Hudson River Ecosystem Study

Our country's history is intimately tied to the River. Revolutionary War battles, artistic movements, and the first industrial revolution took place on its shores. Understanding its ecology is imperative to protect the functionality and beauty of the river for generations to come.

In this Project

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. With more than one hundred papers published in scientific journals, as well as popular magazine, radio, and television coverage, our Hudson River research team is working to inform sound river management.

Long-term studies are essential to understanding how complex ecosystems operate. Due to costs and time commitment, however, they are rarely conducted. By treating the Hudson River as an integrated system—with research sites spanning 200 kilometers from Troy, NY, to the Tappan Zee Bridge—the Hudson River Ecosystem Study has gained an unprecedented understanding of the river’s ecosystem.

Over time, as more data are gathered, scientists will continue to reveal the complex interactions that govern the Hudson River’s health and productivity. Lessons learned can be applied to the management of other large rivers worldwide.

a native pearly mussel
a native pearly mussel (Anodonta implicata) overgrown with zebra mussels
the native pearly mussel Leptodea ochracea
Bosmina freyi a common zooplankter of the freshwater Hudson River
Striped bass larvae with zooplankton food items dissected from its gut
a PONAR grab
sediment sampling with a PONAR grab
pouring a sediment samples through a sieve
processing sediment samples
a native pearly mussel
Related Projects

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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? 

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

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