R3C Webinars on Recent Raritan Research

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Two free webinars to showcase recent research on the Raritan.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021 from 9:00 am to 10:15 am (link to view Zoom Recording)

Friday, December 10, 2021 from 12:00 noon to 1:30 pm (link to join meeting)

  • Robert Chant
  • Nicole Fahrenfeld
  • Subsis Giri
  • Michele Bakacs and Heather Fenyk

Proposed Presentation Descriptions

  • Thomas Grothues, Associate Research Professor, Marine & Coastal Sciences, Rutgers – Fish assemblage of the Raritan Thalweg.  We describe spatial and seasonal dynamics of the fish assemblage of the navigable Raritan River from South Amboy Reach at the confluence with Raritan Bay at South Amboy (River Mile 0) to the Albany Street Bridge (Raritan Ave) off Rutgers New Brunswick (River Mile 12). We targeted primary settled juvenile and small adult fish from eight otter trawl stations in the thalweg over the course of one year. Only bay anchovy, a ubiquitous planktivorous species, and occasionally white perch, a resident predator of small fish and invertebrates, were abundant, but more than a dozen other fish species were collected at least once, and blue crabs, an important and mobile macroinvertebrate species, were also abundant.
  • Julie Lockwood, Professor and Chair, Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources, Rutgers – Using environmental DNA to track the recovery of shad and other fish after dam removal on the Raritan.  Mid-Atlantic populations of river herring (Alosa pseudoharengus, alewife, and A. aestivalis, blueback herring) have declined precipitously in recent years. River herring are listed as “Species of Special Concern” by the National Marine Fisheries Service. With over 1,700 dams in New Jersey, barriers to spawning migration are significant impediments to restoring river herring populations. Over the past seven years, four major dams have been removed within the Raritan River watershed, aiming to improve fish passage and restore freshwater spawning habitat for river herring (the Calco dam in 2011; the Roberts Street dam in 2012; the Nevius Street dam in 2013; and an additional dam on the Millstone River in 2017). Given all this investment in dam removal, we must effectively evaluate the success of such efforts. Environmental DNA (eDNA) has recently emerged as a powerful tool for surveying rare fish species.
  • Isabelle Stinnette, Restoration Program Manager, NY-NJ Harbor and Estuary Program – Restoring aquatic habitat through climate-ready infrastructure. Aquatic connectivity is a key restoration goal for the New York – New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program (HEP) and its partners. Inadequately sized, positioned, or blocked culverts or other stream crossings can be a seasonal or year-round barrier to aquatic species, fragmenting habitat and disconnecting the natural flow of organisms, material, nutrients and energy along the river system. This loss of stream connectivity is a critical threat to valuable and already vulnerable species such as the native Eastern brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), the American eel (Anguilla rostrata) and river herring (Alosa spp.). HEP is partnering with the R3C to assess over 375 road-stream crossing in the lower Raritan basin and bay region through 2022 to inform improved connectivity.
  • Robert Chant, Professor, Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers – Microplastics in the Raritan (revised title and description coming soon!)
  • Nicole Fahrenfeld, Associate Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Rutgers – Nontuberculous mycobacteria in the Raritan River and home plumbing biofilms.  Description:  Several nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) species are opportunistic pathogens, disproportionately affecting the immunocompromised.  A field survey was conducted to understand the prevalence of these microbes in home plumbing biofilms and surface water in NJ.
  • Subhasis Giri, Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis, Rutgers – Assessing the potential impacts of climate and land use change on water fluxes and sediment transport in a loosely coupled system. Climate and land use change are the two primary factors that affect different components of hydrological cycle as well as sediment transport in the watershed. Quantifying potential impact of these two stressors enables decision makers to formulate better water resource management strategies to adapt to the changing environment. To that end, we have developed an integrated modeling framework employing an Agent-based approach to simulate land use conversion that then serves as input to the Soil and Water Assessment tool (SWAT) in a loosely coupled fashion. The outcomes of this study will facilitate watershed resiliency work which will make communities more resilient under changing climate and land use.
  • Michele Bakacs, Agriculture & Natural Resources County Agent, New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, Rutgers, and Heather Fenyk, Board President, Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership – Update on pathogens sampling in the Lower Raritan River.  Little water quality data exists that can inform the safety of recreating on the highly urbanized Lower Raritan River. The Lower Raritan is actively used for fishing, paddling, catching bait fish, crabbing, jet skiing, wading and even swimming on a hot day, yet limited information is available for pathogen levels that have a direct effect on human health.  Over the past several years researchers and community volunteers collected pathogen samples  at public access sites along the tidal portions of the Raritan River. The sites are not regularly monitored by the state and include non-bathing beaches, kayak/canoe launches and fishing docks. The results were immediately made available to the public so the community could make informed decisions about the safety of recreating on the water.

Zoom Links

Link to view November 30 Webinar Recording

Link to join December 10 Webinar

Contact Carrie Ferraro for more information.