Alec Lackmann

Assistant Professor | University of Minnesota Duluth


Alec Lackmann is an ichthyologist and assistant professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth within the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and Department of Biology. In 2019, Alec earned his PhD at North Dakota State University studying aquatic ecology. During his PhD he began an academic side project investigating a group of underappreciated fishes in the Midwest, a project that stemmed from long-held curiosity. Since this time he has pioneered the accurate age analysis of more than a dozen species of fish, species that were previously abandoned for age analysis due to perceived difficulties. In short, Alec’s work has revealed some of the longest-lived freshwater fishes, and some of the oldest vertebrate populations known. In the past 5 years Alec has discovered 3 species of centenarian freshwater fish, all within the genus Ictiobus (buffalofishes). His work has revealed that buffalofishes likely harbor something special, as 3 of its 5 extant species easily attain ages beyond 100 years – an especially remarkable fact because the two other species have never been studied for lifespan. Furthermore, all five species of buffalofish are warm-adapted species found in shallow freshwater habitats, which makes their exceptional longevity defying. Alec’s work on buffalofishes has uncovered a life-history strategy that often involves extreme bet-hedging across 40-80 year time intervals. Interestingly, he and his team also discovered that bigmouth buffalo continue to improve at 100 years old, both physically and physiologically. The mechanisms underlying their negligible senescence are unknown. Overall, Alec’s work has provided much insight into the intricacies of freshwater ecosystems, is upending long-held fisheries management paradigms, and exemplifies how much there is still to learn from the natural world in its detailed complexity. Alec is from Minnesota, the US state known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” where he grew up spending much of his time outdoors.