Katherine Abbot: Sublethal effects of small dams on the diet and body condition of invertivorous stream fishesPhD student in Environmental Conservation Program, UMass Amherst

Katherine Abbot, outside, smiling, an aquatic insect is on her fingerAcross Massachusetts, over 3,000 dams alter stream hydrology, impair sediment and nutrient transport, and impede fish passage. The presence of dams has also been shown to negatively impact macroinvertebrate assemblages due to altered sediment and flow regimes, which may, in turn, influence the diet and body conditions of invertivorous fish. Currently, the sublethal impacts of dams on stream fishes are not well understood; thus, this study will focus on 6 Massachusetts streams impacted by low-head dams in order to determine whether differences in macroinvertebrate prey availability above and below dams results in shifts in fish diet and condition. This information may be used to prioritize removal projects and to guide expectations of biotic recovery following removal and restoration.

Grant McKown: Living Shorelines in New Hampshire: If You Build It, Will They Come? 

MS student in Marine Biology, University of New Hampshire

Living Shorelines have been lauded over the past decade as a solution to the degradation of salt marsh ecosystems and the need for resilient shorelines. Despite recent documented successes in the Gulf of Mexico and the Southeast, living shorelines have yet to be thoroughly studied in New England. Recently, the first three living shoreline projects were completed in New Hampshire, providing an excellent opportunity to investigate the initial restoration trajectory of the biotic communities and biogeochemistry of this restoration tool. My project will investigate the restoration potential of living shorelines in Northern New England by conducting a rigorous monitoring program of the vegetation, nekton, and macroinvertebrate communities and the porewater chemistry. The monitoring data will be compared to armored shorelines, local reference shorelines, and a pristine salt marsh to provide greater context of the restoration success of the living shorelines. With a thorough analysis of the first few years post-restoration of this restoration tool, state agencies and coastal communities will be able to make more informed coastal management decisions.


Sara Wigginton: Quantifying Denitrification in Soils Treating Wastewater

PhD student in Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Rhode Island

Septic systems are a major source of nitrogen pollution in coastal New England, causing eutrophication in many of our region’s estuaries. Utilizing soil to treat residential wastewater can greatly reduce nitrogen loads, leading to restoration and remediation of oxygen depleted coastal waters. Soil’s ability to remove nitrogen from wastewater is dependent on its capacity to support denitrification—the main mechanism for nitrogen removal. I will test an inexpensive sensor (Mn IRIS tubes) to identify areas in an engineered soil treatment area that support denitrification. I will relate these results to nitrogen removal rates in the treatment area to determine if this sensor can be used to quickly and inexpensively identify areas in the environment that support denitrification.