The Rockefeller Studies
In 1969, inspired by the groundbreaking studies Ruth Patrick had conducted on the Conestoga River in Lancaster County two decades earlier, an interdisciplinary team set out to scrutinize the White Clay watershed. Read more about the Rockefeller Studies.
River Continuum Concept
Drawing on biological, chemical and physical studies that ranged from Ruth Patrick’s “ecosystem approach” to a river’s biology to Luna Leopold’s recent formula for predicting its physical pattern, Dr. Robin Vannote and his colleagues added a critical element to the puzzle of how streams work. Read more about the River Continuum Concept.
Microbes and Molecules
The collective efforts of bacteria, protozoa, and diatoms provide or process most of the energy that supports the visible life of a stream. By teasing apart and reassembling a stream’s web of microscopic components, the Center’s scientists have sought to describe its unseen life. Read more about microbes and molecules.
Flora and fauna that live in streams are often exposed to toxic contaminants which have accumulated in sediments. The toxic effect of these contaminants to animal life cannot be predicted simply from the total amount of contaminant present. Read more about sediment toxicity.
Center scientists are evaluating their hypothesis that deforested streams deteriorate because of their need to process the dissolved nutrients, particulate organic matter and organic pesticides that enter from the watershed. Read more about streamside reforestation.
Thermal Equilibrium Concept
In the largest project ever undertaken at Stroud Water Research Center, studies were done on 25 river systems from Florida to Quebec to investigate the effects of thermal pollution in streams and rivers. While many species evolve elaborate genetic mechanisms to cope with severe seasonal changes in temperature, such adaptations offer little protection against human activities. Read more about the Thermal Equilibrium Concept.
Stroud Water Research Center scientists discovered that when rain water enters a stream, it carries with it a special blend of dissolved organic matter, which is then dispersed in the water much like tea from a tea bag. The tea provides food for bacteria, and studies at the Center indicate that each watershed produces a community of bacterial species which are uniquely fitted to the local supply of watershed tea. Read more about watershed tea.
Center scientists discovered a parthenogenetic mayfly and worked to test its use in evaluating toxic substances in streams. Lou Kaplan developed a bioreactor that can help a water utility can determine the most effective treatment process, measure the results, and monitor the quality of the treated drinking water. Read more about Stroud patents.