Ogeechee River Project


Project Title:
Assessment of Hydrological, Biological and Environmental Components of the Lower Ogeechee River Ecosystem


Ogeechee River Flowchart
The Ogeechee River Project is geared towards investigating ecological processes in this important watershed. The work of our research is meant to provide more than short-term monitoring of biogeochemical components in this river basin, but also to ensure a long-term holistic approach for research conducted on the Ogeechee River. The Ogeechee River Project consists of two research themes carried out by two distinct teams of researchers at Georgia Southern University and partner entities. One group from the Department of Geology & Geography at Georgia Southern is focused on atmospheric and terrestrial processes in the watershed while the other, from the Department of Biology at Georgia Southern in conjunction with the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy (SNSA) is focused on the in-stream processes and biological communities of the Ogeechee River.

This Supplemental Environmental Project was undertaken in connection with the settlement of an enforcement action taken by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division for violations for the Georgia Water Quality Control Act.


Geology and Geography Team

 Kelly_J150x250 Jacque L. Kelly, Ph.D., University of Hawaii-Manoa, 2012
Assistant Professor; Geochemistry, Subsurface Hydrology, Remote Sensing
 Reichard_J150x250 James S. Reichard, Ph.D., Purdue University, 1995
Interim Department Chair, Geology and Geography; Professor; Hydrogeology, Field Methods, Geochemistry
 Tu_W_250x225 Wei Tu, Ph.D., Texas A&M, 2002
Associate Professor; Geographic Information Science, Spatial Statistics, Spatial Database Management
IMG_3309-224x300 John T. Van Stan, Ph.D., University of Delaware, 2012
Assistant Professor;  Ecohydrology, Forest Biogeochemistry, Instrumentation Development

Biology Team

cohen225x150 Risa Cohen, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 2003
Professor Dept. of Biology; Aquatic Ecology; Toxicology
 Checo Colon-Gaud Jose C. Colon-Gaud, Ph.D., Southern Illinois University, 2008
Associate Professor Dept. of Biology; Aquatic Ecology; Invertebrate Ecology
 lewis225x150 Johanne M. Lewis, Ph.D., Memorial University of Newfoundland, 2008
Assistant Professor Dept. of Biology; Physiology; Environmental Stressors
 sittaramane225x150 Vinoth Sittaramane, Ph.D., University of Missouri, Columbia, 2008
Assistant Professor Dept. of Biology; Developmental Biology; Environmental Stressors
 vives225x150 Stephen P. Vives, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1988
Professor & Chair Dept. of Biology; Aquatic Ecology; Ichthyology
Graduate Students

1marina osier Marina Osier, B.S. Forestry, Iowa State University, 2013
1Jason Duff Jason Duff, B.S. Environmental Science, University of Southern Maine, 2013
1Byron Collins Byron Collins, B.S. Biology, Middle Georgia State College, 2013
1shauna tietze Shauna Tietze, B.A. Biology, Nebraska Wesleyan University, 2013
1Thomas Kuhn Thomas Kuhn, B.S. Biology, Kansas State University, 2012
Allison Lutz, B.S. Biology, Juniata College, 2015
1Stefan Petersen Stefan Petersen, B.S. Biology, Buena Vista College, 2012
1Beth Prier Elizabeth Prier, B.A. Biology, Bethany College, 2009
1CrayfishExpeditions_ECradd Elizabeth Craddock, B.S. Biology, Georgia Southwestern State University, 2014
1JulienBuchbinder Julien Buchbinder, B.S. Biology, Computer Science, University of Maryland, 2014
 AnnaWagner2 Anna Wagner, B.S. Biology, University of North Georgia, 2016
2015 Georgia Water Resources Conference in Athens, GA – Special Session on the Ogeechee River Basin (Select this heading to view abstracts)

Preliminary assessment of organic material flux in the Ogeechee River system: a Lagrangian perspective. Oscar Flite, Shawn Rosenquist, Matt Erickson, Chalisa Nestell, Kelsey Laymon, Nate Hobbs, Damon Mullis, Jason Moak

Summary and comparison of continuous sonde data from the Ogeechee and Savannah River Basins. Oscar Flite, Shawn Rosenquist, Matt Erickson, Chalisa Nestell, Kelsey Laymon, Nate Hobbs, Damon Mullis, Jason Moak

A Comparison of Macroinvertebrate Communities within Two Southeastern Rivers. Damon Mullis, Oscar Flite, Nate Hobbs, Jason Moak, Chalisa Nestell, Kelsey Laymon

Benthic macroinvertebrates colonizing leaf packs in the Ogeechee River near Rocky Ford: Contrasting assemblages between drought vs. wet years. Checo Colon-Gaud, V. Byron Collins, Tori Goehrig, and Kody Franks

Post fish-kill monitoring on the Ogeechee River. Thomas C. Kuhn and Stephen P. Vives

Evaluation of Ogeechee River water using Zebrafish as a Biomonitoring tool. Vinoth Sittaramane, Elizabeth Prier and Lan Nguyen

Effect of Tetrakis (hydromethyl) phosphonium chloride (THPC) on Zebrafish (Danio rerio). Lan Nguyen, Elizabeth Prier and Vinoth Sittaramane

