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Paul Klerks

1977 B.S. (Ecology) Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands

1981 M.A. (Biological Toxicology) Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands

1987 Ph.D. (Ecology & Evolution) Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New YorK

My main research interests involve the long-term effects of environmental contaminants and other stressors on natural aquatic ecosystems. Please see my research web site for more detailed and up-to-date information. Here is the short version:

I am specifically interested in the development of resistance to stressors and the long-term implications of such adaptations. It has been well established in the field of pest control that natural populations often evolve a resistance to pesticides. However, it is not clear if the same will happen in natural populations of aquatic organisms exposed to environmental stressors. My laboratory's research takes three approaches to determining how likely it is that genetic adaptation to environmental contaminants will occur. First, research on populations inhabiting contaminated sites investigates if these populations are more resistant than conspecifics from relatively clean sites. Second, laboratory selection experiments determine if laboratory populations will respond to selection for an increased resistance. Third, genetic analyses investigate if resistance to environmental contaminants has a substantial heritability (thus asking if populations have substantial genetic variation for resistance that selection can act upon). Follow-up research also looks at other aspects dealing with the development of resistance, which affect the long-term success of adapted populations: underlying physiological mechanisms and the fitness costs associated with the adaptations.

While my laboratory's previous research has looked at the development of resistance to heavy metals, ongoing research investigates whether fish populations can adapt to elevated water temperatures (such as can be expected as a consequence of global warming), and whether this potential for adaptation is severely impacted in populations that have gone through a population bottleneck.

I am also interested in the ecological, evolutionary and ecotoxicological aspects of exotic species' invasions in North America. Research in my laboratory on zebra mussels has ranged from investigating their adaptation to the elevated water temperatures in the southern US, to the implications of the presence of this species on the environmental distribution of contaminants.

Other ongoing research in my laboratory addresses the effect of benthic invertebrates on the dynamics of metals in sediment and the exchange of metals between the sediment and the watercolumn. We are currently conducting this research with ghost shrimp from Tampa Bay and other Gulf of Mexico sites.


Feel free to contact me at this address:

Paul L. Klerks, Department of Biology, PO Box 42451, Lafayette, LA 70504 or Telephone: (337) 482-6356