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Staff member Melissa Youngquist.

Melissa Youngquist, Ph.D.

Research Biologist

Melissa Youngquist’s research focuses on how invasive species affect terrestrial and aquatic habitats used by amphibians.

Education

Ph.D.- ecology, evolution and environmental biology, Miami University

“My favorite part of walking through Shedd Aquarium is the abundance of amphibians and reptiles hidden in plain sight. I love taking the time to find each frog, salamander, turtle, snake and lizard in the many freshwater exhibits. ”

Melissa Youngquist, Ph.D., is the newest member of the freshwater research team in Shedd Aquarium’s Daniel P. Hearther Center for Conservation Research. The amphibian research biologist will collaborate with Shedd’s Great Lakes Action Days (GLADs) and the Forest Preserves of Cook County to improve wetland habitat for local amphibian species.

Her work at Shedd will focus on removing buckthorn, an aggressively invasive woody plant, from local forested wetlands. Buckthorn has negative effects on wildlife. Youngquist is interested in how several amphibian species will respond to restoration efforts. This work will help inform and improve restoration efforts throughout the Chicago area.

Before coming to Shedd, Youngquist was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Minnesota. In collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service, she studied how an invasive beetle, the emerald ash borer, might affect amphibians in black ash wetlands. Youngquist completed her Ph.D. at Miami University, Ohio, where she studied the effects of habitat in agricultural landscapes on amphibian populations. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Pacific Lutheran University.