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New York Great Lakes Protection Fund Small Grants (NYGLPF)

GLRC/NYGLPF Small Grants Program 2016 RFP


The Great Lakes Protection Fund Small Grants Program is administered by the Great Lakes Research Consortium, in cooperation with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York Great Lakes Basin Advisory Council, with earnings that accrue from New York State's investment in the regional Great Lakes Protection Fund. The protection fund (NYGLPF) small grants program was developed to provide 'seed' money for new, cooperative approaches to researching and protecting the environmental quality of the Great Lakes.


NYGLPF Awarded Projects - 2015 Funding Cycle

Non-native bloody red shrimp in the Great Lakes Basin: Developing novel mothods for early-detection and quantifying interaction with fish in New York State


Principal Investigator:  Meghan Brown

Department of Biology, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Collaborators:  Brent Boscarino, Bruce Smith

The bloody-red mysid, Hemimysis anomala (hereafter Hemimysis) is a recent Ponto-Caspian invader that was first reported in North America in 2006 and has become established in the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River, inland lakes (Oneida, Seneca, and Cayuga Lakes, New York), the Seneca-Cayuga Canal and the Erie Canal.  Hemimysis represent a new type of organism in these systems and is a potential threat to native species in the Great Lakes basin.  This grant will: (1) develop novel methods of early detection for Hemimysis, which are currently lacking and needed for research, management and monitoring programs, and (2) elucidate which, and to what extent, naturalized fish species consume Hemimysis.


The use of low-altitude unmanned helicopter remote sensing to detect invasive plant species in the Erie Canal System: method development applied to water chestnut (Trapa natans)


Principal Investigator:  Tao Tang

Department of Geography & Planning, Buffalo State College

Collaborators:  Mary Perrelli, Christopher Pennuto, Joseph J. Gould

This project will develop a transferrable protocol to use low-altitude unmanned vehicle technology to perform rapid detection and coverage estimation of invasive species.  We will perform a pilot study of water chestnut in Tonawanda Creek and the Erie Canal system from its western terminus east to Rochester by sampling 100, 500-m lengths of shoreline.  Researchers will also perform visual searches over the same shorelines from a boat to estimate UAV and image analysis accuracy.  Sightings and coverage estimates will be uploaded into iMapInvasives, an internet-based invasive species distribution database used by the NY PRSM network, NY DEC, NY Park, and several other northeastern states.  This proof-of-concept research will provide the state’s natural resource community with estimates of costs, identification accuracy, and coverage estimation for rapid detection of invasive species.


The past is the key to the future: Can we use water isotopes to reconstruct rain and lake effect snowfall during past warm climates?


Principal Investigator:  Elizabeth Thomas

Department of Geology, University at Buffalo

Collaborator:  Loren Smith

The purpose of this project is threefold: 1. Assess the seasonality of leaf wax hydrogen isotopes (d2Hwax) in Western New York as starting point for a larger project to reconstruct rain and snow variability during warm climates.  2. Address an outstanding question in the climate reconstruction discipline: what season does d2Hwax record?  There are currently many hypotheses based on studies of modern plants (Kahmen et al., 2013: Sachse et al., 2015; Tipple et al., 2013), but there are no studies based on modern lake sediments, which are analogous to the samples that we use to reconstruct past climate.  This is a simple but important study, with the potential to produce highly cited publications.  3. Develop and assess the effectiveness of an outreach program using water resource issues as a starting point to discuss climate change.


NYGLPF Awarded Projects - 2014 Funding Cycle

Understanding the synergistic impact of aquatic invasive species, global climate change, and harmful algal bloom dynamics on Lake Erie

Principal Investigator: Sarah Delavan
Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering,
State University of New York at Buffalo
Collaborators: Joseph Atkinson, William Edwards

The specific objective of this project is to quantify water quality and velocity characteristics near the sediments in relatively shallow sites in Lake Erie that have been colonized by invasive quagga mussels and to compare them to non-colonized sites. This summer Drs. Edwards, Delavan, and Atkinson, along with UB PhD student, Brandon Sansom, and NU undergraduate student, Kimberly Alexander were able to sample multiple sites in Lake Erie in both the eastern and western basins. During the month of July, the team collected water samples and water velocity measurements at several heights above the sediment in the western basin of Lake Erie near the Buffalo Outer Harbor and the mouth of the Niagara River. The team was also able to collect similar measurements in the eastern basin of Lake Erie during the historic Harmful Algal Bloom outbreak of August 2014 that negatively affected the drinking water of millions of people along the shoreline of Lake Erie. The team was able to capture samples to determine water velocities, dissolved and particulate phosphorus concentrations, nitrogen concentration, chlorophyll concentrations, turbidity, density, conductivity, depth measurements, and sediment type. Over the next few months, the team members will be analyzing the data to be used in Kimberly Alexander’s senior undergraduate thesis and potentially used in a MS thesis at UB. The team will also be creating a sampling plan for the summer 2015 field season.

