Lake Erie To Undergo Ecological Check-Up
BUFFALO, N.Y., Nov. 16, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Scientists from the Great Lakes Center at Buffalo State College will be taking a close look at Lake Erie’s ecological health, thanks to three grants totaling $1.7 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes National Program Office.
The largest grant, $972,583, funds the purchase of instruments that will transmit real-time information to scientists every 10 minutes, day and night, summer and winter, from depths ranging from three to 50 feet. Charlotte Roehm, a research scientist with the Center and assistant professor in the Geography and Planning Department, heads the project. She is collaborating with private-sector engineering and manufacturing firms to develop the customized instruments, which will be the first to collect data about Lake Erie’s ice cover from beneath it. “We have some information about the thickness of the lake ice over the years,” she said, “but it’s not systematic or comprehensive.” When the ice cover is gone, the instruments will capture meteorological data from the atmosphere.
The instruments will be strategically placed near sites that the EPA has designated as “areas of concern”–areas where pollution levels pose a threat. “The project is funded for two years,” said Roehm, “but I hope we will be collecting data for at least 10.” Data, the lifeblood of science, will enable researchers to deepen their understanding of the many systems that, together, affect the quality of Lake Erie’s water.
Christopher Pennuto, research scientist with the Center and professor of biology, heads the second project, funded for $615,813. He has been investigating disturbing evidence that Lake Erie’s health is in jeopardy, even though nutrient inputs have been reduced to levels that were once thought to be safe. Pennuto said, “This grant allows us to broaden our understanding of where, how much, and how quickly nutrients move throughout Lake Erie.”
Invasive species are the subject of the third grant of $111,264, headed by Randal Snyder, associate professor of biology and a fish physiologist. Snyder and other Great Lakes Center scientists will assess potential invasive species from the Ponto-Caspian region, which borders Russia. Alexander Karatayev, director of the Center, and Lyubov Burlakova, a research scientist, will travel to the Ponto-Caspian region to study research that is available only in Russian. Karatayev and Burlakova, who are both fluent in Russian, expect to collect data regarding more than 40 fish species native to the region. “Once we know what species are likely to present a problem,” said Snyder, “we will develop fact sheets with pictures and information that will help to identify an invasive species as early as possible.”
The highly competitive grants were awarded by the EPA’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) to projects that address the most significant problems in the Great Lakes. “Buffalo State was the only college in Western New York to receive three grants,” said Karatayev. “The GLRI funding is allowing us to expand our efforts to keep the Great Lakes’ fresh water safe for the 26 million people who drink it.”
SOURCE Buffalo State College