FLI hosts conference, welcomes new faculty – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

FLI hosts conference, welcomes new faculty

The community will have an opportunity to meet one of HWS’ newest faculty members later this week at the second annual Finger Lakes Research Conference, hosted by the Finger Lakes Institute.

Meghan Brown, who joined the biology department in August and holds a doctorate from the University of Minnesota, is eager to be introduced to the public and assist in the Institute’s efforts to disseminate environmental research and education about the Finger Lakes to the general public. She is one of three HWS faculty members who will present at the conference, which will be Saturday, Oct. 14 in the Geneva Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library.

A biologist who studies the lakes, Brown has worked not only in higher education but also as a high school science teacher. Her research has centered on how microscopic species interact and how new species added to the mix have changed those interactions—namely fishhook and spiny water fleas, which are among the non-native species to establish in North American lakes. These zooplankton have had substantial impact on our lakes, which are equally important but lesser known than their better known cohorts such as the zebra mussel, purple loosestrife and sea lamprey. The fishhook water flea has established in a number of the Finger Lakes.

Her talk, “Predation- and Starvation-Driven Changes in the Seasonal Phenology and Demographics of the Invasive Spiny Water Flea,” will examine how food availability and fish predation impact the spiny water flea in the Island Lake Reservoir in St. Louis County, Minn. The spiny water flea is an exotic zooplankter from Eurasia that has recently become established in areas of Western Europe and North America. She will discuss how the spiny water flea’s ecology differs between reservoirs and natural lakes and the role that food resources and fish predation play in regulating its abundance.

Anne Wibiralske, who is fairly new to the HWS faculty, joining in 2004, will speak on “Mapping Old Trees in the Finger Lakes National Forest.” Concern over how to preserve tracts of old forest in the Finger Lakes National Forest has been an important issue in the recent revisions to the forest’s management plan, however, a current map of the oldest forest stands on the property and adjacent lands does not exist.

Working in collaboration with community stakeholders and the U.S. Forest Service, Wibiralske and students in her Fall 2005 Environmental Studies Senior Seminar began a mapping project, using GIS software and aerial photos dating from 1944, to identify stands of old forest. This project has built a strong foundation for collaboration among forest planners and managers, faculty and students, and community stakeholders who have not worked together previously.

John Halfman, a familiar resource to the community by virtue of his being here a dozen years, will discuss the “Comparative Limnology of Honeoye, Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, Cayuga, Owasco and Skaneateles Lakes – 2005 and 2005.”

Halfman and four William Smith students – Rachel L. Sukeforth ’07, Brittany Holler ’08, Clancy Brown ’09 and Christina Kinnevey ’09 – examined the temperature, depth, light transmission, acidity, dissolved oxygen and concentrations of nitrates and phosphates in seven Finger Lakes last summer. Katie Bush ’06, Ian West ’06 and Rachel Sukeforth ’07 worked on the project in 2005. Brown, Kinnevey, and Thomas Rood ’08 will also be represented at the poster abstract portion of the conference.

The conference will highlight Finger Lakes scientific research and provide opportunities for students, faculty and other scientists to meet others interested in environmental science and scholarship. Registration is requested and details are available by calling Sarah Meyer at (315) 781-4382 or e-mailing fli@hws.edu.