Exciting Research Happening in the Raritan Headwaters for the Spring-Summer 2017 Field Season!
Volunteer Citizen Scientists needed! Our annual stream monitoring program continues this year at 67 sites in the Watershed. Our top-notch program provides 100 Citizen Scientists with knowledge, skills and equipment to collect data on the health of our streams. NJDEP and other organizations use this high quality data to inform decisions about which streams are in need of protection and restoration. To learn more about the program and to volunteer, please contact Angela Gorczyca, Water Quality Program Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit https://www.raritanheadwaters.org/protect/stream-monitoring-program/.
RHA continues to expand its efforts to identify causes of impairment. We will now be collecting baseline data on a variety of important chemical parameters (dissolved oxygen, pH, conductivity, turbidity, nitrates, phosphates and temperature) at all of our stream monitoring sites when the biological and habitat monitoring takes place in June. Our volunteers also conduct quarterly, seasonal chemical monitoring at sites that have been showing stress macroinvertebrate communities for the past two years. In addition, for the first time this year, we will be collecting baseline data on bacteria from all sites. We will also continue the five-week summer sampling program we piloted last year at sites that were impaired for the past two years as well as several popular, non-regulated swimming areas along our rivers.
Exciting new research projects are planned for this summer and volunteers are needed for these as well. RHA Science Director Dr. Kristi MacDonald received a Rutgers/Raritan Mini-Grant from the Rutgers Sustainable Raritan Initiative to work with Dr. Nicole Fahrenfeld (Rutgers Dept. Civil & Environmental Engineering) on a project entitled, “Controls on the Fate and Ecotoxicity of Microplastics in the Raritan River.” We are also initiating a pilot study on the sources and distribution of the herbicide atrazine in our streams.
Recognizing the interconnection between water and the health of our ecosystems, Raritan Headwaters is focusing on biodiversity as indicators of healthy ecosystems through a variety of projects. We are assessing aquatic habitat connectivity of our streams and wetlands to determine whether they are supporting the movement of fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. We are working with NJDEP to identify and certify vernal pools, which are critical habitat for a variety of amphibian and invertebrate species in our watershed. We are also incorporating a new program to survey for amphibians, in addition to our existing work documenting macroinvertebrates, as a measure of stream health.
To learn more about our new research projects and to volunteer, please contact Kristi MacDonald.