Nicolette Zahner, who is working on a master’s degree in conservation biology and ecology, has earned a 2012 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program Fellowship for her study of mosquito production and food webs in mitigated vs. natural wetlands. A mitigated wetland is one created by humans or restored in a previous wetland location. The NSF will provide $126,000 a year per fellowship and can fund her for a total of three years. Most of the funding goes toward tuition and research costs; $30,000 of it is a stipend.
Zahner’s study, which she will conduct in the wetland areas and small lakes of Brevard County, will be of interest to landscape and population ecologists as well as wildlife and human disease researchers. The potential for disease-carrying mosquitoes, which breed in marshes, to increase their populations has implications for the spread of dengue fever, malaria, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, West Nile Virus and possible new diseases.