Broadly stated, my research interests are to understand how the environment controls
life processes in fish and how fish can respond to environmental change, especially
those enacted by human activities. Climate change and other anthropogenic factors
are altering fish habitat across the globe. These include, but are not limited to,
the warming of waters, ocean acidification, expansion of hypoxic and anoxic dead zones,
changing freshwater hydrology and altered ocean currents. How fish respond physiologically
and behaviorally to these changes will determine which fishes survive the opening
of the newest geological age, the Anthropocene. My work in this area started as an
undergraduate at the University of Washington when I published my undergraduate research
on the effects of acid rain on developing fish. My Ph. D. work at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison focused on how fish from naturally acidic lakes thrived there; work
still relevant today as concerns over global ocean acidification grow. My post-doctoral
work in Germany and Canada concentrated on high carbon dioxide in the water and using
fish exercise and metabolic performance as indicators of how well fish can potentially
do in an environment. My current research at Towson is following three separate paths
to continue to understand how fish fare in altered environments. One direction looks
at hypoxia tolerance in striped bass white perch and European sea bass and whether
the ability to tolerate hypoxia is determined by or trades off with other physiological
characteristics. I am also very interested in how future changes in flow and temperature
brought about by climate change will influence fish populations. I am currently examining
this by investigating how small stream minnows in Maryland deal with progressive urbanization,
but I have also studied the physiology of Arctic charr in Iceland that live in natural
gradients of temperature and flow. I have an active research program that involves
students and is international in both its scope and recognition. I have supervised
over 55 undergraduate research students and 19 Master’s students and conducted research
in 6 different countries and collaborated with scientists of 15 different nationalities.
Nelson, J. A., K. J. Rieger, D. Gruber, M. Cutler, B. Buckner and C. E. Oufiero (2021). Thermal tolerance of cyprinids along an urban-rural gradient: Plasticity, repeatability
and effects of swimming and temperature shock. Journal of Thermal Biology 100 (2021) 103047.
Oufiero C. E., K. Kraskura*., R. Bennington# and J. A. Nelson (2021). Individual repeatability of locomotor kinematics and swimming performance
in a gymnotiform swimmer. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 94(1):22–34.
Kraskura, K*. and J.A. Nelson (2020) Hypoxia tolerance and swimming metabolism of wild, juvenile striped bass (Morone saxatilis). Journal of Experimental Biology 223: 1-10.
Nelson, J.A. K. Kraskura* & G. K. Lipkey* (2019). Repeatability of hypoxia tolerance of individual
juvenile striped bass Morone saxatilis and effects of social status. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 92(4):396–407.
Kraskura, K*. and J.A. Nelson (2018). Hypoxia and sprint swimming performance of juvenile striped bass, Morone saxatilis. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology. 91(1) 682-690.
Nelson, J.A. and Val, A. (2016). From the equator to the poles, a physiology section perspective
on climate change. Fisheries, 41(7): 409-411.
Nelson, J.A. (2016). Oxygen Consumption Rate versus Rate of Energy Utilisation of Fishes: A comparison
and brief history of the two measurements. J. of Fish Biol. 88:10–25.
Nelson, J.A. & G. K. Lipkey* (2015). Hypoxia tolerance variance between swimming and resting striped
bass Morone saxatilis. J. of Fish Biology, 87(2): 510-518.
Nelson, J.A. (2015) Pickled fish anyone? The physiological ecology of fish from naturally acidic
waters. Pp. 193-216. in: Extremophile Fishes - Ecology and Evolution of Teleosts in Extreme Environments. (R. Riesch, M. Tobler and M. Plath eds.) Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg.
Nelson, J.A., F. Atzori , K. R. Gastrich*. (2015). Repeatability and phenotypic plasticity of
fish swimming performance across a gradient of urbanization. Environmental Biology of Fishes 98:1431-1447.
Nelson, J.A. 2013. Breaking wind to survive: Fish that breath air with their gastrointestinal
tract. Journal of Fish Biology. 84: 554-576.
Vandamm, J.#, S. Marras, G. Claireaux, C. A. Handelsman* & J. A. Nelson. 2012. Acceleration performance of individual European sea bass, Dicentrarchus labrax measured with a sprint performance chamber: comparison with high-speed cinematography
and correlates with ecological performance. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 85: 704-717.
Williamson# Nicole E., Joseph J. Cech Jr. and Jay A. Nelson. 2012. Flow preferences of individual blacknose dace (Rhinichthys atratulus); Influence of swimming ability and environmental history. Environmental Biology of Fishes 95: 407-414.
