Fallon Parker is a Biology major with a concentration in Environmental Studies and a minor in Geospatial Sciences from Dandridge, Tenn. "My life has always revolved around the outdoors and water," Fallon recalls. "I have been a competitive swimmer for 15 years and have spent the past six years or so coaching swimming." Her passions include many outdoor sports such as snowboarding, hiking, surfing, wake boarding, sailing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. "The latter of these began my love of marine ecology and has been one of my main drives to be a part of the Radford University Amazon trip," she recalls.
In Peru, Fallon will be studying bacterial colonies in fish and how the trophic web is structured with the invertebrates in two streams flowing opposite directions. "Past research I have done is nearly all aquatic including both freshwater and marine," she says. "I spent time at Conservation Fisheries Inc. breeding and caring for freshwater fish that are classified as threatened and endangered."
Through another Radford University study abroad opportunity In the U.S. Virgin Islands, Fallon studied the abundance and distribution of four Caribbean reef fish species by size class. "I also studied abroad with the Biology department going to the Galapagos Islands focusing on adaptation and evolution," she states. Fallon spent the summer of 2014 working with the Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation doing stream invertebrate surveys.
Fallon adds, "One of my favorite things in life is new exploration and adventures. I see the Amazon Rainforest of Peru as the ultimate adventure!"
The freshwaters of the Peruvian Amazon rainforest have been relatively unexplored. As one of the most biodiverse hotspots in the world we might presume that there is much there yet to be discovered. In addition many areas there, such as Las Piedras watershed, have been rarely encroached upon by human disturbances. I predict that there will be a more varied number of aquatic organisms such as fish and invertebrates in larger streams further from human habitation than smaller streams closer to human habitation. Also, water and soil with more varied microbial life will also be the streams with a larger variety of fish and invertebrates. Areas with higher habitat assessment scores should have a higher abundance and variety of aquatic organisms.