Aquatic Ecosystems

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    Barriers to Oyster Recovery in Hudson River Estuary
    Hare, Matthew (New York State Water Resources Institute, 2019)
    Interest in eastern oyster restoration in the Hudson/Raritan estuary (HRE) has been building in conjunction with water quality improvements near New York City. Restoration is motivated by the ecosystem services typically provided by a large oyster population. Multiple projects have tested the performance of post-settlement oysters in different parts of the HRE, or attempted to assess available habitat. Only one study tested whether oyster larvae can survive to settlement (to produce juvenile oyster “spat”), and that effort in Jamaica Bay found larvae but no local settlement. Larvae represent the critical dispersal stage of eastern oysters, but it also is the most vulnerable life cycle stage. Restoring a sustainable population requires that we understand environmental constraints on larval survivorship. In this project we continued systematic monitoring of newly settled oyster spat south of the only known wild population in the Hudson River. Oyster settlement in 2019 decreased to the south in a pattern similar to 2018. A net southward pattern of larval dispersal is expected, so our second objective was to experimentally test whether waste water treatment plant effluent increases oyster larval developmental abnormalities or mortality. No treatment effect was observed, but logistical challenges prevented sufficient testing to support a conclusion.
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    CRP 3072/5072 Land Use/Environmental Planning/Urban Design Field Workshop for Fall 2019
    Frantz, George (New York State Water Resources Institute, 2019)
    The CRP 3072/5072 Land Use & Environmental Planning field workshop in the Fall 2018 semester conducted scenic resource inventories and prepared draft reports with recommendations for the Town of Marlborough, and Town of Lloyd in Ulster County. A third team of students, in response to feedback from the community, reviewed and revised the methodology section of the draft scenic resource inventory for the City of Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, that was completed and delivered Fall 2017 semester. Public presentations of the drafts surveys and recommendations were made by the student teams to the Town of Marlborough Planning Board and City of Poughkeepsie Open Space Committee in December 2018. In addition, during the Spring 2019 semester, faculty and student assistants completed revisions to the Town of Cornwall draft scenic resources inventory completed in the Fall 2017 semester, focusing on minor adjustments to the methodology.
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    Shifts in Hudson River Valley Flood Frequency Following Eastern Hemlock Loss and Succession
    Singh, Kanishka; Knighton, James; Todd Walter, Todd (New York State Water Resources Institute, 2019)
    Hydrologic models are often used to predict flooding risk driven by land surface features and meteorology. These models can be useful in estimating the consequences of the intersection of two ongoing events in the Catskill region: increased precipitation extremes and the rapid dieback of Eastern hemlock, a foundation tree species. However, simulation of transpiration in these models tends to be erroneous, with storage of water in the plants emerging as a cumbersome process to simulate. In order to improve the fidelity of modeled plant hydraulics, it is important to avoid errors originating from the simplification of the storage of water within plants. Research has found that simulating tree water storage improves model calibration. We investigate water storage in four common conifers as captured by StorAge Selection (SAS) functions generated via a machine learning-based model. We generate model inputs through stable water isotope-tracer based experiments conducted in both growth chamber and field site settings, examining how key environmental variables drive changes in SAS functions. We integrate the SAS framework, enhanced by our experimental data, into a hydrologic model, and assess whether model performance is improved. Finally, we utilize this model to simulate hydrological impact of hemlock loss under different climate scenarios.
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    Mapping needed and existing vegetative buffers to reduce nutrient loads
    Endreny, Theodore (New York State Water Resources Institute, 2019)
    The Hudson River Estuary and its Wallkill River tributary suffer from pollution due to excess inputs of nutrients from nonpoint source runoff. This study aimed to create outreach materials to engage land owners as advocates for riparian vegetative buffers to improve basin sustainability. The i-Tree Buffer tool was used to generate flow path derived maps of nitrogen and phosphorus loading hotspots to identify priority vegetative buffer planting sites. The study established a collaborative partnership with the Center of Native Peoples and the Environment to construct story-based outreach materials that combine traditional ecological knowledge with scientific ecological knowledge, and thereby connect more widely and deeply to help improve basin stewardship. Such stories might build on ideas expressed in the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address, the duties of water, and the animacy of nature. The study initiated via letters consultation with active and potential stewards, including five Indigenous Nations, on valuation of local water resources and design of outreach materials. Seeing with indigenous and scientific knowledge to achieve environmental gratitude and sustainability Respondents stated the ecological to spiritual value of Wallkill River basin waters and riverside forests, and encouraged story-based outreach materials that resonate with local residents, as well as high visibility buffers to attract more attention.