HWS researchers compare watersheds dominated by agricultural lands to those surrounded by more natural vegetation.
June 11, 2003 GENEVA, N.Y. – A Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ biology professor and two William Smith students presented the results of water quality research at the annual meeting of the North American Benthological Society meetings in Athens, Georgia, held May 27-31. More than 800 freshwater ecologists, from every continent, attended this year’s meeting.
Claire MacNamara, Jennifer Hamblett and Professor Jim Ryan presented research findings on how changing land use patterns have influenced water quality in the streams along Seneca Lake. Ryan and his students monitored the water quality and ecosystem diversity of five streams along the western shore of Seneca Lake— Kashong Creek, Keuka Outlet, Plum Point Creek, Big Stream, and Glen Creek in Watkins Glen State Park. The research compared watersheds dominated by agricultural lands to those surrounded by more natural vegetation.
“Our results show that runoff containing excess fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides can significantly alter the stream ecosystems, resulting in dramatic changes in the aquatic insect communities, which play a vital role in supporting fish populations and recycling energy in stream ecosystems,” says Ryan.
The students conducted the research as part of the HWS summer research programs, with funds provided by grants from the Merck/AAAS Undergraduate Science Research Program and the Perkin Fund. They are preparing a manuscript for publication based on their findings.
MacNamara, from Red Hook, N.Y., is a senior with a major in biology and a minor in Latin American studies. She studied abroad in South America last spring. On campus she is a member of the women’s rugby team, the intramural softball league and the William Smith Laurel Society, an honor society for juniors. She is a student athletic trainer and involved with the Peers Educating Peers program. She was named a Helen Heath Scholar for her academic achievements. This summer MacNamara is working at SUNY Oneonta’s Biological Field Station in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Hamblett, from Gilmanton, N.H., graduated this spring with a major in biology and a minor in women’s studies. Outside of the classroom, Hamblett chaired the Women’s Collective and Women’s Resource Center, a support center for William Smith students, and was co-chair of the Colleges’ Folk Festival committee. She is a member of Hai Timiai and the William Smith senior honor society.
Ryan came to Hobart and William Smith in 1987 after earning his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts and M.S. degree from the University of Michigan. His research has taken him to Ecuador, Trinidad, Madagascar, Ghana, and most recently to Uganda.
The Biology Department at Hobart and William Smith Colleges has a long history of student/faculty research, and many of the projects have resulted in scientific publications co-written by Hobart and William Smith students. For more information on the HWS Biology Department, please visit http://academic.hws.edu/bio/.