Daelyn Woolnough
Research Assistant
Department of Biology
Institute for Great Lakes Research
Spatial, Conservation, & Aquatic Ecology, GIS
Biosciences 2106

Dr. Woolnough is a professor of Biology at Central Michigan University


  • B.Sc. (Env), University of Guelph, 1999
  • Adv. Diploma, Maringe Geomatics, College of Geographic Sciences, 2000
  • M.Sc., (Zoology), University of Guelph, 2002
  • Ph.D., (Ecology, Evolution, & Organismal Biology), Iowa State University, 2006
  • Postdoc., Trent University, 2006-2008

Teaching Areas

  • Population Ecology
  • Landscape Ecology
  • Spatial Statistics
  • Aquatic Ecology
  • Geographic Information Systems

Research Fields

Spatial Ecology and Conservation Ecology

Current Research Projects

My interests revolve around understanding the biological processes and mechanisms underlying spatial patterns. Spatial patterns affect the distribution and diversity of species. Variation in spatial patterns affects the persistence of populations. I focus on the ecological movement through metapopulation theory which can help estimate the spatial ecology of species, populations, and communities. Metapopulation theory can be applied to host-parasite communities as well as species-resource spatial dynamics. I have used spatial ecology concepts to consider spatial distribution of mussels, fish, benthic invertebrates as well as terrestrial populations of dogwoods and wild radishes. These complex landscapes and the spatial ecology of species create dynamics that structure populations and communities. My current research emphasizes how populations and communities are connected by physical structure or functional connections (e.g., resources or host movement) in space and time and whether the variability of empirical data can be used to predict survival and distribution. Recent research focuses on effects of urbanization on aquatic water bodies and fragmentation of habitats by dams and culverts.

Ongoing (funded) projects in my lab include:
  • Influence of contaminants of emerging concern on native mussels and host fish
  • Effects of dams and dam removals on mollusks in Great Lakes rivers
  • Landscape ecology of native communities of mollusks in Michigan watersheds
  • Deterministic factors of distribution of all molluscan fauna in the Grand River watershed
  • Effects of dewatering of lakes due to dam restoration and replacement
  • Analysis of habitat fragmentation due to culverts
  • Assessing aquatic habitats in an urban landscape
  • Host fish identification and propagation of at-risk mussels in the Great Lakes

These projects are funded by a variety of sources including Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Michigan Department of Natural Resources.


  • Chambers, A.J. and D.A. Woolnough. In press. Discrete longitudinal variation in freshwater mussel assemblages within two rivers of central Michigan, USA. Hydrobiologia – Online Early.
  • Hewitt, T.L. J.L. Bergner, D.A. Woolnough, and D.T. Zanatta. In press. Phylogeography of the freshwater mussel species Lasmigona costata: Testing post-glacial colonization hypotheses. Hydrobiologia - Online Early.
  • Caldwell, M.L., D.T. Zanatta, and D.A. Woolnough. 2016. A multi-basin approach determines variability in host fish suitability for unionids in tributaries of the Laurentian Great Lakes. Freshwater Biology 61: 1035–1048. [cover photo].
  • Vogt, R. J., P.C. Frost, S. Nienhuis, D.A. Woolnough, and M. A. Xenopoulous. 2016. The duel synchronizing influences of precipitation and land use on stream properties in a rapidly urbanizing watershed. Ecosphere. 7(9): 1-15.
  • Liao, J-B., Y. Zhixia, D.A.Woolnough, A.D. Miller, Z. Li, and I. Nijs. 2016. Coexistence of species with different dispersal across landscapes: A critical role of spatial correlation in disturbance. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 283 (1830): 20160537
  • FMCS (Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society). 2016. A national strategy for the conservation of native freshwater mollusks. Freshwater Mollusk Biology and Conservation 19: 1-21. [one of 11 contributing authors; 1 of 3 academic authors]
  • Calabro, E.J., B.A. Murry, D.A. Woolnough, and D.G. Uzarski. 2013. Application and     transferability of Great Lakes coastal wetland indices of biotic integrity to high quality inland lakes of Beaver Island in northern Lake Michigan. Aquatic Ecosystem Health and   Management.
  • Sherman, J.J., B.A. Murry, D.A. Woolnough, D.T. Zanatta, and D.G. Uzarski. 2013. Assessment of   remnant unionid assemblages in a selection of Great Lakes coastal wetlands. Journal of Great Lakes Research. 39:201-210.
  • Harris, A.T., D.A.Woolnough, and D.T. Zanatta. 2011. Insular lake island biogeography: Using lake metrics to predict diversity in littoral zone mollusk communities. J. North American Benthological Society. 30(4): 997-1008.
  • Spooner, D., Xenopoulos, M.A., Schneider, C., and D.A. Woolnough.  2011. Co-extirpation of host-affiliate relationships in rivers: The role of climate change, water withdrawal, and host specificity. Global Change Biology. 17(4): 1720-1732.
  • Downing, J.A., VanMeter, P. and D.A. Woolnough.  2010. Suspects and evidence: a review of the causes of decline and extirpation in freshwater mussels. Animal Biodiversity and Conservation. 33(2):151-185.
  • Zanatta, D.T. and D.A. Woolnough. 2011. Confirmation of Obovaria olivaria, Olive Hickorynut mussels (Bivalvia: Unionidae), in the Mississagi River, Ontario Canada. Northeastern Naturalist.18(1):1-6.[cover photo]. 
  • Woolnough, D.A., J.A. Downing, and T.J. Newton. 2009. Fish movement and habitat use depends on water body size and shape. Ecology of Freshwater Fish. 18: 83–91.
  • Newton, T.J., D.A. Woolnough, and D.L. Strayer. 2008.  Using landscape ecology to understand freshwater mussel populations. Journal of North American Benthological Society - Special Issue Invited 27(2):224-239. 
  • Zanatta, D.T., G.L. Mackie, J.L. Metcalfe-Smith, and D.A. Woolnough. 2002. A refuge for native freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionidae) from impacts of the exotic zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) in Lake St. Clair.  Journal of Great Lakes Research 28:479-489.