Preliminary results of continuous water quality monitoring in the Ogeechee River*. Jason Moak, Nate Hobbs, Chalisa Fabillar, Matt Erickson, Damon Mullis, and Oscar Flite

Leaf Decomposition along a longitudinal gradient of the lower Ogeechee River*. Tyler Reeves and Checo Colon-Gaud

2015 Annual Meeting of the Society for Freshwater Science in Milwaukee, WI (Select this heading to view abstracts)

Macroinvertebrate community assemblages and leaf decomposition in three river basins of the Southeastern Coastal Plain. V. Byron Collins and Checo Colon-Gaud

2016 Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in Portland, OR (Select this heading to view abstracts)

Effects of rapid pH and salinity change on the physiology of a local estuarine fish species, Fundulus heteroclitus. Shauna Tietze and Johanne M. Lewis

2016 Meeting of the Southeastern Estuarine Research Society in Bluffton, SC (Select this heading to view abstracts)

Antibiotic and nutrient mixtures influence phytoplankton subsidies to coastal systems. Jason Duff and Risa Cohen

2016 Meeting of the Association of Southeastern Biologists in Concord, NC (Select this heading to view abstracts)

Combined effects of a flame retardant and ammonium on plankton community structure in blackwater pond mesocosms. Marina Osier and Risa Cohen

2016 Georgia – Alabama Chapter Meeting in Columbus, GA (Select this heading to view abstracts)

Fish community and health assessment in a blackwater system in Southeast Georgia. Thomas Kuhn and Stephen P. Vives

A Comparison of Benthic Macroinvertebrates Colonizing leaf, Wood, and Artificial Substrates in Two Southeastern Coastal Plain Rivers. Damon Mullis, Kelsey Laymon, Skyler Lamberth, and Checo Colon-Gaud

Consumer community structure along a ~200-km stretch of the Ogeechee River. Allison Lutz, Thomas Kuhn, Checo Colon-Gaud, James H. Roberts, and Stephen P. Vives

2016 Annual Meeting of the Society for Freshwater Science in Sacramento, CA (Select this heading to view abstracts)

Leaf decay rates and litter dwelling invertebrates in Georgia Coastal Plain river. Byron Collins and Checo Colon-Gaud

Macroinvertebrate community structure along a ~200 km stretch of the Ogeechee River. Allison Lutz and Checo Colon-Gaud

Publications (or scholarly activity)
Outreach Activities (workshops, training, educational programs)

M.S. Positions, Aquatic Biology, Georgia Southern University

We invite applications for two graduate research assistant positions (M.Sc.) in the Department of Biology at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA (, starting in Fall 2017. The RA’s will be a key component of a multi-investigator, and ultimately interdisciplinary, effort to study coastal plain rivers and surrounding ecosystems, particularly in relation to natural and anthropogenic disturbances. A large portion of the work will take place at multiple sites within the Ogeechee River Basin. Specifically, the RA’s will make possible a rigorous monitoring and assessment program by quantifying major consumer and producer communities and associated processes at the ecosystem level.  A major component of the project will include studies on how producer and consumer groups respond to environmental stressors. Developing this sort of “comprehensive monitoring and assessment program” is a priority research area for the project and for the region. RA’s will be expected to develop independent research projects in one the areas listed and under the supervision of project PI.

Dr. Risa Cohen ( Toxicology; Restoration and conservation

Dr. Checo Colon-Gaud ( Invertebrate Ecology; Aquatic Food Webs

Dr. Johanne Lewis ( Comparative Physiology; Environmental Stressors

Dr. James Roberts ( Freshwater Fish Ecology and Conservation; Fisheries Biology

Dr. Vinoth Sittaramane ( Aquatic and Developmental Toxicology using Zebrafish

Dr. Stephen P. Vives ( Ichthyology; Behavior and Conservation of Fishes

These activities will lead to the completion of MS degree in Biology. RA appointments are anticipated to be for 2 years (12-month appointments each year, encompassing fall, spring and summer terms).  Funding in the amount of $15,000 (+ tuition waiver) will be provided during each year of the appointment. For more information, visit the Biology Graduate Program.

Students interested in the position should contact the Biology Graduate Program Director, Dr. Checo Colon-Gaud ( as soon as possible. Application deadline is March 1st, 2017. Please include a statement of research interests and any or all of the following with your email – CV, transcripts and GRE scores (unofficial is ok at this time).

Ogeechee 1 Fish Monitoring Crew getting ready for quarterly sampling at Morgans’ Bridge
Ogeechee 2 Benthic Macroinvertebrates Crew collects samples new Rocky Ford Landing
Ogeechee 3 ORP graduate students get ready to paddle from Scarboro Landing to Rocky Ford with the Ogeechee Riverkeeper
Ogeechee 4 Fish Crew finds 23-lb grass carp during quarterly monitoring
Ogeechee 5 Habitat and water quality monitoring during quarterly sampling
Ogeechee 6 Outreach Activity during Ogeechee Riverkeeper Paddle Trip (photo courtesy of Jesse Demonbreun-Chapman; Ogeechee RiverKeeper)

Last updated: 7/11/2017

DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGY • P.O. Box 8042-1 • Statesboro, GA 30460 • (912) 478-5487