Dave Zanatta
Department of Biology
Institute for Great Lakes Research
Conservation Biology, Molecular Ecology, Evolution, Aquatic Systems
Biosciences 2408

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


  • B.Sc., Laurentian University, 1998
  • M.Sc., University of Guelph, 2001
  • Ph.D., University of Toronto, 2008
  • Postdoc., Trent University, 2007-2008

Teaching Areas

  • Conservation Biology
  • Ecology
  • Evolution
  • Invertebrate Biology

Research Fields

Molecular Ecology and Conservation Biology in Aquatic Systems

Current Research Projects

My lab’s research focuses on evolutionary and ecological questions in aquatic systems. Unfortunately, many of our aquatic systems are degraded to the point that this research has major implications for conservation. We primarily study freshwater mollusks in the Great Lakes region. Freshwater mollusks are among the most imperiled groups of organisms on Earth. Our research involves going into the field, jumping into lakes and rivers and counting mollusks while taking tissue samples. We then bring the field-collected tissues back to the lab to do genetic analyses and ultimately statistical analyses to understand how populations and species relate to each other. This is especially important for conservation because if we don’t know and understand the species and populations that we’re working on, we can’t easily manage or protect them.

Ongoing (funded) projects in my lab include:
  • Genetic population structure of native freshwater mollusks in the Great Lakes region
  • Conservation of native freshwater mussels in nearshore and coastal zones of the Great Lakes
  • Host fish identification and propagation of at-risk freshwater mussels