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Trawling for Sturgeon

Brian, Tony and Tom trawling

Director Lars Rudstam diving for mussels in Oneida Lake

Director Lars Rudstam diving for mussels




Staff taking water samples

gill net processing

gill net processing

gill net

gill net

Sampling aboard the Lake Guardian

Sampling aboard the Lake Guardian

Cornell Boat on Oneida Lake

Cornell Boat on Oneida Lake

Tern count on Little Island

Tern count on Little Island

Shackelton Point Boats

Boats docked


For more than 60 years, the Cornell Biological Field Station at Shackelton Point has addressed issues of changing ecosystems within the lakes of New York State and beyond. We continue to collaborate with groups to explore the effects of invasive species and climate change, and the effects on aquatic ecosystems. 


In the News

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Toby Holda

New publication documents lake-wide, seasonal dynamics of Mysis in Lake Michigan during 2015

Jan 2, 2021

CBFS scientists Holda, Rudstam, and Watkins teamed up with NOAA fishery biologist Pothoven, USGS research fisheries biologist Warner, and National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine professor Khyrstenko to investigate Lake Michigan Mysis diluviana population during 2015.  Mysids are small 5 -20 mm long shrimp-like crustaceans that are both predators on smaller zooplankton and a major prey of fish in the Great Lakes. They migrate from the bottom into the water column at night and have to be sampled under red light as they avoid even low light levels but cannot perceive red light. The researchers were able to take a lake-wide, year-long, perspective the Lake Michigan Mysis population, looking at spatial and seasonal patterns in abundance and estimating annual life history rates.  This paper presents the most detailed study of the mysid population in Lake Michigan since the 1970s.  Mysids represented 10-13% of the total zooplankton biomass in the lake in 2015. Density and biomass were higher offshore as mysids prefer deep, cold water.  Size structure analysis indicated generation times of 2 years making this animal the most long-lived zooplankton in the lake.  More worrisome was that mysid production in Lake Michigan in 2015 was lower than most previous estimates in any of the Great Lakes.  Lower annual secondary production by Mysis is a concern for fish managers as many of the important forage fish species feed heavily on Mysis.  The paper “Lake-wide, annual status of the Mysis diluviana population in Lake Michigan in 2015” in the Journal of Great Lakes Research is available online for free download until Feb 11, 2021:

Goby densities with a drop-down camera

New Buffalo-CBFS publication: The last 30 years of mussel abundance in Lake Ontario

Dec 17, 2020

Drs. Karatayev, Burlakova and Mehler from Buffalo State’s Great Lakes Science Center teamed up with CBFS scientist Rudstam and Watkins, EPA scientist Wick and NOAA scientist Elgin to investigate dreissenid mussels in Lake Ontario.  Since 1990, eight lake-wide surveys of zebra and quagga mussels have been conducted on Lake Ontario. This data was combined with the 2018 CSMI survey conducted as part of the Cornell-Buffalo grant on the Great Lakes Biological Program.  Quagga mussels is the dominant benthic invertebrate, which replaced zebra mussels in Lake Ontario in the 1990s and has continued to increase lake-wide through 2018.  This is primarily due to increases in the offshore deep waters of the lake.  Clearly, the ecosystem effects of mussels continue to affect the lake. Goby densities were assessed with a dropdown camera.  There were some indication of goby predation reducing mussel recruitment. The paper “Dreissena in Lake Ontario 30 years post-invasion” in the Journal of Great Lakes Research is available on line for free download until Jan 27, 2021:

CBFS Scientist Watkins sampling aboard The Guardian

The State of Lake Huron in 2018

Nov 13, 2020

Cornell Biological Field Station scientists teamed up with colleagues from the US and Canada to analyze data on lower trophic levels in Lake Huron. The report in the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission special publication series is available on line. These analyses shows relatively stable nutrient, phytoplankton, zooplankton and benthos in Lake Huron since 2006 after a rather sharp decline in all but the benthos in 2003-2004. The report is based on data collected by the EPA Biomonitoring Program (Cornell for zooplankton, mysids, and deep chlorophyll layers - Watkins, Rudstam and Scofield, Buffalo State for benthos – Karatayev and Burlakova; University of Minnesota for phytoplankton – Reavie, EPA for nutrients and satellite data – Barbiero, Lesht and Hinchey, and nearshore data from Ontario – Howell). There collaborations among Great Lakes scientists is a hallmark of CBFS’s Great Lakes program.

