I am currently a postdoctoral researcher at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, working with Dr. Rick Relyea as part of the Jefferson Project at Lake George. The Jefferson Project is an interdisciplinary effort among university researchers, industry experts, and policy advocates to develop novel methods for studying threats to lake ecosystems. For the last three years, I have conducted experiments to test how anthropogenic stressors such as salinization, climate change, and invasive species affect freshwater communities. I have also been studying the consequences of urban developments on lake food webs by surveying the chemistry, algae, zooplankton, and macroinvertebrates at dozens of locations across Lake George, NY. I am working with researchers at IBM, using machine-learning to develop and test niche models of invasive species. These niche models will be used to understand the potential impact that invasive species have on freshwater food webs, and to estimate how human activities affect the niche breadth of invasive species.

Email: matt.s.schuler@gmail.com


Anthropogenic activities and nearshore communities

As part of The Jefferson Project at Lake George, I survey nearshore communities to understand the long-term consequences of urban developments on littoral environments. Each month, I survey the chemistry, algae, zooplankton, and macroinvertebrates at dozens of locations across the lake. These data are also coupled with high-frequency sensor data and food-web models to predict the effects of anthropogenic activities on ecosystem functions such as lake metabolism, and ecosystem services such as water quality and clarity.


The effects of invasive species

Invasive species that are established within an area are thought to negatively affect ecosystem function and disturb habitats, paving the way for new invasive species. To understand if invasive species compete or facilitate one another, I use functionally diverse invasive mollusks in experimental freshwater communities. In collaboration with Dr. Bill Hintz, we are also investigating how invasive species’ interactions are altered by anthropogenic factors such as road salt runoff and nutrient inputs. The goal  of this research is to understand if we can make predictions about the effects that numerous invasive species will have in various environmental conditions. Future research efforts will investigate ways that we can improve niche modeling for invasive species in freshwater systems, and how new opportunities for invasions are being facilitated by human activities.



Road salt and freshwater salinization

The application of deicers like NaCl in the United States has increased from 1-2 million tons in 1950 to nearly 20 million tons in 2010. The increased costs of NaCl, potentially negative effects on human health, and the degradation of roadside habitats has driven agencies to seek alternative deicers and organic additives that make NaCl more effective. Numerous alternatives and additives are being applied across North America, without any knowledge of their effects in aquatic ecosystems. Some commonly used additives include organic distillation byproducts and beet juice byproducts. I am investigating the effects of road salt alternatives and additives on aquatic communities. These studies are extremely important for understanding how food webs, biodiversity, and species’ traits are altered by road salts and additives. I have found that alternative deicers and deicer additives alter food webs, change phosphorus cycles, increase microbial activity, and affect traits such as the timing of reproduction and emergence frequency. Future research will focus on the effects of these organic additives on microbial composition, and algal competition dynamics in freshwater systems. Additionally, the Relyea lab is collaborating with dozens of researchers around the world through the GLEON Network to experimentally test the effects of road salts on freshwater communities.

Species coexistence and patterns of diversity

Area, energy, and heterogeneity are often invoked as the primary drivers of species richness patterns. Yet, there are few tests of how these factors interact to affect patterns of species richness. I use experimental freshwater communities and a model zooplankton system to better understand the mechanisms by which environmental factors interact to affect species richness patterns.


Schuler, M.S.,M.Cañedo-Argüelles, W.D. Hintz, B. Dyack, S. Birk, and R.A. Relyea.In Press for special issue, Jan. 2019. Regulations are needed to protect freshwater ecosystems from salinization. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.DOI:10.1098/rstb.2018-0019.

Lind, L., M.S. Schuler,W.D.Hintz, D.K. Jones, B.M. Mattes, A.B. Stoler, and R.A. Relyea. In Press. Salty fertile lakes: How salinization and eutrophication alter the structure of freshwater communities. Ecosphere. DOI:10.1002/ecs2.2383.

Jones, D.K., E.K. Yates, B.M. Mattes, W.D. Hintz, M.S. Schuler, and R.A. Relyea. 2018. Timing and frequency of exposure modifies retention of induced tolerance to contaminants in amphibians. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. DOI:10.1002/etc.4177.

Schuler, M.S. and R.A. Relyea. 2018. A review of the combined threats of heavy metals and road salts to freshwater ecosystems. Bioscience. 68(5): 327-335.

Schuler, M.S.and R.A. Relyea. 2018. Road salts and organic additives affect mosquito recruitment: an emerging problem in wetlands. Oikos. 127(6): 866-874.

Jones, D.K., W.D. Hintz, M.S. Schuler, E.K. Yates, B.M. Mattes, and R.A. Relyea.2018. Inducible tolerance to agrochemicals was paved by evolutionary responses to predators. Environmental Science and Technology.51(23): 13913-13919.

DeWitt, P.D., M.S. Schuler, D.R. Visscher, and R.P. Thiel. 2017. Nutritional state reveals complex consequences of risk in a wild predator-prey community. Proceedings of the Royal Society B.284(1858).

