Participating Students - Elisabeth Lehigh Shirey

Elisabeth Lehigh Shirey
Western Michigan University
Enrollment Year: 2000
Email Address: libzie at
Atmospheric Mentor: Steven Bertman, Western Michigan University
Biosphere Mentor: Charles Ide, Western Michigan University

Research Topics
Influence of Changes in Atmospheric Composition on the Growth and Development of Aquatic Organisms

In order to accurately determine how the abiotic environment influences organisms and ecosystems, an interdisciplinary approach combining studies of atmospheric and biospheric conditions with chemical and biological studies would be highly advantageous.  Among the ecosystems that will be most affected by environmental change are aquatic ecosystems and the organisms that inhabit them. 

In order to understand the impacts of environmental contaminants on biological organisms and, ultimately, ecosystem and human health, it is important to conduct studies using animals that will be susceptible to and will accurately reflect environmental conditions.  Frogs represent an ideal species to conduct these types of studies.  Because they are both land and aquatic-based animals, frogs must have permeable skin, which allows them to act as "environmental sponges."  In addition to being useful indicators of environmental conditions, frogs are also an integral part of aquatic ecosystems.

Possible areas of study:
Effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 on embryonic frog survival, growth and development
Effects of tropospheric O3 on embryonic frog survival, physiology, growth and development
Effects of UV-B on ecosystem components at UMSB

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