Nelson J.A. and Chabot D. (2011) General Energy Metabolism. In: Farrell A.P., (ed.), Encyclopedia of Fish Physiology: From Genome to Environment, volume 3, pp. 1566–1572. San Diego: Academic Press.
Nelson J.A. (2011) Energetics: An Introduction. In: Farrell A.P., (ed.), Encyclopedia of Fish Physiology: From Genome to Environment, volume 3, pp. 1563–1565. San Diego: Acad. Press.
NELSON, J. A. AND A. M. DEHN*. (2011). The GI tract in air breathing. Pp. 395-433 In: Fish Physiology (v. 30): The Multifunctional Gut of Fish. (A. P. Farrell, C. J. Brauner, and M. Grossell eds.) Elsevier, London.
Handelsman*, C. A. , J. A. Nelson and G. Claireaux. 2010. Sprint capacity and ecological performance of cultured and
wild European sea bass in coastal tidal ponds. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology. 83(3): 435-445.
Marras,S., G. Claireaux, D. J. McKenzie and J.A. Nelson. 2010. Individual variation and repeatability in aerobic and anaerobic swimming performance
of European sea bass, Dicentrarchus labrax. Journal of Experimental Biology. 213:26-32.
Nelson, Jay A., Portia S. Gotwalt*, Christopher A. Simonetti# and Joel W. Snodgrass. 2008. Environmental
correlates, plasticity and repeatability of differences in performance among blacknose
dace (Rhinichthys atratulus) populations across a gradient of urbanization. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 81(1): 25-42
Claireaux, G. C. Handelsman*, E. Standen and J. A. Nelson. 2007. Thermal and temporal stability of swimming performances in the European sea
bass. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology. 80(2):186-196.
Nonogaki*, H., J.A Nelson. & W.P. Patterson 2007. Dietary histories of herbivorous loricariid catfishes: evidence
from 13C values of otoliths. Environmental Biol. of Fishes. 78 (1): 13-21.
Nelson, J. A., F. S. A. Rios*, J. R. Sanches, M. N. Fernandes and F. T. Rantin, 2007. Environmental
influences on the respiratory physiology and gut chemistry of a facultatively air-breathing,
tropical herbivorous fish Hypostomus regani (Ihering, 1905). pp 191-218 in Fish Respiration and the Environment. Science Publisher Inc. Editors: M. N. Fernandes, F. T. Rantin, M. Glass & B.G. Kapoor: ISBN 978-1-57808-357-2; July 2007; c.386 pages.
Nelson, J.A. and G. Claireaux. 2005. Inter-individual variance of sprint swimming performance,
swimming metabolism and endurance in a cohort of European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax). Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. 134:1274-1284.
Nelson, J.A. P. S. Gotwalt* and J.W. Snodgrass. 2003. Current Velocity Structures Swimming Performance
of Blacknose Dace. Can. J. of Fish. Aquat. Sci. 60(3): 301-308
Nelson, J.A. 2002. Metabolism of three species of herbivorous Loricariid catfishes: influence
of size and diet. J. of Fish Biology.61:1586-1599.
Nelson, J.A., P. S. Gotwalt* , D.W. Webber and S. Reidy*. 2002. Beyond Ucrit: Matching swimming
performance tests to the physiological ecology of the animal, including a fish “drag
strip". Comparative Biochemistry & Physiology. 133/2 pp 289-302
1Martinez*, M., Guderley, H., Nelson, J.A., Webber, D., Dutil, J.D., 2002. Once a fast cod, always a fast cod: maintenance of
performance hierarchies despite changing food availability in cod (Gadus morhua) Physiological and Biochemical Zoology. 75: 90-100.
Reidy*, S., S.R. Kerr and J. A. Nelson. 2000. Aerobic and anaerobic swimming performance of individual Atlantic cod. Journal of Experimental Biology. 203: 347-357.
Human Anatomy & Physiology I & II: Biol 221/222; anytime
Animal Physiology: BIOL 325; anytime
Humans Science & the Chesapeake Bay: Biol. 333; Fall semesters of even years
- Marine Biology: BIOL 347: Even spring semesters
Fish Biology: Biol 455/555; Spring semesters of even years
Advanced Physiology: Biol 470/570; Fall semsters
Mechanisms of Animal Physiology: BIOL. 604; anytime
Graduate seminar: Biol. 797; anytime