Laura Martin awarded an NSF Dissertation Improvement Grant

Laura Martin has received a National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant from the NSF Science, Technology, and Society program. The grant will be supervised by Clifford Kraft and Sara Pritchard (STS), and will support Laura’s research on the relationship between ecological science and environmental management in the postwar United States.

Ecologist taking radiation readings from a crab, Bikini Atoll, 1964.

Adirondack Fishery Research Program Receives ALA Stewardship Award

The Cornell Adirondack Fishery Research Program was recognized with a Stewardship Award by the Adirondack Landowners Association (ALA) for 2012. The Stewardship Award recognizes organizations and individuals for their stewardship contributions to the Adirondacks. DNR’s Cliff Kraft is a researcher at field headquarters at the Little Moose Lodge. The presentation to the Cornell Adirondack Fishery Research Program truly highlights the unique partnership that private landowners in the Adirondacks have with the scientific and educational community.  The 62 year partnership between the Adirondack League Club and Cornell demonstrates what can be accomplished through long term collaborative research. The improvement of aquatic ecosystems in the Adirondack Park and the  enhancement of a world renowned cold water fishery are part of the lasting legacy of this unique partnership.

Click here to read more.

Cliff Kraft Teaches Graduate Student Course on Data Management

Cliff Kraft, DNR associate professor, is working with Sarah Wright, a data librarian, and Camille Andrews, a learning technologies and assessment librarian, teaching a course for graduate students to help them manage their data. Using a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), a data librarian, a subject specialist, and a faculty collaborator work together in a six-session workshop helping graduate students organize and share their research data. Cornell’s class is on ecology and has about 29 graduate participants.

Click here to read the full Cornell Chronicle article about this exciting new course.

Warmer summers could cause trout populations to dwindle

From the Cornell Chronicle

March 26, 2012

Warmer summers could cause trout populations to dwindle

Warmer summers mean later spawning times and fewer nests for brook trout.

The New York state fish could be in jeopardy due to climate change, warn Cornell scientists.

Warmer summers mean later fall spawning times and fewer nests for brook trout, which could eventually affect the fish’s population numbers.

Cliff Kraft, associate professor in the Department of Natural Resources, and four other researchers looked at 11 years of data from Rock Lake in the Adirondacks to find the link between summer temperatures and spawning times for brook trout. Cornell has a 60-year history of research in Adirondack lakes, providing the researchers with long-term data on temperatures and brook trout spawning times.

“The key thing is they are cold-water fish and need groundwater to spawn,” Kraft said.

The warmer summer temperatures have had a “sub-lethal effect,” Kraft said. Warmer summers don’t kill the fish, but lead to fewer nests — called redds — and a late start for those eggs that are laid.

“These trout can’t build gonads in the summer,” Kraft said. “They’re burning more energy to survive, so they don’t have energy to produce eggs. The warmer it gets, the fewer fish are spawning; some just give up.”

Cliff Kraft

In a study published in the Global Change Biology journal March 13, the researchers argue that temperature can be linked to the delay in spawning.

An average difference in mean summer daily air temperature of 1 degree Celsius delayed spawning by about one week and reduced the number of redds constructed by 65, they found.

“The last brook trout in this lake is not about to drop dead, but warming temperatures present a substantial threat,” Kraft said.

Dana Warren, Kraft’s former Ph.D. student who is now at Oregon State University, said warmer temperatures also mean earlier ice breaks, earlier turnover times for lakes and earlier peaks for plankton blooms.

All of these factors can affect the food source available for the young fish when they do emerge. If fish are relying on that plankton when they hatch, they may be weeks too late, and the natural synchrony of the blooms and the hatching period are pulled out of whack in two directions, Warren said.

The study used a long time frame to look beyond acute effects and discover potential latent effects of climate change, Warren added.

The researchers believe unstratified lakes — or lakes shallow enough not to have layers of water at different temperatures and densities — will become more common. That could pose further threats to fish like trout, which take refuge in cool water, Warren said.

“This study highlights the importance of looking at residency and non-migratory populations,” he said.

Cornell Guani Fellowship in Conservation Biology

We are pleased to announce that the Guani Fellowship in Conservation Biology has been awarded to Justin Proctor. Justin’s MS/Ph.D. research will focus on breeding biology and community conservation of the Golden Swallow in the Dominican Republic. He will be supervised by David Winkler, the newest member of the Field of Natural Resources. Nominations for future Guani Fellowships will be solicited in the fall.

Evan Cooch, Cliff Kraft, Steven Wolf