Schuler, M.S., J.M. Chase, and T.M. Knight. 2017. Habitat size modulates the influence of heterogeneity on species diversity patterns in an experimental zooplankton community.  Ecology. 98(6): 1651-1659.

Schuler, M.S., J.M. Chase, and T.M. Knight. 2017. Habitat size alters the importance of dispersal for species diversity in a freshwater zooplankton community. Ecology and Evolution. 7(15): 5774-5783.

Stoler, A.B., W.D. Hintz, D.K. Jones, L. Lind, B.M. Mattes, M.S. Schuler,R.A. Relyea. 2017. Leaf litter mediates the negative effect of road salt on forested wetland communities. Freshwater Science. 36(2): 415-426.

Stoler, A.B., W.D. Hintz, D.K. Jones, L. Lind, B.M. Mattes, M.S. Schuler, R.A. Relyea. 2017. Effects of a common insecticide on wetland communities with varying quality of leaf litter inputs. Environmental Pollution. (226): 452-462.

Schuler, M. S., W.D. Hintz, D.K. Jones, L. Lind, B.M. Mattes, A.B. Stoler, K. Sudol, and R.A. Relyea. 2017. In search of safer alternatives: How common road salts and organic additives alter freshwater food webs. Journal of Applied Ecology. 54(5): 1353-1361.

Hintz, W.D., B.M. Mattes, M.S. Schuler, D.K. Jones, A.B. Stoler, L. Lind, and R.A. Relyea. 2017. Salinization triggers a trophic cascade in experimental freshwater communities with varying food-chain length. Ecological Applications. 27(3): 833-844.

Jones, D.K., B.M. Mattes, W.D. Hintz, M.S. Schuler, A.B. Stoler, L. Lind, R.O. Cooper, and R.A. Relyea. 2017. Investigation of road salts and biotic stressors on freshwater wetland communities. Environmental Pollution. (221): 159-167.

Stoler, A.B., B.M. Walker, W.D. Hintz, D.K. Jones, L. Lind, B. M. Mattes, M.S. Schuler, and R.A. Relyea. 2017. Combined effects of road salt and an insecticide on wetland communities. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. 36(3): 771-779.

Sears, M.W., M.J. Angilletta, M.S.Schuler,J. Borchert, K.F. Dilliplane, M. Stegman, T. Rusch, and W.A. Mitchell. 2016. Configuration of the thermal landscape determines thermoregulatory performance of ectotherms. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 113(38): 10595-10600.

Schuler, M.S., J.M. Chase, and T.M. Knight. 2015.More individuals drive the species energy-area relationship in a zooplankton community. Oikos. 124(8): 1065-1070.

Schuler, M.S. and J.L. Orrock. 2012. The maladaptive significance of maternal effects in plants. Evolutionary Ecology. 26(3): 475-481.

Schuler, M.S., M.W. Sears, and M.J. Angilletta. 2011. Food consumption does not affect the preferred body temperature of Yarrow’s spiny lizard (Sceloporus jarrovi). Journal of Thermal Biology. 36(2): 112-115.

Schuler, M.S., J.J. Storm, B.C. Cooper, M.W. Sears, and M.J. Angilletta. 2011. Isopods failed to acclimate their thermal physiology of locomotor performance during predictable or stochastic cooling. PloS ONE.6(6): e20905.

Angilletta, M.J., B.S. Cooper, M.S. Schuler,and J.G. Boyles. 2010. The evolution of thermal physiology in endotherms. Frontiers in Bioscience E. (2): 861-881.

Schuler, M.S. and R.P. Thiel. 2008. Annual vs. multiple year home range sizes of individual Blanding’s turtles Emydoidea blandingiiin Central Wisconsin. The Canadian Field-Naturalist. 122(1): 61-64.

In review               

García-Quismondo, M., W.D. Hintz, M.S. Schuler, and R.A. Relyea. Drivers of diel vertical migration in a changing climate. Global Change Biology.

Schuler, M. S., W.D. Hintz, D.K. Jones, B.M. Mattes, A.B. Stoler, and R.A. Relyea. Context-dependent effects of invasive mollusks in experimental freshwater lakes. Journal of Aplied Ecology.

Chase, J.M., L. Gooriah, F. May, W.A. Ryberg, M.S. Schuler, D. Craven, T.M. Knight. A framework for dissecting ecological mechanisms underlying the island species-area relationship. Frontiers in Biogeography.

Hintz, W.D., M.S. Schuler, D.K. Jones, K.D. Coldsnow, A.B. Stoler, and R.A. Relyea. Multi-trophic impacts of an invasive species are influenced by bottom-up nutrient effects. Ecology.

DeWitt, P.D., D.R. Visscher, M.S. Schuler, and R.P. Thiel. Predation risk suppresses lifetime reproductive success in a wild mammal. Oikos.

Kornecki, K.M., M.S. Schuler, M.E. Katz, R.A. Relyea, F.M.G. McCarthy, M.F. Schaller, D.P. Gillikin, J.C. Stager, C.W. Boylen, L. Eichler, and S. Nierzwicki-Bauer. The canary in the coal mine: testate amoebae record anthropogenic impacts in oligotrophic Lake George, NY sediments.The Journal of Foraminiferal Research.