New York Water Science Center

Ecosystem Health

Ecological assessments are a central focus of multidisciplinary projects and programs managed by the NYWSC and managed in cooperation with the water and soil chemistry laboratory as well as other Federal, State, county, and city agencies, academia, and nongovernmental organizations in New York and nationwide. The NYWSC studies the condition of aquatic communities to assess the effects of various manmade and natural stressors and of resource management practices on the aquatic ecosystems and environments in the State and nationwide and in cooperation with a wide array of partners and monitors climate change indicators to identify trends and data gaps for indicators of climate and habitat change. Specific studies include the effects of forest harvesting on the health of ecosystems at headwaters, the influence of remediation of watersheds on ecosystem health, and the interactions between urban landscapes and ecosystem health.

Filter Total Items: 95
Date published: March 18, 2021
Status: Active

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Search for NYWSC projects by county name.

Contacts: Gary Wall
Date published: September 3, 2020
Status: Active

Documenting Biological Recovery in Acidified Adirondack Streams in Response to the 1990 Amendment to the Clean Air Act

BACKGROUND Chemistry data from a group of Adirondack lakes monitored since the mid-1990s indicate that chemical recovery is currently underway and can be attributed to declining deposition loads of sulfate and nitrate in direct response to the 1990 amendment to the Clean Air Act (CAA) and other regulations. Changes in the water quality of several western Adirondack streams suggest that...

Contacts: Barry P Baldigo
Date published: March 18, 2020
Status: Active

Response of fish assemblages and habitat to stream restoration in the Ashokan Watershed

Background: Streams are ecologically, culturally, and economically important systems that are subject to impacts from a large array of human activities. There has been a relatively recent increase in efforts to manage, protect, and restore streams that have experienced physical, chemical, and biological degradation. Unfortunately, interest in any single restoration effort tends to be...

Contacts: Scott George
Date published: February 6, 2020
Status: Active

Assessment of fecal contamination sources to Alley Creek, Queens County, New York

PROBLEM Alley Creek, a tributary to Little Neck Bay (Queens County, New York; figure 1) has been designated as impaired by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) for primary and secondary contact and included on the 303(d) Impaired Waterways for pathogens related to combined sewer overflow contributions. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection...

Date published: January 9, 2020
Status: Active

Mohawk Microplastics

Problem - Plastic debris pollution in freshwater ecosystems is becoming a major ecosystem and public health concern. Plastic pollution is now identified as the most abundant anthropogenic debris and it is found throughout all marine environments, comprising 60-80% of all floating debris (Eriksen et al., 2013). This debris can have a lasting effect on marine life through ingestion or...

Contacts: Mike Antidormi
Date published: September 17, 2019
Status: Active

Eighteenmile Creek Area of Concern Fish Community Assessment

Background: Eighteenmile Creek was designated as an Area of Concern (AOC) in 1985 because water quality and bed sediments were contaminated by past industrial and municipal discharges, waste disposal, and pesticide usage. Five Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs) were identified in the Eighteenmile Creek AOC, including BUI #3 - the degradation of fish and wildlife populations. The remedial action...

Date published: September 5, 2019
Status: Active

Status of American Eel populations in the Mohawk River Basin

Background: The waters of the Mohawk River basin are inhabited by one of the richest fish communities on the East Coast. The American Eel, Anguilla rostrata, is a unique member of this community, exhibiting a catadramous (maturing in fresh water and spawning in salt water) life history. Like many migratory fish, the American Eel has suffered a general decline across the East Coast largely...

Date published: August 8, 2019
Status: Active

Track down survey of PCBs in three tributaries to the Niagara River Area of Concern (AOC)

Background Industrial discharges of toxic and bio-accumulating compounds to the Niagara River and its tributaries have occurred over many decades. High concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been found in samples of fish tissue from many locations, including three tributaries to the Niagara River: Tonawanda Creek, Two mile Creek, and Rattlesnake Creek (study reaches listed in...

Contacts: Barry P Baldigo, David Alvarez, Ph.D., Mark Filipski
Date published: April 26, 2019
Status: Active

Contaminants in fish tissues from AOCs in New York State: The Niagara River AOC

DEC collaborators collect fish from a Niagara River tributary using an electrofishing boat The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and Department of Health (NYSDOH), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are gathering data on chemical contaminants in fish from multiple Areas of Concern (AOCs) in New York State and plan to use this information to evaluate fish cons...

Date published: October 23, 2018
Status: Active

Harmful Algal Bloom monitoring in the Finger Lakes region, New York

Background: Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are increasingly a global concern because they pose a threat to human and aquatic ecosystem health and cause economic damages. Cyanobacterial HABs (CyanoHABs) represent a substantial threat to drinking-water supplies, aquatic ecosystem health, and safe recreational uses of freshwater resources in New York. Toxins produced by some species of...

Date published: September 4, 2018
Status: Active

Niagara River AOC-wide Benthos BUI Assessment

A USGS biologist prepares to collect a sediment sample using a petit ponar dredge. Background:The Niagara River forms the boundary between the United States and Canada and was designated as a binational Area of Concern (AOC) in 1987 because past industrial discharges and hazardous waste sites had caused extensive degradation of aquatic habitats. Within the United States (eastern) portion of...

Contacts: Scott George, Barry P Baldigo, Brian Duffy
Date published: August 30, 2018
Status: Active

Quantitative Fish Surveys of Mohawk River Tributaries

Background Fish communities of the mainstem Mohawk River and Barge Canal have been well-documented (Carlson, 2015; George et al., 2016) but comparatively less information is available regarding the current status of fish communities in tributaries to the Mohawk River. This information gap is problematic because long-term shifts in species distributions or abundances due to climate change,...