May 20-21, 1996 Workshop Introduction Page


I am a freshwater invertebrate community ecologist emphasizing species-level taxonomy, quantitative analyses, multivariate statistics, computer modeling, computer graphics, mapping and GIS analyses. My current position is a research scientist.

Current Research

I am collecting base-line data on aquatic oligochaetes, especially Tubifex tubifex, in Montana for Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks. The base-line will include species composition, distribution of the species within Montana, patterns of species abundance along drainages and throughout the seasons, substrate and other habitat preferences. I currently have 185 samples from 137 locations across the western half of Montana. Preliminary results are put on-line as developed as part of my Aquatic Invertebrates of Montana (AIM) project.


Tubifex tubifex is "weed"-like species that can exist in Montana wherever benthic competitors and predators are scarce or absent. It is abundant in many natural springs and in degraded habitats such as below dams and sewage outflows or where there is excessive sedimentation or irrigation withdraw. Tubifex tubifex is not the most common species in Montana, but it is present everywhere that I have checked where the disease is already reported and it is absent in many places where the disease has not been detected. It is possible, from this evidence, that Tubifex tubifex is the only invertebrate host for the salmonid whirling disease parasite in Montana.


I have B.S degrees from Michigan State University in biology and in fisheries science; a M.S. degree from the University of Florida in zoology (concentrating on physiological adaptations in isolated fish populations); and a Ph.D. from Montana State University in biology (concentrating on aquatic invertebrate ecology). I have worked with aquatic invertebrates in Montana since 1981.


I have a large collection of Montana freshwater invertebrates, extensive data on the species in Montana, an extensive library of taxonomic and ecological literature, and working relationships with taxonomic experts around the world. I am well equipped for field sampling, and my laboratory is suitable for sorting, identifying and enumerating samples that were preserved in the field. I do not work on live organisms, except while in the field.

Future Research

I hope to continue the base-line survey on Tubifex tubifex abundance and distribution in relation to salmonid whirling disease. I will also propose more detailed studies, including some experiments to isolate those factors that favor Tubifex tubifex and determine the most economical ways to manage water systems to reduce or eliminate T. tubifex populations.

26 JUNE 1996 D.L. Gustafson
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