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Restoration Science Center

Ecosystem Restoration

RSC faculty are working to regain ecological function from degraded landscapes through restoration. Research projects span across terrestrial, wetland and aquatic ecosystems, and faculty are working on urban, post-industrial, and rural restoration sites.

RSC faculty:

 Research project restoring a rare inland salt marsh

Photo (Sam Quinn): Research project restoring a rare inland salt marsh.


Faculty Research Projects

The St. Lawrence River Fish Habitat Conservation Strategy (FHCS)

Dr. John Farrell, RSC co-Director, works across multiple agencies to manage fish habitat in the St. Lawrence River.

The FHCS is a significant partnership among resource management agencies, conservation organizations, and academia in the proactive management of fish habitat to improve natural reproduction of native fishes. The fish habitat conservation strategy provides a framework to develop, implement, and evaluate innovative approaches to enhance aquatic habitat and fish populations of the International St. Lawrence River. Much of this work is performed out of ESF's Thousand Island Biological Station.

Project partners include: US Fish and Wildlife Service, NYS Department of Environment and Conservation, USDA National Resources Conservation Service, Thousand Islands Land Trust, Ducks Unlimited

Recent Publications

ESF collaborates to restore pike spawning habitat in a St. Lawrence River coastal wetland” course

Photo: ESF collaborates to restore pike spawning habitat in a St. Lawrence River coastal wetland.


RSC Student Research Awards for Ecosystem Restoration

Cyanobacterial Harmful Algal Blooms: Addressing Critical Policy Gaps

M.S. student Sophia Padilla is working with Professor Sharon Moran to better understand how policies are developed to manage and restore waters affected by harmful algal blooms.


Policies for HABs control are especially important for lakes like Skaneateles Lake, which serves as the main raw water source for Syracuse, NY” course

Photo: Policies for HABs control are especially important for lakes like Skaneateles Lake, which serves as the main raw water source for Syracuse, NY.

Law and policy are indispensable tools for protecting water quality, yet, at present, the US has little in the way of effective regulatory strategies to control cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (CHABs). CHABs are defined as large masses of algae that contain toxin producing cyanobacteria that can cause severe health effects, even death, in humans and animals. CHAB events are increasing in frequency in recent years, in connection with warming water and nutrient inputs. Our study focuses on policies addressing CHABs in freshwater ecosystems, where CHABs threaten drinking and recreational water bodies. This research documents existing CHAB policies, in the United States and abroad, and seeks to characterize policy elements and strategies used to approach the difficult problem of CHABs management. Our project also tries to understand how the CHABs issue has been understood among policy makers (issue framing), as well as the processes by which it has become part of the regulatory agenda for legislators (agenda setting). We hope to understand how the CHABs issue has been characterized and understood by governments and regulatory bodies to date and highlight the gaps that remain.


Modeling the spatial extent and intensity of beaver (Castor canadensis) impacts on stream networks and forest structure in Adirondack State Park, New York

M.S. student Rachel Zevin is working with Professor John Stella to assess impacts of beaver on stream networks to understand the restoration potential for young-successional forests.

Due to historic and contemporary forest management practices, the northeastern United States is facing a lack of early-successional forest habitat, which is critical to support many species dependent on young forests. The North American beaver (Castor canadensis) can act as a natural source of disturbance to create these critically needed young-successional habitats. By harvesting trees and creating wetlands and meadows within the forested landscape, beaver presence can facilitate the restoration of young riparian forests. To support both forest stewardship and restoration in the Adirondack Park region of NY, this research project aims to reliably predict the spatial extent and intensity of beaver impacts on streams and forests. Our main objectives for this project are to (1) predict the probability of beaver colonization along stream reaches within a stream network and (2) predict impacts to forest composition (i.e., tree species) and structure (i.e., age). The model will be applied to the entire Adirondack State Park in northern New York State, and ultimately be available as a tool for collaborative forest management.

 Professor John Stella using a Clinometer to measure the cross-sectional valley slope along a forest transect adjacent to a beaver pond on Arbutus Lake, Adirondacks NY.” course

Photo: Professor John Stella using a Clinometer to measure the cross-sectional valley slope along a forest transect adjacent to a beaver pond on Arbutus Lake, Adirondacks NY.