Nicholas J. Lang

Ph.D. Candidate

Contact Information:
Phone: (314) 977-3935
Fax: (314) 977-3658
E-mail: langnj@slu.edu
Mail: Department of Biology
St. Louis University
3507 Laclede
St. Louis, MO 63103-2010

B.A., University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, 2000

“A systematist is not a man who knows all the curiosities of nature, but one who grasps the order and sense of it all.”
Nicolai I. Vavilov, 1922


Research Interests: North America’s waters contain a diverse and interesting ichthyofauna. The second largest clade within this fauna is the darters (Tribe Etheostomatinae, Family Percidae), a group of small fishes comprised of four genera. Darters are the sister clade to the pikeperches (genus Zander) and have evolved to utilize a wide variety of ecological niches, from gravelly headwater streams to large sandy rivers. This variety of habitat and form was likely influenced by the change from piscivorous (pikeperches) to insectivorous eating habits. In addition, species in many clades are diagnosed based on the brilliant color patterns exhibited during the breeding season by reproductively active males. New species of darters are frequently recognized as new genetic and morphological data is gathered and analyzed. My studies focus on building molecular phylogenies in order to test population genetic processes, species level boundaries and higher level relationships within this clade. I am especially interested in constructing a well-supported hypothesis of the relationships between the monophyletic lineages within the genus Etheostoma in order to test hypotheses of the tempo and mode of evolution within this group. I have also worked on projects concerning rare madtom catfish of the subgenus Rabida (Ictaluridae: Noturus) using both molecular and morphological laboratory techniques and focused field surveys.

Teaching Experience: I have taught the laboratory sections of both introductory biology and cell biology for biomedical engineering majors.

Outreach and Service: I am active in the Graduate Student Participation Committee of the largest ichthyology association in North America (ASIH) and have been an invited reviewer in the association’s journal, Copeia. I have also participated in a school visit program that gives grade school students the opportunity to learn about and interact with museum specimens up close.

Selected Presentations:

Systematics of the Southwestern Darter Species Group (Percidae: Etheostoma: Oligocephalus). PERCIS III, Madison, WI, 2003.

Systematic affinities of Missouri populations of the Orangethroat Darter (Etheostoma spectabile) species complex. Missouri Natural Resources Conference, Lake of the Ozarks, MO, 2003.

Systematics of the subgenus Oligocephalus (Etheostoma: Percidae) using the mitochondrially encoded ND2 gene. Association of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, Kansas City, MO, 2002.

Defining proper conservation units within the federally threatened yellowfin madtom, Noturus flavipinnis. Association of Southeastern Biologists, Asheville, NC, 2002.

Meristic variation of the Longear Sunfish (Lepomis megalotis) in Illinois. American Fisheries Society-Midwest, Des Moines, IA, 2001.

Papers and Reports:

LANG, N. J., S. L. POWERS and R. L. MAYDEN. Conservation Status of Undescribed Madtoms of the Noturus elegans Species Complex in the Upper Tennessee River System. In prep for Southeastern Naturalist.

MAYDEN, R. L., K. E. KNOTT, J. CLABAUGH, B. R. KUHAJDA and N. J. LANG. Systematics and conservation of Etheostoma ditrema based on allozyme variation. In prep for Biochemical Systematics and Ecology.

LANG, N. J., S. L. POWERS and R. L. MAYDEN. 2002. Status survey of the Noturus elegans species group in the middle and upper Tennessee River drainage. Unpublished report to United States Fish And Wildlife Service, Cookesville, TN.

Grants and Awards:

Honorable Mention, Missouri Natural Resources Student Poster Competition, 2003.

Southeastern Division of ASIH Outstanding Student Paper in Ichthyology Award, $100, 2002.

Alabama Power Summer Fellowship, $2,450, 2001.


Fish illustrations by Joseph R. Tomelleri and used with permission.