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Emerald shiner research a highlight for Great Lakes Center

Alexander Y. Karatayev, director of Buffalo State's Great Lakes Center

A tiny fish has been making a big splash in local aquatic research. The emerald shiner is the focus of a research project at Buffalo State’s Great Lakes Center. The bite-sized specimen is only a few inches long, but it plays a big role in the local aquatic system.

“It’s a small fish that is really one of the foundations of the food web for all kinds of animals, fish and birds,” said Mark Clapsadl, field station manager and research associate.  “They’re hugely important. Everything eats them, everything depends on them eventually. And, we know almost nothing about them.”

Clapsadl and his team of researchers have been studying the fish on the north end of the Niagara River for the last two years learning and gathering information about population levels and their genetics.

“(We) have been working on the project trying to figure out as much as we can bout about their life, history and the things that affect them,” he said.

The emerald shiner project is just one of the projects displayed during the center’s anniversary celebration last week.

The center celebrated 50 years of Great Lakes based research and education. The center has several accomplishments over the years, but one in particular stands out for the center’s director Alexander Karatayev.

“I came to Buffalo State eight years ago and one of the most important accomplishments for me and for people working in the center was in 2012 together with university of Cornell we get almost 4 million dollar grant money toward water quality and fish food resources for all five Great Lakes.”

Since its inception the center has achieved several milestones including acquiring research vessels, acquiring property on the waterfront and conducting extensive research on invasive species.

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