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Amy Kochanowsky - Phytoplankton Lab

University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

The Chesapeake Bay does not meet Clean Water Act standards as set by the EPA.  Management strategies aimed at improving the water quality of the bay have been based on research conducted on the main bay, and on large tributaries.  Several SERC scientists are working on a project that will try to model shallow tributary embayments, and small tidal creeks, such as the Rhode River which have been under-sampled in previous studies.  They believe that these smaller tributaries should be considered when creating a management strategy for the bay because they are very important ecosystems.  Smaller, shallower creeks are a habitat for submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) and juvenile fish and crabs.

For my independent research project, I wanted to determine if the scale of their model was appropriate, or if they should take their research even a step farther and focus on small creeks that feed into the tributaries.  I conducted research on the Rhode River, a tributary to the bay, and two of its tributaries over a period of 8 weeks.  I took a boat to nine sample stations every week, and measured properties of the water with a probe, and collected water samples to be taken back to the lab for analysis.  I found that although there were short term differences in water clarity, the two smaller creeks were not significantly different from each other or from the Rhode River over the long term.  This suggests that the scale of the model that the SERC scientists are developing is appropriate to predict patterns in the important small tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay.

After graduating from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in Biology and Spanish, I hope to pursue a career in the environmental field.