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Russ Souchek

BA, MS, PHD
Environmental Science - Professor
Department: 
Environmental and Earth Sciences
Campus location: 
LI116
Campus Phone: 
402.826.8238

Education:  
B.A., Doane College
M.S., M.S., Ph.D., Texas A&M University
Further Study: University of Denver, 
Environmental Policy and Management.
 

Areas of Interest:

  • Aquatic Ecology – Physical/chemical characteristics of surface waters – lakes and streams.  Seasonal changes in lake plankton.
  • Air quality – Investigations of PM-10 (10 micron diameter) particulate air quality on the Doane campus.
  • Water quality – Investigations of nitrate levels in groundwater in the Crete and Wilber area. 
  • Ecology – Investigations of types and populations of insects and other animals present in local ecosytems including the Aldrich Prairie Research Site (APRS).
  • Animal Behavior – Alert behavior, territoriality, and use of runways by prairie dogs, territorial and parental behavior in cichlid fish.

Courses Taught:
Environmental Science, Environmental Geology, Environmental Science Research I, II, and III, Environmental Education, Introduction to Geographic Information Systems, Animal Behavior, undergraduate and graduate science teaching methods.

Description of Some Research Interests:
My research interests focus on environmental science, animal behavior, and ecology.  In animal behavior I am particularly interested in the behavior of prairie dogs and fish of the family Cichlidae.

Questions being researched include: 

  • How many prairie dog wards and coteries make up the colony at the Doane College Aldrich Prairie Research Site
  • How much does the temperature vary seasonally in prairie dog burrows? 
  • During which times of day and under what weather conditions do prairie dogs use their runways?
  • What are the blood characteristics of ground squirrels at the APRS?  This would include packed cell volume and white blood cell count.  Do these numbers vary with season? 

In the area of water quality, investigations are being conducted to test nitrate levels in drinking well water in the Crete and Wilber area.  This project is being conducted in cooperation with the Lower Big Blue River Natural Resources District.  High nitrate levels are of concern because of problems associated with the absorption of oxygen by the blood in infants, birth defects, and may also be a cancer risk.  In addition, investigations include changes in physical and chemical characteristics, such as dissolved oxygen and phosphate levels at Olive Creek Lake with the use of our sampling boat. 

With regards to air quality, research is being conducted to test the levels of PM-10 (10 micron diameter) particulate matter in the air on the Doane campus.  Particulate matter can increase the susceptibility to respiratory infections and can aggravate existing respiratory diseases, such as asthma and chronic bronchitis.

Regarding cichlid fish, work primarily revolves around the readily available convict cichlids.  These are common aquarium fish and display many aggressive, territorial, and reproductive behaviors.  Using timing software, investigations include the effects of temperature and caffeine on aggression and territoriality during the rearing of young. A future project involves the use of a night vision monocular, to test the hypothesis that light intensity affects aggressive behavior. 

Find out more about these environmental projects at the Environmental Science page.
 

Activities:

Memberships:

  • Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences
  • National Science Teachers Association
  • Society for Conservation GIS
  • Animal Behavior Society

Sabbatical:
I participated in the Visiting Scientist Program at the University of Nebraska Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies (CALMIT).  During this sabbatical I explored applications of electronic mapping technologies, such as global positioning systems (GPS) and geographic information systems (GIS), to environmental science, ecology and animal behavior.