisor). 
  • B.S., Ecology, Juniata College, 2001. 

CURRENT POSITION

My current position is a Research Fish Biologist, but I also serve as a supervisory biologist and Branch Chief at the Northern Appalachian Research Laboratory.  Our branch consists of a small team of highly qualified researchers including ecologists, behavioral biologists, modelers, and chemists.