Two New Techniques for Evaluating Connectivity of Septic Fields to Great Lake Watersheds and Embayments

Principal Investigator: Paul Richards
Department of Earth Sciences, SUNY Brockport
Collaborators: David Whitcroft, Brian Beha, Andrew Mendola

Our project, Two New Techniques for Evaluating Connectivity of Septic Fields to Great Lake Watersheds and Embayments, tests whether Pictometry True Color Oblique Imagery can be used to map septic fields in watersheds. We have started the project and have focused our efforts in Oakfield Township, located within the Upper Oak Orchard Creek Watershed. Of the 37 septic fields mapped by the Genesee Orleans County Department of Health, 49% were able to be identified with LiDAR and oblique imagery. The sites that were not identifiable tended to be located underneath tree canopies or were indicated as simply “septic tanks” according to Genesee County DOH Records. Imagery taken in the late spring (April) seemed to be more useful for identifying the leach fields. Leach fields were identifiable as a set of dark lines where it appeared the grass was longer and darker (Figures A-C). Some septic fields appear to have dark discolorations that appear to be related to drainage (see A). Raised septic fields were also sometimes identifiable from hill shades developed from 1 meter DEMs (LiDAR). So far we have mapped 117 septic fields that predate the available mapping. In the second part of the project, we are testing whether a new DNA groundwater tracer can be used to determine the time it takes for septic leachate to reach a water body.

Assessment of Plastic Pollution Migration into the Great Lakes Food Web

Principal Investigator: Sherri Mason
Department of Chemistry, SUNY Fredonia
Collaborators: Jason P. Lewis, Donald Einhouse

The intention of this project was to examine the gastrointestinal tracts of a wide variety of Lake Erie fish species, as well as the Double-Crested Cormorant, a primarily fish-eating waterfowl, in order to assess the potential migration and bioaccumulation of plastic pollution into the Great Lakes food web. To-date we have analyzed 18 species (17 fish species and the cormorant) from multiple trophic levels and have eight more fish species awaiting analysis. Every species analyzed thus far has contained some amount of plastic, though some individual specimens have not. Depending upon the species anywhere from 75-100% of specimens contained microplastic particles. Counts per specimen and per species are highly variable, as could be expected given differing size, trophic level and feeding habitats. It does appear that lower trophic level organisms have smaller counts, which increase with the trophic level, but this might simply be due to the larger size of the organisms, rather than bi-omagnification. More in depth data analysis will be required to fully glean a complete understanding of the preliminary results obtained thus far (in addition to those which are still in process).


NYGLPF Awarded Project - 2011 Funding Cycle

Hydrofracking the Marcellus Shale: The Impact of a Gas Drilling Accident on Wallace Mine Fen, Moshannon State Forest, PA

Principal Investigator: Douglas A. Wilcox
Department of Environmental Science and Biology, SUNY Brockport
Collaborator: Andie Graham

In 2009, Marcellus Shale gas-drilling company, EOG Resources, was fined $30,000 by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) after several violations occurred at two well sites located on private land adjacent to Mashannon State Forest in Clearfield County, PA. Of these violations, there were three separate accidents that resulted in the deposition of flowback water and frack fluids into Alex Branch, a small, sandy-bottom steam that flows through Wallace Mine Fen. Contaminated water also infiltrated the ground upslope from the fen. Water testing conducted by the PA DEP indicated elevated levels of barium, strontium, manganese, chloride, total dissolved solids, and specific conductance, all of which are typical of Marcellus well discharge water. At the time of the accident, no research was conducted to evaluate the potential impacts to the Wallace Mine Fen. In 2012, we initiated a study to determine the ecological impacts of the accidents on Wallace Mine Fen. We used a nearby wetland, Crystal Spring Bog (actually a fen), as a control and sampled amphibians, birds, vegetation, fish, aquatic macroinvertebrates, and water quality (pH and specific conductance) at both sites. Crystal Spring Bog and Wallace Mine Fen are very similar wetlands. Both have similar underlying geology that is dominated by sandstone, shale, clay, and coal. Both have similar hydrology; they are fens with similar groundwater and surface water chemistry. There are also similarities in taxa composition; no major differences were detected in birds, aquatic invertebrates, fish, or vegetation between the two wetlands. There were, however, significant differences in amphibians between the two wetlands, despite both wetlands providing ample suitable habitat for amphibians. Therefore, results suggest that the accidents at EOG well 8H and 9H may have decreased amphibian species richness at Wallace Mine Fen. Not knowing the exact date of the gas well drilling accidents or the exact chemical composition of the fracking fluids used a the wells make it difficult to determine how amphibians were affected. This study underscores the importance of collecting baseline data in areas where hydrofracking is anticipated so that impacts of any future accidents can be evaluated more thoroughly.


