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Student Research Abstracts

Nirvana Kotoric: Developmental Biology- Effect of ethanol on chick embryos

An increased awareness in the correlation between alcohol consumption in pregnant mothers and the negative effect that it has on their newborn babies prompted the research on fetal alcohol syndrome in chick embryos. The objective was to observe the effects of exposing chicks to different ethanol concentrations in early development. The focus of my work was to determine the dose what concentration abnormalities could be seen just prior to hatching. Chick embryos were injected and left to develop for two weeks, upon which time their development was terminated. Data was collected and the developed chick embryos were compared qualitatively and quantitatively. Although not statistically significant because of small sample size, phenotypic differences were found in the alcohol treated embryos, including smaller head diameters, beak lengths, and total body mass for those with larger concentrations of ethanol exposure. These results show a correlation of increasing ethanol concentration with greater abnormalities, and with further research could lead to even more findings.

Katrina Abdalla: Development & Water Quality

The goal of this research was to determine if limiting development will have a positive effect on water quality. Three water catchments were compared by measuring phosphate, nitrate and suspended solid levels, one having no development, one with controlled development and the other highly developed. Analysis of this research shows that controlling development decreases pollution in aquatic systems.

Megan Hurley: Housing Developments and the use of Retention Ponds

A recent trend in the construction of housing developments is the use of retention ponds to control stormwater discharge as well as runoff of chemicals into the streams. Megan examined the effectiveness of retention ponds in the upper reaches of Irondequoit Creek and Allen Creek on protecting water quality. Her analysis included measuring phosphates, nitrates, total suspended solids. Her hypothesis was that these ponds can be shown to retain these nutrients in the watershed rather than releasing them downstream. Another goal of her study was to compare current values with those reported in two studies conducted by the Monroe County Department of Health and the USGS in 2001 and 2004 on these same ponds. Megan also completed an internship with the Genesee Land Trust in which she assisted in the monitoring of conservation easements. This included field trips to collect data and worked with the GIS database to document the boundaries and features of the easement properties. She learned about the operation of the organization as well as helped them prepare documents and record keeping of the GLT properties.

Nicole Paris: The Effect of Riparian Zone Health on Vertebrate Diversity

The goal of this study was to determine if there is a relationship between stream/riparian zone health and the diversity and visitation of vertebrates in the riparian zone. Field research was done at Allen Creek at the east and west catchments in Pittsford and Henrietta, NY as well as at the Irondequoit Creek catchment in Mendon, NY. Observations of vertebrate activity were made from May 21, 2008 to June 18, 2008. The data was organized by catchment and the frequency of invasive species, as well as the areas where least frequent species were found were compared in each catchment. Due to the lack of riparian zone in Allen Creek West, it was hypothesized that the vertebrate richness and visitation would be less, and the data supported this strongly. Allen Creek East, however, showed much higher values than Irondequoit Creek. This did not support the hypothesis, as Irondequoit Creek is much more rural and Allen Creek East is more suburban. These results suggest that the maintenance of green space in Pittsford may be playing a part in preserving vertebrate species in stream riparian zones.

Katie Schneeberger:Assessing the Water Quality of Catchments based on Biotic Indices of the Macroinvertebrate Communities

The goal of this research was to assess the water quality of three catchments based on biotic indices of the macroinvertebrate communities. Specifically, the potential benefits of the development of green space plans, restriction of building and protection of the riparian zone of specific watersheds in Pittsford, NY were studied in comparison to streams in the Henrietta/Brighton area and the Mendon/Irondequoit Creek watershed. The biotic indices used to evaluate stream quality were the Biotic Index (BI), Ephemeroptera + Plecoptera + Trichoptera (EPT) richness index and Percent Model Affinity (PMA). Based on these indices, the water quality of all three catchments is slightly impacted. To differentiate between the aquatic communities of the three catchments, a comparison of functional feeding groups is also presented. Rural areas with heavily wooded riparian vegetation such as Mendon had better water quality than streams in urban areas with riparian zone affected by development such as those in Henrietta/Brighton.

Jacques Tardie: Hydrologic Survey of Wade-able Streams in the Rochester area

A hydrologic survey of wade-able streams in the Rochester area, consisting of measurements of temperature, oxygen concentration, depth, width, velocity, and substrate was over the course of the summer. The data will be used to make comparisons between the streams in an attempt to make correlations between healthy and unhealthy streams. This study focused on an analysis of the quantitative features of the microhabitats of benthic macroinvertebrates, specifically Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera. Attributes such as velocity, oxygen concentration and temperature correlated with the distribution of each species.

Stephen Tychostup: Analysis of Riparian Zone Habitats in Rochester Water Catchments

The aim of this study was to analyze the riparian zone habitats in three Rochester water catchments located in Henrietta, Pittsford, and Mendon. The catchment running through Pittsford is protected by a “Greenprint” plan that protects vegetation, while one running through Henrietta is not protected. Mendon is known to have less development than the other two areas, so the catchment running through it is our control stream. Species inventories were taken at multiple sites for each catchment. GIS maps were used to measure the percentage of housing, impervious surfaces, and natural vegetation in the area of each catchment. The analysis compared the quality of the riparian zones in each area. The study also includes data from other research done at the same time, to test how vegetation in each catchment effects suspended solids, phosphates, and nitrates in their respected water samples.

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