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Faculty Spotlight, Dr. Phil Bucolo

Dr. Phil Bucolo is an aquatic community ecologist with a primary focus on lower food web dynamics
specifically algal and aquatic plant ecophysiology and biogeochemical processes. He is interested in the
environmental processes that drive organismal interactions and how those interactions affect aquatic
community ecology. His lab is currently involved in a number of research endeavors that include
undergraduate collaboration. Loyola biochemistry major Jared Chan and Dr. Bucolo are quantifying
whether increased sunlight exposure to an overly shaded river in north Florida increases primary
production in a number of aquatic microenvironments (i.e. photosynthetic carbon fixation). They hope
that increases of photosynthesis will lead to increase abundance of the imperiled fish, the Okaloosa
darter, due to an ecological bottom-up effect; the more photosynthesis, the more energy up the food
web. Two other endeavors in his lab focus on the ecological consequences of invasive aquatic species
moving into local wetlands. Addison Ellis, a senior environmental science major and Dr. Bucolo are
investigating whether the invasive aquatic plant, Eurasian milfoil, is a preferred food source for local
mud crabs that inhabit the invasive plant as well as plant populations displaced by the milfoil invasion.
Another invasive species affecting local hydrology and community dynamics is the floating water
hyacinth. Kyle Whitfield, senior environmental science major and Dr. Bucolo are investigating how the
presence of water hyacinth affects algal communities in a City Park lagoon. They are also quantifying
changes in water quality as well the effects of the herbicide 2, 4-D used to eradicate the plant.

Future research endeavors focus on alterations to wetland hydrology in the Greater New Orleans area.
One way to combat flooding is to divert local runoff to vegetated bioswales which have already been
constructed in a number of neighborhoods. The Bucolo lab hopes to experimentally investigate effects
of bioswale initiatives on flood water reduction and subsequent water quality and urban heat changes
across a number of neighborhoods in New Orleans. Lastly, he was recently invited to join a Long Term
Ecological Research endeavor in collaboration with many local engineers and scientists investigating the
effects of natural and anthropogenic disturbances to local wetlands and subsequent hydrology
throughout greater New Orleans. His specific task is to quantify microalgal primary production, and
assess how these disturbances affect this process.