NYGLPF Awarded Projects - 2009 Funding Cycle


Preliminary Risk Assessment of the Parasites of
Aquatic Exotic Invertebrates in the Great Lakes Region

Principal Investigator: Lyubov Burlakova, Research Scientist, Ph.D. Great Lakes Center, Buffalo State College

Exotic species may serve as vectors of introduction for their specific parasites and may also become hosts for aboriginal disease agents. Although spreading invaders typically lose most of their coevolved parasites, the few introduced exotic parasites may have devastating impacts on their novel hosts, including large-scale mortalities. The aim of this cooperative research is to conduct a preliminary parasitological risk analysis for exotic invertebrates introduced into the Great Lakes region. The results of this project can become a baseline for a long-term basin-wide program to monitor the parasitological consequences of introduction of exotic species, and will also be used in preparation of a larger grant proposal to a federal agency.

image Pre-Restoration Wetland Characterization
and Chemical Mass Balance Study:

Woodlawn Beach State Park, New York
Principal Investigator: Stephen Vermette, PhD
Buffalo State College

Woodlawn Beach State Park protects a 12 acre wetland that is listed on the Park?s master plan for preservation and enhancement. Proposed is an effort to assess both the physical and chemical characteristics of the wetland, followed by the development of an effective management plan. Proposal priorities address a critical aquatic habit where the current treatment effectiveness of this wetland is to be evaluated and compared with alternative approaches for treatment.

Riverwatch Low-Cost Water Monitoring Buoy
Pilot Project

Principal Investigator: Kerry Bentkowski &
Robbyn Drake
Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper was awarded funding for direction of a pilot project to develop a low-cost water monitoring buoy and communication system. The buoy will be designed to function as a tool for gathering important water quality data from major tributaries to the Great Lakes at a cost affordable to public school systems and small community organizations. The real time data produced will be made available for use in the classroom as a teaching tool as well as to community organizations and the general public for use in understanding water quality issues and advocating for improvement.

image Lake Ontario Nearshore Nutrient Transport
Study (LONNS) Analysis of caffeine as a
tracer point of source nutrient loading

Principal Investigator: William J. Edwards, PhD
Associate Professor of Biology, Niagara
University Director, Environmental Leadership Institute

This research proposes to analyze water samples collected during the intensive survey in 2008 of the Lake Ontario Nearshore Nutrient Study for caffeine as a conserved tracer of point source nutrient loading. The LONNS project is assessing the hypothesis that nutrients are being trapped in the nearshore region, limiting offshore productivity and impacting the nearshore through benthic algae blooms and beach closures. In samples taken offshore of Rochester, NY, there was evidence of upwelling, non-point source loading and point sewage effluent in the nearshore region. Analysis of caffeine will allow separation of the nearshore sources of nutrients and better modeling for the LONNS project, providing more accurate assessment of remediation actions for lake managers. This project will analyze the samples collected during the June and August Rochester LONNS sampling and will integrate these samples into the GIS, database and modeling efforts.


NYGLPF Awarded Projects - 2008 Funding Cycle


Tracing the invasion pathway of Hemimysis
into Lake Ontario and beyond

Principal Investigator: Amy B. Welsh
Department of Biological Sciences, State University of
New York at Oswego
image Characterization of subsistence fishing in
Monroe County

Principal Investigator: Katrina Smith Korfmacher,
University of Rochester Medical Center
Aquatic Invasions in the Great Lakes: Responding to Pathogens
Principal Investigator:Mark Bain
Assoc. Prof. Aquatic Systems Ecology, Natural Resources, Cornell University
image Riverwatch Water Quality Monitoring and Outreach Internship
Principal Investigator: Robbyn Drake
Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper