Amy Dowling

Amy Dowling

M.S. Student

Marine Biology

Eagle River, Alaska 99577



Alaska Pacific University
B.S. Marine Biology



Variability in Pacific blue mussel (Mytilus trossulus) size frequency distribution associated with hydrographic conditions in two glacially influenced estuaries





I grew up in western Washington and moved up to Anchorage in May of 2010. I worked as a dental assistant for 8 years, then decided to go back to school for marine biology in 2015. I received my bachelor's degree from APU in 2019 and a few months later was accepted as a grad student in the Konar/Iken lab here at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. I now live in Eagle River and am working on my second year of my master's degree, and plan to graduate next summer.


Career Goals

I hope to get a job as a research biologist or ecologist with either a state or federal agency.



  • Open water dive certification, Test the Waters, 03/2020
  • CPR certified, Test the Waters, 03/2020


  • Ecology
  • Alaska nearshore ecosystem


Research Overview

Pacific blue mussels (Mytilus trossulus) are abundant filter feeders that connect the water column and the benthos, provide complex habitats for other benthic organisms, and serve as a food source to higher trophic level species. High latitude estuarine watersheds with glacial coverage are more heavily influenced by the influx of cold freshwater than watersheds that are exposed to rain-fed riverine or oceanic influence. Dynamic and/or static environmental conditions may affect size frequency distributions of blue mussels in these variable watersheds. This research seeks to answer the question: How do mussel size frequency distributions change spatially in high latitude estuaries with and without glacial influence, and which environmental variables correlate to this variation? Mussels were randomly collected in May 2019 in two regions in the Gulf of Alaska from a total of 15 sites with varying hydrographic influence, and mussels were measured. For each site, dynamic and static environmental variables were quantified. Mussel size frequencies grouped by sites based on water type: oceanic, riverine, or glacial. Level of glacial influence had no significant effect on mussel size frequency. Analysis of temperature and salinity revealed no significant differences in association with mussel size frequency. Preliminary results suggest that slope is the best correlate with size frequency. This study of how foundation species are affected by changes in environmental conditions provides deeper understanding of how high latitude nearshore ecosystems are changing in response to a changing climate.


Current Research Projects

  • EPSCoR Fire and Ice
  • Gulf Watch Alaska


Awards / Honors

  • EPSCoR Student Seed Grant, funding for Primer workshop, 01/2020
  • The Byrd Award, funding for graduate research, 01/2020
  • NASA Summer Fellowship, funding for undergrad research, 05/2018
  • At-Sea Processor’s Merit-Based Scholarship, student funding, 05/2017


Student Internships

  • USGS summer internship May-August 2018
  • Marine Mammal Observer, APU, May-June 2016




  • Alaska Pacific University, Alumna