Jay Nelson

Photo of Jay Nelson Professor
Towson University
Department of Biological Sciences
Towson University
Towson MD, Maryland 21252-0001
Email: jnelson@towson.edu
Phone: 410-704-3945

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Research Disciplines: Research Interests:

Hypoxia tolerance in moronid fishes, physiological performance under hypoxia in moronids, Urbanization effects on stream cyprinids, urban heat island effects on urban fishes forcasting climate change effects, Arctic charr living in Icelandic thermal waters forcasting climate change effects

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Biographical Sketch

Broadly stated, my research interests are to understand how the environment controls life processes in fish and how fish can respond to environmental change, especially those enacted by human activities. Climate change and other anthropogenic factors are altering fish habitat across the globe. These include, but are not limited to, the warming of waters, ocean acidification, expansion of hypoxic and anoxic dead zones, changing freshwater hydrology and altered ocean currents. How fish respond physiologically and behaviorally to these changes will determine which fishes survive the opening of the newest geological age, the Anthropocene.  My work in this area started as an undergraduate at the University of Washington when I published my undergraduate research on the effects of acid rain on developing fish. My Ph. D. work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison focused on how fish from naturally acidic lakes thrived there; work still relevant today as concerns over global ocean acidification grow. My post-doctoral work in Germany and Canada concentrated on high carbon dioxide in the water and using fish exercise and metabolic performance as indicators of how well fish can potentially do in an environment (fitness parameters). My current research is following three separate paths to continue to understand how fish fare in altered environments. One direction looks at hypoxia tolerance in juvenile European sea bass, striped bass and white perch and how these fish function under the hypoxia they encounter in their environments. I am also very interested in how future changes in flow and temperature brought about by climate change will influence fish populations. I am currently examining this by investigating how stream minnows in Maryland deal with progressive urbanization, but I have also studied Arctic charr in Iceland that have lived in geothermally warmed waters. I have an active research program that involves students and is international in both its scope and recognition. I have supervised over 55 undergraduate research students and 18 Master’s students and conducted research in 6 different countries and collaborated with scientists of 14 different nationalities.


North Atlantic Treaty Organization International Research Fellow then Research Associate; Ocean Production Enhancement Network (OPEN). Dalhousie University, Dept. of Biology, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 4J1 Canada. Dr. R.G. Boutilier advisor.9/90-8/93.

Alexander von Humbolt Foundation Fellow. Max Planck Institut für Experimentelle Medizin, D-3400 Göttingen, Germany. Dr. N. Heisler advisor.9/88-8/90.

  • Ph.D., Zoology; minor Biochemistry.   University of Wisconsin-Madison. 12/88.
  • M.S., Zoology.  University of Wisconsin-Madison. 12/84.
  • B.S. with Distinction, Chemistry. University of Washington. 6/81.
  • B.A., Zoology. University of Washington. 6/81.

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