Fisheries

redear sunfish

The Patrick Center Fisheries Section has expertise in stream, riverine and estuarine fish ecology, environmental impact assessment, biomonitoring, collection and identification of fishes (including ichthyoplankton), habitat and fisheries restoration, fisheries science, and analysis of fish contamination.

The excellent facilities of the Fisheries Section permit intensive and comprehensive scientific evaluations of aquatic systems and foster quality scientific investigation of dynamics of both lentic and lotic systems.

Staff | Expertise | Capabilities | Facilities | Selected Projects | Educational Outreach

Staff

Dr. Richard J. Horwitz, Section Leader and Ruth Patrick Chair in Environmental Science
(215) 299-1092, horwitz@ansp.org.
Dr. Horwitz has over 30 years experience with the collection, identification and analysis of fish specimens from throughout the United States and other parts of the world (e.g., Canada, Central and South America, Nepal, Africa), statistical analysis of ecological data, and analysis of relationships between disturbance and fish communities.
Support Staff
Mr. Paul F. Overbeck has over 20 years experience in field collection, identification, and analysis (including otolith‑based age and growth measures) of freshwater and marine specimens from throughout the United States. David Keller has experience with invasive species, including the flathead catfish and the northern snakehead, and is conducting research on the native white catfish.

Expertise

The Patrick Center Fisheries Section has expertise in stream, riverine and estuarine fish ecology, environmental impact assessment, biomonitoring, collection and identification of fishes (including ichthyoplankton), habitat and fisheries restoration, fisheries science, and analysis of fish contamination. Our fisheries scientists work in aquatic systems throughout the United States and have experience working in other parts of the world including Canada, Central and South America, Nepal, and Africa. We maintain extensive fisheries databases that include long-term, continuous assessment data from projects that have been ongoing for over 50 years. These long-term databases, collections of the Fish Department of the Academy of Natural Sciences and other data sources have been used to analyze environmental trends and changes in biodiversity in rivers and other systems.

Links with other sections in the Patrick Center for Environmental Research have promoted multi-disciplinary environmental assessment. For example, scientists in the Fisheries Section are studying the effects of land use, riparian zone management, urbanization, dams, and point-source contaminants on biological communities. These studies incorporate studies on fish, macroinvertebrates, algae, water quality, hydrology, food web structure and geomorphology.

The Fisheries Section and Chemistry Section have conducted numerous studies of chemical contamination of fishes and other organisms. Results from these contamination assessments are used tdevelop public health advisories for fish consumption. The Fisheries Section has studied effects of entrainment and impingement on larval and adult fishes. Information from our monitoring programs are incorporated intrecommendations for aquatic system restoration.

Staff of the Fisheries Section have served as experts for a variety of agencies for verification and quality control of fish identifications. The excellent facilities of the Fisheries Section permit intensive and comprehensive scientific evaluations of aquatic systems and foster quality scientific investigation of dynamics of both lentic and lotic systems.

Capabilities

  • large and small river/stream surveys
  • lake inventory and assessment
  • wetland and stream restoration (dam removal) and monitoring,
  • restoration site identification and evaluation
  • indices of biotic integrity to assess health of aquatic systems
  • preparation of fish and other aquatic specimens for contaminant analysis
  • urban park restoration and planning (including re-introduction of native fauna)
  • multiscale analyses of fish assemblage structure ranging from microhabitat watershed levels
  • taxonomic identifications for all life stages of fish, larval to adult

Facilities

The Fisheries Section develops and implements innovative sampling methods for collecting fishes of all life stages in a variety of habitats from tidal marshes tlarge rivers and bays. The Section maintains a variety of electroshocking equipment, permitting sampling in a wide range of environmental conditions. This equipment includes a dedicated, 17-ft electroshocking boat, several configurations of towbarge and walkalong electroshocking gear, and backpack electrofishing gear. The Section maintains a variety of active and passive fishing gear and small and large crafts for fish collection in all water bodies.

Our laboratory includes state-of-the-art imaging and image analysis equipment for preparation and analysis of fish otoliths (used tage fishes and texamine yearly and daily growth rates).

The fisheries lab works closely with the Ichthyology Department within the Biodiversity Group on preparation of fish and histological specimens, and curation of fishes in the permanent ichthyology collection held at the Academy. In addition, the Section has access ta world-class Natural History and Ichthyology Library with extensive taxonomic and life history literature references.

Selected Projects

  • Long-term river monitoring surveys on the Susquehanna and Delaware Rivers (PA), the Savannah River (SC, GA), the Holston River (TN), the White River (AR) and the Guadalupe and Sabine rivers (TX), where effects of potential point-source contamination from industry upon fish populations are examined;
  • Trend analysis of fishes, macroinvertebrates and algae in the Savannah River (SC, GA) using long-term datasets (funded by USGS NAWQA program);
  • Effects of urbanization on stream morphology and biota, and impacts of restoration programs in urban watersheds; (funded by USEPA)
    Investigations of the effects of riparian structure (forest versus meadows) on stream fish communities of the Piedmont region (PA, DE, MD) (funded by NSF);
  • Historical trends in fishes of southeastern PA;
  • Status and trends of the American eel in the Delaware River Basin;
  • Effects of dams and dam removal on fishes (funded by State of Pennsylvania);
  • Natural lands restoration and planning in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, PA, ;
  • Restoration and monitoring of fish habitat in tidal marshes;
  • Effects of entrainment and impingement mortality on fish populations (MD);
  • PCB and Mercury contamination in fishes, for development of public health advisories related tfish consumption in Connecticut and New Jersey.

Educational Outreach

The Fisheries Section is active in a variety of educational programs on fisheries, local environmental issues and Patrick Center research. The Section frequently accepts student interns for summer field and lab work. Fisheries scientists conduct workshops, present research results to community groups, and frequently develop and participate in educational programs in conjunction with local watershed associations, secondary schools, and other groups. For example, members of the Fisheries Section recently participated in a Fish Identification Workshop sponsored by the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Fisheries Society.