Scientists aboard the R/V Lake Guardian use the rosette sampler to record measurements and take water samples from the lake surface to the bottom. Photo credit: Kristy Phillips

Effect of Lake Trophic State on Great Lakes Chlorophyll Distribution and Implications for Long-Term Trends

Oct 2, 2020

CBFS graduate student now Dr. Annie Scofield working with Watkins and Rudstam from CBFS and Eric Osantowski from EPA recently published a study in the journal Limnology and Oceanography that highlights the importance of comparing how chlorophyll distributions vary in the Great Lakes, both across lakes and over time.  The study is based on data collected from the EPA Great Lakes National Program Office vessel R/V Lake Guardian.  Deep chlorophyll layers contribute to the productivity of these lakes and affect distributions of zooplankton and fish.  Given the current ecological changes in the Great Lakes, it is important to better understand how these deep chlorophyll are affected by nutrients and water clarity, and the ultimate effects on the food web. This paper is the first study to compare the formation and extent of these deep chlorophyll layers across the five Great Lakes. The authors found that light determines the depth of the DCL and the productivity of the layer is higher in Lake Ontario than in the upper Great Lakes. Dr. Scofield also worked with undergraduate interns on this project, including Kayden Nasworthy and Catherine Louie (summer ’15). 

Scientists pictured aboard the R/V Lake Guardian include the author of the study Annie Scofield along with former Cornell Biological Field Station intern and Duke Fellow Catherine Louie (summer '15). 

Barcoding Workshop held at Shackelton Point

Jul 9, 2020

At the end of February 2020, scientists as well as EPA representatives managing or participating in the GLRI Barcoding Initiative project gathered at Cornell Biological Field Station to share updates with the group. 

The fisheries and limnology of Oneida Lake 2019

May 7, 2020

Oneida Lake is New York State’s 3rd most heavily fished lake. Walleye have historically received the majority of targeted effort, with black bass increasing in importance in recent years. Long-term monitoring of the fisheries and limnology of Oneida Lake has captured a series of changes in recent decades that have resulted in pronounced changes in the lake’s physical and biological characteristics, including reductions in nutrient inputs resulting from the Great Lakes Basin water quality agreements;  establishment of invasive dreissenid mussels resulting in increases in water clarity; increases in summer water temperatures and decreases in duration of ice cover; establishment of a breeding population of double-crested cormorants; and increases in populations of white perch and gizzard shad. 

Anna Poslednik

Recent Cornell Biological Field Station intern Awarded Prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

Apr 15, 2020

Congratulations to recent Cornell Biological Field Station intern Anna Poslednik ’21 in receiving the Goldwater Scholarship.  The Goldwater Scholarship is one of the most prestigious awards available to sophomores and juniors across U.S. colleges who show exceptional promise in the fields of science, mathematics and engineering.
As one of the selected 396 recipients from approximately 5,000 nominees, she will receive up to $7,500 to cover expenses like tuition, books and room and board for her senior year. As part of the selection process, colleges nominate up to four students who intend to pursue a career in research and have at least a 3.0 GPA.
Anna first started her research at her summer 2019 internship guided by Postdoc Tom Evans and Senior Research Associate Randy Jackson. The following is an excerpt taken from the Cornell Daily Sun.

What We Don't Know (About Lakes) Could Hurt Us

Mar 6, 2020

As the power of extreme weather events increase with climate change, a team of scientists warn that lakes around the world may dramatically change, threatening ecosystem health and water quality.

The Spiny Water Flea, Bythotrephes Longimanus

Sep 23, 2019

The spiny water flea, Bythotrephes longimanus, a predatory zooplankton species native to lakes in Europe, has been found for the first time in Oneida Lake this week.  

Comparison of Great Lakes Zooplankton Communities/Great Lakes restoration Initiative

Jul 26, 2019

(July 25, 2019) A new paper published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research, authored by U.S. EPA contract scientists Rick Barbiero and Barry Lesht and Cornell University researchers Lars Rudstam and Jim Watkins, offers an unprecedented look at zooplankton communities across the Great Lakes during a period of great change in the lakes.

Record Sturgeon

Recent Sturgeon Catch May Be the Largest Fish Ever Recorded From Oneida Lake

Jun 19, 2019

Last week, researchers at the Cornell University Biological Field Station may have set a new mark 
for the largest fish ever recorded from Oneida Lake. A netting survey for lake sturgeon resulted in 
the tagging and release of a 139 pound sturgeon, the largest sturgeon handled since the sturgeon 
netting survey began 17 years ago in 2002, and possibly the largest fish ever documented in Oneida Lake.