Hi! My name is Tiffany Lutz and I am a senior at Rutgers University currently studying Biology. For as long as I can remember I have been interested in the great outdoors. While growing up in South Carolina I was always finding ways to get my hands dirty outside and discover what lay just beyond our back door. After finishing at Rutgers I plan on applying to various Graduate Programs that focus on Ecology.
While I am interested in all living creatures, my main passion and focus is amphibians and reptiles. Thus, my project this summer at Hubbard Brook is observing if Brook Trout (Salvenlinus fontinalis) and Sunfish (Lepomis gibbosus) have any impact on Spring Salamander’s (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus) foraging and activity levels.
Salvenlinus fontinalis and Gyrinophilus porphyriticus are found in the same streams and as a result are constantly competing for the same energy and habitat resources. Their co-habitation disproves many of the ideas behind “Gause’s Law of Competitive Exclusion,” which states, “if two species are competing for the same resources and space, one competitor will always overcome the other, leading to extinction”
Lepomis gibbosus is not found in the streams with Gyrinophilus porphyriticus, but have recently been introduced to nearby Mirror Lake. It is well documented that non-native introduced species have led to a decline in amphibian populations in various areas around the country. My research hopes to prove that Gyrinophilus porphriticus would be at a great advantage if they could recognize these non-native fish as potential predators.
In addition, I am working on a side project where I am sampling four different streams for Brook Trout. For this project I am taking notes on their microhabitats and safely catching and marking them in an effort to track their movements within the streams.
I find it fascinating how two species can be vying for the essential same resources, but still manage to strike a balance in day-to-day life and coexist. I am looking forward to finding out the results! The research is keeping me busy, but also giving me tons of new experiences.