Science

Science Team Aim:

The Saw Kill watershed is both a valuable water source and a thriving home to a diverse array of species. Through our research, we hope to gather a more complete understanding of the health of the waterway and establish measures to maintain and improve it. Among other projects, we are establishing a citizen science water quality monitoring effort based out of the Bard Water Laboratory that will collect data on water quality parameters such as salinity, dissolved oxygen, enterococcus, total coliforms, and endotoxins.

Existing Research that SKWC is building on:

Amphibian Monitoring:
In early spring, on warm (40°+F), rainy evenings or wet nights right after daytime rains, many species of salamanders and frogs leave their winter hibernation spots and migrate (often en masse) to vernal pools. Scientific evidence suggests that they follow the same migratory pathways every year. They often hibernate great distances from their intermittent woodland pools, and streets pose a significant and life threatening barrier. If enough get squished in a particular year, local extinctions can occur. Bard students, faculty, and staff search roads on these early Spring evenings in order to help the amphibians cross safely. To be involved, sign up to be a road captain or to be on-call volunteer. A road captain regularly checks his or her assigned road when sent out a species alert. An on-call volunteer will be texted if amphibians are out in great numbers and need help getting to safety. To sign up, email Laurie Husted at: husted@bard.edu.
For updates on amphibian monitoring the Facebook page is here.
Additional resources on amphibian road crossing is here.

Eel Monitoring:
For several years Bard College, along with many other sites on the Hudson River, has been conducting research on the abundance of American Eels. These eels migrate from the Sargasso Sea to North American estuaries and many make their way into Tivoli Bays. The DEC partners with scientists, students, and community members along the Hudson River to monitor American Eel populations. In the spring, Bard will continue this project and investigate possible barriers, such as dams, to the American Eel population.
More information on the Hudson River Eel Project is here.

Water Quality Monitoring:
In order to establish baseline information about the health of the Saw Kill waterway, the SKWC along with Riverkeeper and the Red Hook CAC is re-booting a comprehensive water quality monitoring program first conducted in the late 1970’s. The Saw Kill Monitoring Program, powered by community scientists, will sample at 18 sites in the Saw Kill watershed.  We will be tracking sewage indicating bacteria, nutrient levels, turbidity, water temperature, salinity/conductivity, and other water quality variables. Samples will be processed and analyzed at the new Bard Water Lab, which was provided through generous funding by the Hudson River Foundation. Dr. Eli Dueker at Bard College heads research on the quality of the Saw Kill as both a habitat for wildlife and a drinking water resource, and will be facilitating the analysis of the samples from the Saw Kill watershed. You can become involved in this project by either helping to collect water samples at the 18 sites or by helping process the data at the Bard Water Lab. Contact Tierney Weymueller at tw4287@bard.edu to volunteer.

Historical Saw Kill Data:
Historical Data was conducted on the Saw Kill from 1975-1982. Among the factors tested were weather, water temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, phosphates, nitrates, and coliform bacteria. Included below are newsletters, descriptions of the sampling locations, and the data that was collected.

Historical_Data_Newsletter.jpgNewsletter from Michael Rosenthal (July 1, 1977)

            Newsletters                             Sampling Locations            Historical Data 1975-76
      Historical Data 1977             Historical Data 1978            Historical Data 1979
      Historical Data 1980             Historical Data 1981             Historical Data 1982

Saw Kill Imaging Project (SKIP).
The SKWC and the Bard Water Lab are working with John Maddox of Vertical Lift Visuals to take high-resolution video footage of the Saw Kill from a done. John is a licensed Drone Pilot and works with Bard faculty/staff/students to make sure the drone is always in sight (in line with FAA regulations). The work is beginning on Bard-owned properties and will only expand to other properties with permission from property owners.

Undergrad Research:
Students from Eli Dueker’s Water Class in Spring 2015 worked on research projects about the Saw Kill. Their final research was compiled onto posters, which can be found below:
Saw Kill Water Projects
Investigating Filtering Functions of Permeable Pavement
Ways of Experiencing the Saw Kill

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