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MLRC Partner Highlight: behavioral ecologist and watershed researcher, Cathy Bevier

Dr. Cathy Bevier’s interest in biology began early in life, in the 4th grade, and she’s done all she can to learn about the natural world. Cathy graduated from Indiana University and then earned her Ph.D. in ecology at the University of Connecticut. In 1999, she joined the faculty in the Biology Department at Colby College. Working at Colby requires a balance of research and teaching, and she especially enjoys working with curious and talented students. Cathy teaches courses that include Biodiversity, Animal Behavior, Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy, Behavioral and Physiological Ecology, and Exercise Physiology. Her service to the college includes chairing the biology department (2011-2014), serving on numerous college-wide committees, and advising students and student groups. She also works with the Colby Environmental Studies program.

Students in Bevier’s amphibian research laboratory at Colby College.

Professor Bevier is trained as a behavioral ecologist, and focuses on reproductive behavior in frogs. Most recently, however, she has targeted her research toward amphibian conservation. In particular, she and her research students are investigating the antimicrobial compounds produced in frog skin secretions and by beneficial symbiotic bacteria that live on frog skin. For some frogs, these may provide protection from the effects of infection by the pathogenic chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, which is one source of global declines and extinctions of amphibian population.

Professor Bevier’s work with the MLRC began when she was a co-principal investigator with a research group funded for five years by the National Science Foundation to investigate the effects of human development in the Belgrade Watershed. She and Professor Russ Cole have led teams of student research assistants during the last several summers to do field work to evaluate the riparian and littoral habitats of shoreline properties along three of the Belgrade Lakes (Great Pond, East Pond, North Pond). This data provides insight into the effectiveness of best management practices associated with the LakeSmart initiatives. Professors Bevier and Cole and their students continue to work with Maggie Shannon and other leaders within the Belgrade Lakes community to provide evidence for lakeside residents that encourage maintaining properties in ways that protect lake water quality and property values.

Professor Bevier enjoys exploring the Maine outdoors through every season, and especially enjoys summer swimming and kayaking on Messalonskee Lake. Her husband, Louis, is an avid birder and editor, and their son Alex, a junior at Lawrence High School, is a competitive swimmer and aspires to study biochemistry.