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Susquehanna Biology Professor to Present Trout Stream Findings to Fisheries Committee

Published on August 26, 2011

SELINSGROVE—Jonathan Niles, visiting assistant professor at Susquehanna University, will present resuStudents assess trout streamlts of his summer research on brook and brown trout to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) at its Fisheries Committee meeting on August 31 from 1 to 4 p.m. in the university’s Charles B. Degenstein Campus Center meeting rooms. The meeting is open to the public.

Niles’ research is part of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's Unassessed Waters Initiative, created in 2010 as part of PFBC's five-year trout management plan. The initiative is a collaboration between PFBC and area colleges to determine the presence and status of trout populations in headwater tributaries. While Pennsylvania has more than 45,000 waterways, the PFBC has data on only 3,000 of these waters.

Niles’ and his colleagues’ findings will enable the PFBC to classify the streams according to the level of protection each merits in areas where development could upset environmental systems. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection uses the classifications to decide whether to permit activities, such as natural gas drilling, that affect the watershed.

This summer, Niles and three Susquehanna students—Caleb Currens, a senior from Fairfield; John Panas, a sophomore from Camp Hill; and Sam Silknetter, a sophomore from Denver, Pa.—surveyed 82 previously unassessed tributary streams in the Loyalsock and Muncy Creek drainages, looking for the presence of trout, an indicator the PFBC uses to assign protected status. In addition to sampling these streams for fish species according to PFBC protocols, the research team also collected data on water quality, trout diet, aquatic insects and algae. Trout species (brook and brown trout) were documented in 64 of the 82 streams. Ninety-two percent of the streams surveyed in the Muncy Creek drainage contained trout, as did 76 percent of the steams surveyed in the Loyalsock Creek drainage.

The research was supported in part by the Summer Research Partners Program of the School of Natural and Social Sciences at Susquehanna University, which grants students stipends to support student-faculty collaborative research during the summer. The program enhances student learning at Susquehanna by providing the opportunity to actively participate in a research project on a full-time basis, and enhances faculty development by providing funds for student researchers.

Karen M. Jones


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