Every season for more than 40 years, the Hudson River Biological Monitoring Program collected millions of marine samples up and down the 150-mile stretch of the Hudson River from the Troy Dam in upstate New York to Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan, yielding one of the most complete ecological data sets on the planet.
Today, researchers at Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) are the beneficiaries of that treasure trove of fish and water-quality data, which is housed near the Stony Brook campus in Port Jefferson Station. Commonly referred to as the Hudson River Collection, it was donated to the university by the Entergy Corporation, which managed the Indian Point Energy Center nuclear plant and created the monitoring program to assess the plant’s environmental impact.
The immense amount of information in the collection provides university researchers with an enormous opportunity for scientific discovery, according to Paul Shepson, dean of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.
“Anyone who has time to see will be awestruck at the magnitude of that collection,” said Shepson, adding that the collection has the power to inspire students “about the magnitude of the challenges we have.”
“This provides a unique opportunity for us to study the Hudson River ecosystem and how the system has changed over the last 50 years,” said SoMAS professor Yong Chen, who is the principal investigator for “Evaluating the Changing Biogeography of American Shad in a Changing Hudson River Ecosystem,” one of four Stony Brook research projects administered by New York Sea Grant and funded by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.
Chen also helms a second project, “Analyzing the historical Hudson River Biological Monitoring Program to develop an integrated program for long-term monitoring of Hudson River ecosystem dynamics.” Several other projects that will benefit from the collection are also in development.
Shepson said the research being done now and in the future will help provide the answers concerning human impact on the environment. “There’s nothing like it in history; it pushes us forward on a scientific ride that we were made for.”
Shepson and Chen discuss the collection in the following video: