WCSU Covid-19 Information Fall 2021

MS in Integrated Biological Diversity

Student spotlight

Maria Sampling Zooplankton Farm

Lake Waramaug and Maria Rodriguez-Hernandez

The Task Force is partnering with Western Connecticut State University’s (WSCU) MS Program in Integrated Biological Diversity which provides stewardship opportunities for their graduate students. We feel lucky to be part of a collaborative program that is fostering the next generation of environmental managers, and we look forward to implementing new clean water projects that build on the results of graduate student research. We would also like to introduce you to the newest member of our clean water team, Maria Rodriguez-Hernandez. Maria is enrolled in WCSU Integrated Biological Diversity and will be assisting us with evaluating and improving our Zooplankton Farm. Maria’s work is going to be extremely important because we believe that a thriving in-lake Zooplankton population is vital to improving water quality. We have witnessed what happens to the Lake when there are no Zooplankton. In the late 1960’s, Lake Waramaug was stocked with a small fish called Alewife to promote the Bass population. Unfortunately, instead of promoting Bass, the Alewife decimated the Lake’s Zooplankton population, which is a predator of cyanobacteria. This was one of the main reasons the Lake turned green throughout the 1970’s and 80’s. Without its main predator, cyanobacteria thrived and caused massive, toxicblooms. In 2016, the Task Force installed the Zooplankton Farm, which we estimate releases a million Zooplankton into the Lake on a weekly basis in order to restore the population to healthy pre-Alewife levels. This is a new lake management strategy that can be a model for other Lakes that experienced the same devastating effects of a ruinous Alewife introduction. However, we need to better understand the dynamics in the farm and how it is affecting the Lake. This is why we are so happy to be partnering with WCSU. With Maria on board, we can continue to figure out how to best repair mistakesof the past by boosting Zooplankton populations and restoring the delicate in-lake food web.


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