Northeast Aquatic Biologists Conference March 4 – 6, 2020 Newport, RI Report by Keith Williams Ph.D.

posted Mar 15, 2020, 8:43 AM by Joseph Bickard

Northeast Aquatic Biologists Conference

March 4 – 6, 2020

Newport, RI

Report by Keith Williams Ph.D.


There were three concurrent sessions going on all the time, for a total of 54 sessions plus a plenary presentation. I attended 14 sessions and the plenary. Here are some highlights.


Plenary Session: River Flow Changes Under Climate Change by David Vallee.

Jet stream is shifting, and the  sea ice cover in Arctic is decreasing. In Northeast, atmospheric moisture in increasing, flooding is increasing. Maine coastal winter temperatures are rising 0.3 F per decade, ice-outs are now two weeks earlier than decades ago, precipitation is increasing one inch per decade, count of days having more than two inches of rainfall is increasing. Maine ice-out dates are averaging two weeks earlier than decades ago. Federal Emergency Management Agency floodplain and flood depth maps are being revised. NOAA National Water Model is going through significant improvements, and flood prediction is improving.


Algal Classification Index for Stream Assessments in NH, by Alison Watts.

Using eDNA, 30 streams, 60 samples in 2019. Collection by Tom Danielson’s method (Maine DEP) for algae on rocks, U.S. EPA method on flowing water. Reference sites are on streams influenced by little or no human activity. Discussion of lab procedures, DNA primers, etc. There is a free computer program, Chime (misspelled). Indicator pollutant is total phosphorus, and Benthic Indicator Index. More nutrients → more algae diversity. Used UniFRac analysis, extension of multivariate statistical analysis.


Bioassessment for Phytoplankton, by Tom Danielson.

188 sites, used Principal Component Analysis, Linear Discriminate model, Biological Condition Gradient. Tom showed slides of several algae and discussed what they indicate, such as pH, conductivity, salt, and more.


NH Water Quality Trends, by Kirsten Nelson.

150 lakes, 10 or more years of monitoring by NH Volunteer Lake Assessment Program.

Used Mann-Kendall statistical analysis, Mann-Whitney U test for trends. Secchi is decreasing, specific conductivity increasing, total phosphorus increasing, alkalinity increasing, dissolved oxygen decreasing, temperature increasing. Rather like Highland Lake also. Discussion of increased human influence and climate change, both are acting.


Water Resources Database (WRDB) by Tom Danielson.

Kevin M. and I are considering using this for HL stream data.




SPATT and DGT for Sampling Cyanotoxins by Jennifer Graham.

These devices can detect lower amounts than traditional ELISA tests. Cyanobacteria blooms can change dramatically in as little as five minutes, when high wind suddenly arises and sets up water movement including whitecaps.


Lake Habitat Quality by Jeremy Deeds.

Data from over 300 lakes. 10 sites around each lake, macrophyte cover, human development, substrate, etc. Sandy substrate, Simpson Diversity Index for macrophytes, discriminate. Clean diatoms with hydrogen peroxide, identify using website “Diatoms of North America”.


Iron Nodules in Lakes by Jonathan Higgins.

Sulfur can be a chemical control of iron and thus phosphorus.


In addition to the above sessions, I attended seven others at which I did not keep notes. For example, several were on using eDNA to identify fish, algae, cyanobacteria, zooplankton, protozoa, bacteria, etc., that are in a lake, but that approach is under intense development, refinement, validation, and experimentation. A couple of lectures were on very expensive equipment and programs that are in just planning stage or just getting under way.