Meet Erin Donley: UC Davis Ph.d Program and USDA Fall River Researcher

Erin Donley and FRC board member Ray Christensen at the USDA Lab

Dear Fall River Community,

My name is Erin Donley. I recently joined the team of researchers at the USDA, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) who are studying the Fall River, its native aquatic life and the invasive plant populations that are currently proliferating in the watershed. The research activities I perform on the Fall River will also guide my work as a Ph.D. student at the University of California, Davis.

My background is in water resource management, including: river and estuary restoration, climate change impacts on instream flows for salmonid populations, aquatic entomology and water resources policy. I received a Master’s of Science in aquatic ecology and a Master’s of Public Administration in water policy from the University of Washington. I also hold a Bachelor of Science from the University of California, Berkeley in natural resource management – with an emphasis in biological monitoring using aquatic insects. My current research interests include characterizing the aquatic macroinvertebrate communities on the Fall River as a function of Eurasian watermilfoil invasion, assessing the influence of Eurasian watermilfoil on nutrient cycling within the Fall River and simulating possible ecosystem response to potential riparian restoration scenarios.

Although I am a native Californian, it wasn’t until recently that I made my first visit to the Fall River. The beauty of the valley took my breath away. As I followed the river’s winding course by boat, I took in the Autumn color of the deciduous trees scattered among the surrounding pines, spotted sizable rainbow trout darting in deep pools and even had the pleasure of witnessing an impressive mayfly emergence event at sun set. I am very grateful to have been granted the opportunity to engage in research in a place so rich with life and intriguing opportunities for study. If you happen to encounter me on the river or in town, please feel free to introduce yourself and I will certainly do the same.

Best wishes,


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