Some Other Current Projects

Conservation of Jamaica Bay

Jamaica Bay--home of the only U.S. National Park one can reach by subway--is environmentally stressed in multitudinous way but it's also a resilient, functioning ecosystem with many admirers.  In 2011 I had a conversation with the head of the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy about the existing Jamaica Bay Institute that led to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Mayor Michael Bloomberg soon announcing plans for a Jamaica Bay ecology center.  With colleagues at Hunter (William Solecki) and Brooklyn College (John Marra & Brett Branco), I helped assemble a proposal and a team of external partners that has been awarded the contract to develop what is now being called the Jamaica Bay Science & Resilience Center.  Work continues to move towards a CUNY-led institution with an assemblage of strong technical and educational partners that will increase our knowledge of Jamaica Bay and also use it as a model for increasing environmental resilience in an urban estuary, a goal with its importance only magnified by Superstorm Sandy.

There are many studies that can and should be done Jamaica Bay.  In 2008 I prepared a Research Opportunities Report for the National Park Service.  In September 2007, my colleague at Queens College, Gillian Stewart and I organized a 24-hour Bioblitz at the Bay in which 273 volunteers discovered nearly 700 plant and animal species.  More recently, Solecki and I worked with  a small team from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and others to  look at possibilities for creating salinity gradients in at least one creek leading to Jamaica Bay.  Though modeling showed only modest possible effects from available water sources, opportunities may exist to add water to upland areas that would create lotic habitats before entering a tidal creek. (Photo is of sorting beach seine catch at the Bioblitz) .

Checking Seine Net at Jamaica Bay Bioblitz, 2007

Ike Wirgin Retreiving Dead Lamprey from Delaware River for DNA Analysis

Stock Identification & Population Genetics of Fishes

To me, stock identification is a fascinating crossroads among the evolution, ecology, and management of fishes.  I have collaborated with Isaac Wirgin of NYU's Langone Medical Center since we met in the CUNY doctoral program, coauthoring nearly 50 papers on the stock identification, population genetics, and conservation biology of (mostly) Atlantic anadromous fishes.  Currently, I am assisting Wirgin and other colleagues with analyses of American shad, striped bass, Atlantic sturgeon, summer flounder, monkfish, and even a fish eating mammal--the mink.  (In photo Wirgin is gingerly lifting a decayed sea lamprey from the Delaware River to obtain tissue for DNA analysis).

Environment & Fishes of Mongolia

Mongolia is twice the size of Texas, yet is has only the population of Brooklyn--and half of this number lives in the capital city, Ulan Bator.  Mongolia is also experiencing some of the most profound climate changes in the world and is undergoing a rapid expansion of environmentally harmful mining.  Mongolia also is home to the taimen, a large, primitive salmonid of both high angling and conservation interest--taimen apex predators that reach 100 pounds and are known to take rodents and ducks off the water surface.  And in the nation's northwest, near Siberia, sits one of the world's oldest and most biologically unique lakes, Hovsgol.  I've been to Mongolia three times, the second on a lengthy expedition to the Eg - Uur  River system  and to lake Hovsgol to collect specimens of taimen and other fishes, as part of Rutger's colleague Olaf Jensen's long-term  Mongolian-American Aquatic Ecology Research Initiative.  We are continuing to analyze our DNA samples  and I remain interested in additional work and collaboration there on taimen  population genetics, other environmental  issues, and, possibly, in teaching a  summer course there for American students.  (Photo is of me with my largest taimen from 2011 expedition).

John Waldman with Taimen from Eg River, Mongolia

Electrofishing for Eels in the Bronx River

Bronx River Restoration

New York City contains one true river and it bisects the Bronx penninsula.  Interest in restoring the Bronx River has grown enormously, led by the Bronx River Alliance, made up of dozens of partners.  Merry Camhi of the Wildlife Conservation Society, my doctoral student, George Jackman, and I have been surveying and monitoring the Bronx River for usage by eels and alewives as part of a study on improving the river as habitat for diadromous fishes.  An alewife 'ladder' to allow passage beyond the 182nd Street dam will be installed in 2013.  We have found that although some eels make it past the first several dams in the system, each appears to reduce penetration upriver.  (In photo George on left, Merry on right, and my daughter Laura behind, work with a volunteer to electrofish for eels, released unharmed after data collection.)

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