Associate Professor of Biology Meghan Brown was featured in an article in the Auburn Citizen for having, with her students, recently confirmed the presence of bloody-red shrimp in Cayuga Lake.
The students designed a survey to test for the presence of the bloody-red shrimp at 11 sites in Cayuga Lake this fall. Brown and students collected shrimp samples from 7 to 11 p.m. Brown says the inedible shrimp is not a direct threat to human health, but researchers don’t yet know whether it can be characterized as an invasive species.
“Generally, an invasive is a species that is known to cause ecological or economic damage,” she says. “We don’t yet know what its ultimate impact will be. They’re an omnivore. They might have less of an impact on any one thing, but their impact could be spread over many organisms.”
Among Brown’s current scholarly interests are biological limnology, zooplankton dormancy and exotic species biology. She routinely instructs courses on conservation biology, aquatic biology and biology of exotic species.
Brown joined the HWS faculty in 2006. She received her bachelor of science in biology from the University of Michigan and her biology and general science teacher certification in the states of Michigan and Vermont. Brown holds a master and Ph.D. in water resources sciences from the University of Minnesota. She has served as a Fulbright Junior Research Scholar at the CNR Istituto per lo Studio degli Ecosistemi in Pallanza, Italy, and as a zooplankton taxonomist for the Environmental Protection Agency.
She has published numerous peer reviewed papers in journals such as Journal of Paleolimnology, Limnology and Oceanography, and Journal of Great Lakes Research. She has presented her research at the Northeast Natural History Conference, as well as conference for the American Society of Limnology & and Oceanography and the Ecological Society of America.
While at the Colleges, Brown has received several research grants including the Hatch Land Grant, which funded research of the ecological controls of lake-water clarity in Cayuga Lake, the Seneca Lake Watershed Characterization, which allowed her and her HWS colleagues to study watershed limnology, and a Great Lakes National Protection Fund grant to manage the invasive species European frogbit through education outreach.
The full article is available online and below.
Bloody red shrimp found in Cayuga Lake
Carrie Chantler • November 5, 2015
Little is known about bloody red shrimp, a new non-native species found this fall in Cayuga Lake, but one thing is sure, it isn’t edible.
Meghan Brown, a biology professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, took a biology class on a nighttime cruise to search for the species she began studying in 2010 in Seneca Lake, where it is well established.
“There’s really no threat to human health,” Brown said. “They don’t bite, they don’t carry an infection.”
Brown, however, could not definitively identify whether the bloody-red shrimp is, or isn’t, an invasive species.
“Generally, an invasive is a species that is known to cause some human damage,” she said. “We don’t yet know what its ultimate impact will be.”
The inch- to inch-and-a-half nearly transparent shrimp has patches of crimson on it, she said, and is nocturnal. A night time species, the bloody-red shrimp prefers to “be tucked away” in near-shore crevices, such as those around docks and break walls. When darkness falls, it ascends to the water’s surface where it feeds on zooplankton, algae and detritus, Brown said.
“They’re an omnivore,” she said. “They might have less of an impact on any one thing, but their impact could be spread over many organisms.”
The students designed a survey to test for the presence of the bloody-red shrimp at 11 sites in Cayuga Lake on Sept. 15 and 16. Shrimp samples were collected from 7 to 11 p.m. and found in four of the 11 sites.
Students found a total of 37 shrimp on both the east and west sides of the lake.
Scientists continue to study bloody red shrimp’s potential impacts on native fish populations. In addition to being established in Seneca Lake, Brown said the species has also been found in areas of the Erie Canal east of Oneida Lake.
“It’s a species that is likely transported by boaters in bait buckets and live wells,” Brown said.
To prevent the spread of invasive species, boaters are often reminded to “clean, drain and dry” boats and equipment, on land, after using state water bodies to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
“As boaters move between systems, it’s a protocol meant to stop a whole range of species,” Brown said.
Originally from the Ponto-Caspian region of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, the crustacean was likely transported to the Great Lakes in ballast water of ships, eventually spreading to the St. Lawrence River, the Erie Canal, Seneca Lake and now in Cayuga Lake.
Staff writer Carrie Chantler can be reached at (315) 282-2244 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @CitizenChantler.