By Samiullah Khan
I was recently offered and readily accepted the co-chair elect position of the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON) Graduate Student Association (GSA), joining chair, Blaize Denfeld (Umeå University, Sweden) and co-chair Jonathan Doubek (Virginia Tech, USA). As a new member of the team, I would like to introduce myself and mention in brief my past and present professional and academic involvements.
I am a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, under the supervision of Dr. Marc Schallenberg and Dr. Kevin Collier (University of Waikato, Hamilton). My Ph.D. thesis is part of a national project “Enhancing health and resilience of New Zealand lakes.”
For the first two years of my Ph.D. research, I am working on quantifying biodiversity and food web responses to lake resilience. In the project domain, we are focusing on four subject lakes; lakes in the South Island are deep and eutrophic, and facing issues with invasive zooplankton species (Daphnia pulex) which has largely displaced the native species Daphnia carinata, while lakes in the North Island are shallow and facing problems of invasive fishes including common carp. We use lipids (fatty acids) as biomarkers along with coupled eDNA and CSIA (compound specific stable isotope analysis) to understand trophic interactions and to quantify energy pathways and food-webs complexity, stability and resilience.
My third year of research will focus on food webs biomanipulation techniques for enhancing ecological processes in lakes. We aim to determine mechanisms by which lake food-webs can be altered through careful pelagic food-web manipulation. For this purpose, we will conduct mesocosms and in-lake experiments to increase abundance of native zooplankton grazers and/or phytoplankton competitors and to decrease the abundance of zooplanktivorous fish particularly exotic species.
Prior to my recent involvement as a GSA co-chair elect, I have a history of participation with GLEON. I am a pioneer member of GLEON from Pakistan and was introduced and brought to this forum by a senior GLEONite from the University of Western Australia, Dr. Matt Hipsey, in 2009. My first GLEON all-hands-meeting was GLEON 10 in Torres, Brazil, in 2010. I also have had the honor of working with Dr. Martin Kainz in the WasserCluster-Lunz as a student/researcher and later as a local organizing committee member for the GLEON 18 all-hands-meeting in Gaming, Austria.
I have accomplished two Master of Science degrees, one in Environmental Sciences from the University of Peshawar, Pakistan and the other in Limnology and Wetland Management jointly taught by BOKU-University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna; Egerton University, Kenya; and UNESCO-IHE, Institute for Water Education, Delft, the Netherlands.
I have served World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) for nearly seven years (2007-2014) under the capacity of Senior Research Officer where my major responsibilities/ duties were to conduct limnological and ecological assessments of internationally important lakes (Ramsar sites) and other freshwater and marine ecosystems located in various ecoregions of the country. After joining GLEON in 2009, I aimed to establish at least one long-term lake ecological observatory in Pakistan but due to administrative, logistic and fiscal limitations it has yet to happen. I am still determined and hope that one day Pakistan will be able to contribute unique limnological information to the GLEON database.
Being a strong believer of team work, all-level-collaborations and networking, I am looking forward to serving the GSA and more importantly to learn from the GSA advisor, chair and co-chair, and all GLOEN members. I hope that I will prove right those who conferred me with the trust and responsibility to serve the GSA, in particular, and GLEON, in general.