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Dr. Clay Pierce

Pierce Grading Papers


  • Ph D University of Maryland 1987
  • MS University of Kentucky 1982
  • BS Mankato State University (now Minnesota State University - Mankato) 1980


Assistant Unit Leader, Fisheries
Supervises graduate students and does aquatic ecology and fisheries research in the lakes, rivers, and streams of Iowa. Clay is a native of Minnesota. He was a postdoctoral researcher at McGill University and an assistant professor at Eastern Illinois University before assuming his present position in 1993.
B.S. Mankato State, 1980
M.S., Kentucky, 1982
Ph.D., Maryland, 1987

Research Interests

Dr. Pierce’s research interests encompass aquatic ecology, fisheries science and fisheries management. Most of his research is applied and addresses information needs of state and federal natural resource agencies. Dr. Pierce collaborates with graduate students, university staff, and agency biologists.

Teaching Interests

A ECL 418/518
Stream Ecology. This dual-listed course explores the biological, chemical, physical, and geological processes shaping the structure and function of flowing water ecosystems. Topics from basic principles to synthetic theories of stream ecosystems are covered, as well as applications for management of water quality, biological integrity, and fisheries in streams. Laboratory sessions and field trips provide hands-on experiences. Students work on term projects in small groups. Graduate students enrolling in A Ecl 518 participate in bi-weekly discussions of primary literature.

A ECL 520
Fisheries Science. This graduate-level course explores concepts, approaches and techniques for assessment of recreational and commercial fisheries. Topics range from basic principles to applications and from individual fish to entire ecosystems. Computer simulation modeling, group projects, and discussion of primary literature are emphasized.

Research Publications

  • Camacho, C. A., C. J. Sullivan, M. J. Weber, and C. L. Pierce. 2019. Morphological identification of Bighead Carp, Silver Carp, and Grass Carp eggs using random forests machine learning classification. North American Journal of Fisheries Management
  • Schilling, K. E., K. Wilke, C. L. Pierce, K. Kult, and A. Kenney. 2019. Multi-purpose oxbows as a new nitrogen reduction practice in the agricultural Midwest. Agricultural and Environmental Letters. 4:190035.
  • Kramer, N. W., Q. E. Phelps, C. L. Pierce, and M. E. Colvin. 2019. A food web modelling assessment of Asian Carp impacts in the Middle and Upper Mississippi River. Food Webs.
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Current Projects

Completed Projects


  • Stream Ecology (2013)
  • Fisheries Science (2013)
  • Stream Ecology (2011)
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Iowa Other Professional Positions and Memberships

  • Clay PierceMember, Panelist for USGS - Biological Resources Discipline national Research Grade Evaluation Panel, Chicago, IL ( - November 2013)
  • Clay PierceIowa Department of Natural Resources, organized technology transfer workshop for staff titled, “The Clear Lake Ecosystem Simulation Model (CLESM): Technology Transfer”, Ames, IA January 2012. ( - January 2012)
  • Clay PierceAcademic Panelist, "Beginning Your Professional Journey" workshop ( - December 2011)
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Iowa University Committees and Workgroups

  • Clay PierceMember, NREM Fisheries Biologist Search Committee, Iowa State University (August 2011 - May 2012)
  • Clay PierceMember, NREM-Entomology Chair Search Committee, Iowa State University (September 2010 - May 2011)
  • Clay PierceMentor, Academies Creating Teacher Scientists (ACTS), Iowa State University/U.S. Department of Energy partnership (February 2010 - August 2010)
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Technical Publications

  • Reeves, R. A., and C. L. Pierce. 2013. Amphibian assemblage and population health as an indicator of ecosystem health in various wetland types of the Des Moines Lobe in Iowa. Annual Progress Report to the U.S. Geological Survey. 24 pages.
  • Pierce, C. L. 2012. Fish assemblage relationships with physical characteristics and presence of dams in three eastern Iowa rivers. Final Report to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. 83 pages.
  • Sindt, A. R., M. C. Quist, and C. L. Pierce. 2011. Fish species of greatest conservation need in wadeable Iowa streams: status, habitat associations, and effectiveness of species distribution models. Final Report to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. 118 pages.
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Current Staff

Federal Staff: 2

Masters Students: 2

Phd Students: 2

Post Docs: 0

University Staff: 8

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 14

Scientific Publications: 44

Presentations: 51


Contact Information

Tel: (515) 294 - 3159

Current Students

Iowa Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Cooperators

  1. Iowa Department of Natural Resources
  2. Iowa State University
  3. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  4. U.S. Geological Survey
  5. Wildlife Management Institute