In June, Hobart and William Smith Colleges were named the recipient of a $100,000 grant to study and monitor the impacts of starry stonewort on New York State ecosystems. The grant, which will be completed by the Colleges’ Finger Lakes Institute (FLI), is the largest in the region.
Starry stonewort (Nitellopsis obtusa) is an invasive macroalgae native to Eurasia that was first detected in New York in 1978. According to the State Department of Environmental Conservation, “initial reports indicate that it has the potential to negatively impact native species including outcompeting native plants that provide food and shelter for native invertebrates and fish. Its dense mats of vegetation may also negatively impact native fish spawning and phytoplankton (small native aquatic plants that are eaten by fish and invertebrates).”
New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the disbursal of more than $2.8 million in grants to 42 projects across the state to tackle the mitigation of the harmful effects of invasive species.
“New York State is leading the way in invasive species management to ensure our environment remains sustainable, healthy and strong,” Cuomo said. “Through joint efforts by our state, community and organizational partners, we are developing new programs and initiatives to combat the threat of invasive species that could damage New York’s waterways, agricultural crops, and invaluable forest lands.”
“As someone who lives along the shore of Lake Erie, I know the importance of continued investments in efforts to combat and protect against the spread of invasive species,” said Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, who spoke on campus earlier this year. “New York is home to an abundance of natural beauty, which attracts residents and visitors alike. We want to make sure we protect our environment and that our forests, lakes and rivers are secured for future generations.”
In 2017, the FLI received a grant for $300,000 from the EPA to develop a collaborative group of scientists, resource managers and citizens to address starry stonewort. FLI Director Lisa Cleckner notes that this research award will help us better understand the occurrence of Starry stonewort in specific areas of the Finger Lakes and New York.
Since it was established in 2004, the Institute has received more than $13 million in federal, state, foundation and private funding to conduct aquatic research and educate the next generation of environmental scientists. The FLI’s launch marked the beginning of key research and information dissemination about aquatic ecology, water quality, and invasive species management throughout the region’s 11 lakes.