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Robin Sleith

Ph.D. Candidate, City University of New York / The New York Botanical Garden

, The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Research Projects



I am broadly interested in freshwater ecosystems. Lakes and ponds are my passion. My dissertation project focuses on the biogeography, ecology, and taxonomy of the green algae family Characeae in the northeastern United States. Part of my dissertation concerns the invasive alga Nitellopsis obtusa (Desv. in Loisel.) J. Groves. This alga, native to Europe and Asia, was introduced to the Great Lakes of North America in the 1970s. Since then it has spread throughout inland lakes in New York and Michigan creating problems for native species and impeding recreation activities.

I am surveying 700 waterbodies across New York and New England to characterize the distribution of Nitellopsis obtusa and native charophyte species. This survey will allow investigation of the ecological and evolutionary factors that enable Nitellopsis obtusa, which is rare in its native range, to be such a successful invader in North America. To accomplish this task I combine analytical water chemistry techniques, environmental niche modeling, and molecular tools such as next-generation sequencing and comparative genomics. I am also interested in addressing our aquatic invasive species problem through public outreach and education and will be leading workshops across the Northeast to build understanding of this fascinating group of green algae.You can learn more about me here.

Selected Publications

Sleith, R. S., Havens, A. J., Stewart, R. A., & K. G. Karol. 2015. Distribution of Nitellopsis obtusa (Characeae) in New York, U.S.A. Brittonia.