research interests --
American shad - Much of my research on fish has been
focused in the Hudson River
estuary in eastern
Sadly, American shad, like many other species, are in serious decline. Check out the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s reports on this and other fishes.
MSc student Chris Nack is studying how different habitats affect the well-being and recruitment of larval shad. This work is getting the support of the NYSDEC and Riverkeeper (thanks!). Additionally we are looking at the role of predation on juveniles, because in some river systems it’s thought that striped bass suppress shad and river herring recruitment. We are mid-way in these projects, so stay tuned.
River herring - Currently, there is great interest in blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis) and its congener species, the alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus). These two fish species together are referred to as river herring, even though they spend most of their adult life out at sea along the coasts (ironic, eh?). The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is currently assessing their status. But there is no doubt: they are in serious decline.
A couple of my doctoral students are currently working on these species. Rita Monteiro is studying how alewife recruitment is affected by urbanization processes, and Sara Turner is studying the chemistry of river herring otoliths (look here to learn about otoliths) to determine if they can be used as natural tags to track down and identify the provenance of marine bycatch.
A while ago, together with Nina Caraco from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, and Robert Schmidt from Simon's Rock College, I studied how the invasive species, the zebra mussel, altered the food webs of the Hudson that supported blueback herring, The blueback appears to be moving up into the Mohawk River, where it appears poised to invade Lake Ontario via the NYS Barge Canal. An MPS student, Ian Blackburn, an undergrad, Paul Simonin, and I studied the population ecology of this species' range expansion potential, by looking at migration energetics, growth characteristics, and fecundity.
Eels are among the coolest animals alive. Unfortunately, the ones that people like to eat (American eel, European eel, and Japanese eel) are…guess what…in serious decline. Len Machut (MSc SUNY ESF), Bob Schmidt, and I studied how eels use tributaries of the Hudson River. We found some of the highest densities ever reported, in the lower reaches of tributaries. We also found that barriers – especially unnatural ones (dams) – play a big role in limiting the penetration of tribs by eels.
Striped bass - I've also studied the ecology of the
larvae of two other important species in the Hudson -- striped
bass (Morone saxatilis) and white perch
The Hudson River is one of the most beautiful, historic, and interesting
estuaries! Check out these websites:
Hudson River Foundation (research and education opportunities)