Graduation Date

Fall 12-16-2016

Grading Professor

Keith Kloor

Subject Concentration

Health & Science

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Michael H. Wilson

Capstone Abstract

December 27, 2016

Flight of the Freshwater Fish

The Hudson River provides for millions of people as a path for commercial and private transportation, a source of food and energy, and perhaps most importantly for many living in the tri-state area as a destination for recreation and relaxation. The most overlooked feature of the river is how the wildlife shows clear signs of a changing climate and rapid environmental response to the impacts of global warming on the river.

Entire populations of fish species in the lower Hudson have been forced to leave the river for colder waters to the north. Most notably the Atlantic Tomcod, which was once plentiful throughout the river has experienced “catastrophic decline” in just 15 years, according to a report from the New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation. The decline has been attributed mainly to warmer average water temperatures through the river.

Complicating the issue, other species of fish, like the Smallmouth Bass, have seen a rapid expansion in the river as the temperatures have warmed to facilitate the population’s movement and growth. These changes are leaving scientists and watershed managers with difficult decisions on how to preserve the fleeing populations while monitoring the growth of other species. Some conservation teams have already begun to intervene to prevent further loss of habitat for the former or to prevent the spread of the invading species.

Climate change is contributing to rapid shifts in freshwater ways across the country. What those changes mean for the future are any biologist's guess, but the hard truth is that more change is coming. The hard answer is what will conservationists be able to do about it.

This project is primarily a written account of this issue with reporting from local and national scientists on the impacts of global warming on freshwater rivers, lakes and streams in North America. The writing is accompanied by images of the New York State Fisheries team collecting data along the Hudson River. Two animated GIFs of the Hudson River are also included to provide a sense of place for the story. Lastly, I am responsible for all of the HTML and CSS coding of the page, which was written mostly from scratch for this project.

Full Site:

PHOTO_Wilson_Michael_Sequence1.jpg (128 kB)
This image represents a GIF of Bear Mountain State Park along the Hudson River. The timelapse was taken on October 22, 2016.

PHOTO_Wilson_Michael_Sequence4.jpg (138 kB)
The DEC Fisheries team led by Bobby Adams conducted a fish count on 8 locations along the Hudson.

PHOTO_Wilson_Michael_Sequence2.jpg (205 kB)
Robert Adams, the leader of the NY DEC fisheries team in Region 3, positions the boat for a catch just south of Newburgh. It is an important location for monitoring several fish species in the Lower Hudson.

PHOTO_Wilson_Michael_Sequence1.gif (44742 kB)
Chris Standley, a researcher from the NY DEC, pulls in a catch just south of Newburgh on the Hudson River for a fish count of key species in the river.

PHOTO_Wilson_Michael_Sequence5.jpg (85 kB)
Matt Best, a researcher from the NY DEC weighs an American Shad as part of monitoring program to track the species movement in the Hudson River.

PHOTO_Wilson_Michael_Sequence6.jpg (63 kB)
This image represents a GIF of the Lower Hudson River with New York City as a backdrop. It was taken on November 4, 2016.



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