Seeking Properties with River Access for Smithsonian Study

VWL partners from the Smithsonian Working Land and Seascapes program are seeking access to properties with a stream or branch that connects to, or is on, the Rappahannock or Rapidan Rivers. They aim to place temperature loggers at various locations throughout the watershed from February to May 2021 in an effort to learn more about how water temperatures are impacting fish. Learn more about the project below.

About the Project

VWL partner project: water temperature dynamics in the Rappahannock and Rapidan River

Water temperature drives the life cycles of many aquatic plants and animals. Migratory fish, for example, match their movements and spawning behaviors with seasonal warming and cooling patterns. In the Rappahannock and Rapidan River, warming spring temperatures trigger fish such as river herring and American eel to migrate up into tributaries to spawn. However, despite temperature’s importance to the aquatic ecosystem, it is only regularly measured in these rivers at one or two locations on the mainstem. With the Smithsonian Institute’s Working Land and Seascapes (WLS) program*, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center scientists are planning to examine how temperature fluctuates over time in different sections of the river network. This project will assess how tributaries (i.e. branches and streams) contribute to downstream temperatures, as well as the thermal impacts of land use (e.g. urban space) and other human influences (e.g. dams).

The plan is to measure water temperature from February to May 2021 throughout the Rappahannock and Rapidan River networks using water temperature loggers (see next page). Loggers will be placed in tributaries and along the mainstem by Smithsonian scientists, anchored underwater using a single rebar spike. Access to sampling sites is needed for the scientists to install the loggers, check on them once every two weeks, and remove the loggers at the end of the season. Besides granting access, no other effort by the landowner is needed. Any property with a stream or branch that connects to the Rappahannock or Rapidan River, or on the mainstem of either river, would qualify for this project. All participating properties will receive an update on the project with the annual VWL report. If you are interested in allowing researchers to sample the water on your property please contact Henry Legett (Smithsonian Fellow;

Henry Legett, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow

Email: Phone: (904)382-6774

* Working Land and Seascapes (WLS) program is a network of individuals and institutions that aims to foster healthy and productive landscapes and seascapes for the benefit of people and nature.

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