Freshwater

The Latest

How wildebeest deaths sustain the Mara ecosystem

From documentaries to real life, the mass carnage of the wildebeest in migration is a natural phenomenon that remains the world's largest terrestrial animal migration.

Marabou storks

How 2 million pounds of rotting flesh helps the Serengeti

For wildebeest, the yearly migration across the Serengeti can mean life or death. Predators such as crocodiles and big cats lie in wait as the herd of more than one million makes its 1,000-mile loop across the savannas of Tanzania and Kenya.

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This river kills thousands of wildebeests — then gives life to everything else.

African wildebeests are like clueless couples that get hacked to pieces in horror movies. Time after time, year after year, giant herds of the animals creep to the edge of the Mara River in Kenya and start to drink, seemingly oblivious to danger.

Wildebeest feast: Mass drownings fuel the Mara River ecosystem

Each year, more than a million wildebeest migrate through Africa’s Serengeti Mara Ecosystem. While crossing the Kenyan reach of the Mara River, thousands perish. A new study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to reveal how wildebeest drownings impact the ecology of the iconic river.

Related Projects

Impacts of Winter Drawdown on Littoral Fishes

We are working in collaboration with a consortium of governmental and non-profit agencies in southeastern Québec to try to understand the effects of water level management on littoral food webs in this region.

Managing Heritage Lake Trout Populations in the Adirondacks

We are working with the Adirondack chapter of The Nature Conservancy to build a population model of an Adirondack strain, heritage lake trout population and test alternative management strategies for maximizing the fishery's conservation and value.

Understanding Lake Carbon Cycles

We are using automated sensor networks, hydrologic and biogeochemical budgets, and models to try to improve understanding of lake carbon cycles and their potential responses to environmental change.

Social-Ecological Dynamics of Recreational Fishery Landscapes

Fisheries are classic examples of tightly coupled natural-human systems, and have high cultural and economic value in North America and around the world. They are thus useful model systems for testing and developing social-ecological theory, and important venues for real-world application of such theory. 

Effects of Dissolved Organic Carbon on Lake Ecosystems

Organic matter produced by terrestrial plants enters lakes via streams, groundwater, and surface deposition. These inputs strongly structure lake ecosystems, altering heat and light budgets, fueling carbon cycles, and becoming incorporated into the tissues of aquatic organisms like invertebrates and fishes.

Road Salt

Increasing salt in our streams has been a concern at the Cary Institute for many years. Even in the relatively undeveloped watershed of the East Branch of Wappinger Creek, the salt levels have increased since 1985 when sampling began. 

Mara Project

During the dry season, the Mara River in Kenya sustains the largest overland migration in the world of over one and a half million wildebeest, antelope, and zebra. We are studying how different forms of animal inputs into the Mara shape river ecosystem processes and food web dynamics.

gleon australia

Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network

Dr. Weathers is co-Chair of the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON), a grassroots research network that conducts innovative science by sharing and interpreting high resolution sensor data to understand, predict and communicate the role and response of lakes in a changing global environment.

Increased Loss of DOC from Terrestrial Systems

Carbon released from terrestrial ecosystems is an important source of organic matter in most streams, lakes and rivers. In the Hudson River there has been a doubling in concentration of dissolved organic carbon over the past 15 years.

Hudson River Habitats: Wetlands

There are roughly 200 tidal freshwater wetlands fringing the Hudson from the Tappan Zee region to the Federal Dam in Troy.

Effects of Novel Contaminants, Such as Pharmaceuticals, on Stream Ecosystems

The widespread use of novel contaminants, such as pharmaceuticals, have unknown consequences for stream ecosystems.

Crop Selection Consequences for Stream Ecosystem Function

Research examining the cycling of novel allochthonous carbon, i.e. agricultural crop by-products, in Midwestern agricultural streams.

Effects of Global Climate Change on Stream Ecosystems

Our understanding of the effects of Global Climate Change on stream ecosystems is limited.

Nutrient Cycling in Large River Ecosystems

Our understanding of nutrient cycling in large river ecosystems is currently limited.

Modification of Rivers for Hydropower Generation

Globally, direct modification of rivers for hydropower generation is one of the most dramatic effects humans have had on large river ecosystems.

zebra mussel

Zebra Mussels and the Hudson River

Zebra mussels appeared in the Hudson in 1991 and fundamentally transformed the ecosystem. The zebra mussel invasion is linked to losses of native mussels and changes in the fish community.

Pearly Mussel Ecology

What controls the distribution and abundance of pearly mussels, a species-rich and highly endangered group of animals in eastern North America? 

Hudson River Habitats: Submersed Aquatic Vegetation

Submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV) is an important habitat in the Hudson River. We have investigated a wide range of functions in SAV beds including maintenance of high dissolved oxygen, effects on suspended sediment, and habitat value.

water celery

Ecological Functions of Submersed Plant Beds

Beds of water celery (Vallisneria americana) and other plants are widespread in the Hudson River, and play several important ecological functions. These beds contain a diverse invertebrate community, which may serve as a major source of food to the river's fish.

Stream Bacterial Communities: When is Function Linked to Structure?

We have carried out a diversity of small and mesocosm-scale experiments, in conjunction with regionally distributed field sampling, to assess when the composition of stream benthic bacterial communities corresponds with differences in stream metabolic activities.

Hudson River Environmental Conditions Observing System

HRECOS provides continuous, real-time data on environmental conditions in the Hudson River. There are fifteen monitoring stations at eight sites, spanning from Albany to the New York Harbor

Hudson River Ecosystem Study

For three decades, our scientists have been researching the Hudson River ecosystem– from the way shoreline development impacts water quality to how invasive species influence resident plants and animals. As a result, the Hudson is the most scientifically scrutinized river in the world.

Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies | Millbrook, New York 12545 | Tel (845) 677-5343

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