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: 89
Date published: September 23, 2015
Status: Active

Effect of Flooding from Tropical Storm Irene on Fish Assemblages in the Upper Esopus Creek Basin

Background The Upper Esopus Creek, a popular trout-fishing and recreational stream in the heart of the Catskill Mountains, received historic flooding from Tropical Storm Irene on August 28, 2011. Streamflows approached or surpassed the 1% annual exceedance probability (>100 year) flood levels at several USGS streamgages in this basin. Short-term flood impacts on biological assemblages have...

Date published: September 22, 2015
Status: Active

A New Tool for Estimating Daily Mean Streamflow Statistics at Rural Streams in New York State, excluding Long Island

The lakes, rivers, and streams of New York State provide an essential water resource for the State. The information provided by time series hydrologic data is essential to understanding ways to promote healthy instream ecology and to strengthen the scientific basis for sound water management decision making in New York. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy and...

Date published: September 21, 2015
Status: Active

Human- and Ecological-Health Concerns Related to Transport and Persistence of Contaminants on Shinnecock Nation Tribal Lands

Problem Tribal Lands of the Shinnecock Nation Tribal community were inundated during Hurricane Sandy’s storm tide, resulting in detrimental effects on the Tribal Land’s natural resources. The existing science being used to inform decisions on remediation is biased toward activities are necessarily focused on the immediate aftermath of storms An assessment of the sources of...

Contacts: Irene J Fisher
Date published: September 10, 2015
Status: Active

Mercury Bioaccumulation in Fish in New York's Streams and Rivers

Background Although New York State has more than 70,000 miles of streams and rivers, little is known about the status, distribution, and trends of mercury (Hg) levels in stream fish, or the environmental drivers of these patterns. Streams and their riparian zones provide critical habitat for fish, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, and serve as the interface between aquatic and...

Date published: September 3, 2015
Status: Active

Assessment of Acidic Deposition Effects on the Chemistry and Benthos of Streams of the East-Central Adirondack Region

Project Summary. The Western Adirondack Stream Survey (WASS), conducted in 2003-2005, showed that acidic deposition was causing toxic forms of Al to move from soils to streams in 66% of the 565 watersheds assessed in the study region. The WASS encompassed only 20% of the Adirondack region, and for the remaining 80% (referred to hereafter as the East-Central Adirondack region), there is l...

Contacts: Gregory Lawrence, Barry P Baldigo, A J Smith, Karen Roy
Date published: September 3, 2015
Status: Active

Adirondack Long-Term Stream and Soil Monitoring

The current Adirondack Long-Term Monitoring Program combines monitoring of streams and soils based on a watershed design. Not only are headwater streams an important component of Adirondack ecosystems, they are closely tied to the terrestrial environment through runoff that is strongly influenced by soil and vegetation processes. This linkage makes headwater streams a useful tool for monitor...

Date published: September 2, 2015
Status: Active

Effects of acid rain on the ecological health of Long Island’s forests and ponds

BACKGROUND Air emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels in electrical power plants, building heating systems and vehicles are the major source of gaseous sulfur (SOx) and nitrogen (NOx) oxides in the atmosphere. These oxides dissolve in atmospheric moisture forming ions which are deposited by rain, snowfall and dust particles as acidic deposition. Acidic deposition releases soluble...

Date published: September 2, 2015
Status: Active

Assessment of sugar maple health and associated soil conditions in the Adirondack Region of New York

This project provides a regional assessment of sugar maple health and associated soil conditions in the Adirondack Region of New York, where sugar maple are a major component of the forest. The focus of the study is to develop an improved understanding of relationships among watershed characteristics, soil chemistry, and acidic deposition effects on sugar maple trees and other tree species...

Contacts: Gregory Lawrence, Timothy Sullivan, Scott W. Bailey
Date published: September 2, 2015
Status: Completed

Appalachian Trail MEGA-Transect Atmospheric Deposition Effects Study

The Appalachian Trail (AT), a 14-state footpath from Maine to Georgia, is a unit of the National Park Service that is cooperatively managed and maintained by the National Park Service (NPS), the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, AT Club volunteers, the USDA Forest Service, and other public land-management agencies. Upper elevation and ridge-top ecosystems, which comprise much of the trail corr...

Date published: August 31, 2015
Status: Active

Development of a Graphical User Interface (GUI) to Predict Streamflow Statistics using USGS Streamstats and Precipitation from Downscaled Global Climate Change Models

Background Climate change during the past century has resulted in changes to precipitation amounts, form (rain vs. snow), as well as frequency and intensity in the northeastern US (Huntington et al., 2009). Additional changes in precipitation are forecast for the 21st Century as the global and regional climate is expected to warm substantially (Hayhoe et al., 2007). These ongoing and proje...

Contacts: Douglas A Burns
Date published: August 31, 2015
Status: Active

Effects of flow alteration on ecological health of streams across the Atlantic Highlands Ecoregion

Problem: The Clean Water Act (PL 92-500) requires that the health of the Nation’s rivers and streams be assessed on a regular basis, and in the Northeast such assessments often use information from aquatic biological communities that live in the stream. Biomonitoring programs implemented by individual states evaluate biological data to assess stream health on the premise that certain...

Date published: August 28, 2015
Status: Active

The Effectiveness of Total Mercury as a Surrogate for Methylmercury in Aquatic Invertebrates

A. BACKGROUND Aquatic macroinvertebrates, such as dragonfly larvae or crayfish have great potential for Mercury (Hg) monitoring, both as indicator organisms (or "sentinels'), and to provide critical information on Hg in lower food webs to assist in interpreting fish Hg levels. Despite these advantages, macroinvertebrates are not widely used in Hg monitoring because of the current need to...