Studying the impact in local Maine waters

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The Unity College Honors Program offers an engaging challenge for academically talented and motivated students from all academic disciplines. Professor Pamela MacRae works with honors students in a population and community ecology class at China Lake. Photo by Mark Tardif.
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Recently awarded the inaugural Unity College Undergraduate Research Mentor Award, Pam MacRae will work with Wildlife and Fisheries Management major Brian Eaton ’16 on a project to study fish assemblage structure in lakes, investigating the impact of alewives in local Maine waters. They will begin their research in fall 2014.

The Impact of Alewives in Local Maine Waters

Specfically, MacRae and her research student will look at the effects of re-introducing alewives on small schooling fishes in the littoral zone, the area of the lake that is close to the shore. These littoral fish typically feed on plankton and are prey to area sport fish, occupying an important place in marine food webs.

Maine’s historically thriving alewife population has plummeted over the last two centuries, largely due to dams that block the natural spawning migration pattern of the species. The effect on recreational fish of alewife re-introduction in area lakes has been the focus of various local studies, however MacRae’s background and experience as a fish community ecologist brings to light the importance of examining the impact on small forage fish as well.