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Cohoes students help with Cornell University science project

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WATERFORD (WRGB) – Students in Cohoes are getting out of the classroom to help Cornell University with scientific research.

It’s a citizen science program called the Fish Tracker Project. Students and teachers from across New York State have been participating. They collect water samples from their area to gather DNA data about invasive fish species and threatened native species.

Laura Murawski, the Living Environment Teacher at Cohoes High School, said she jumped at the chance for her class to participate. Her class collected samples from the Mohawk River near Peebles Island.

“We can collect water samples and filter out the DNA through the equipment that they sent, and we'll send back these little filter papers that maybe will have the DNA on it,” Murawski said.

She taught about invasive species in the classroom before the experiment, and she says she’s looking forward to discussing the state-wide results with her students afterwards.

“I feel like the real long-term meaning will come from ‘What did we find? And ‘What does it mean?’, and ‘What does it mean in relationship to what they found in the harbor? Or ‘What does it mean in Poughkeepsie?’” Murawski said.

Her class conducted the sampling on Tuesday morning – the same day as the statewide “A Day in the Life of the Hudson” event. Students from schools located all along the Hudson River participate. They collect data that shows a snapshot of the health of the Hudson River.

Students of all ages in Cornell conducted several experiments on Peebles Island. They fished to count the number and types of fish in the Hudson River, they tracked the river currents, looked at the cloud cover, gathered data about the water chemistry, and more.

Cornell is in their 4th year of the Fish Tracker program. So far, they’ve collected samples from more than 400 sites.

Cornell University Senior Research Associate Donna Cassidy-Hanley says they are only looking at specific species for this project, including:

Invasive fish species include

Round Goby - (Neogobius melanostomus)

four Asian carp species - (Ctenopharyngodon idella, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix, Hypophthalmichthys nobilis, Mylopharyngodon piceus)

Northern Snakehead - (Channa argus)

White Perch - (Morone americana)

Asian Swamp Eel - (Monopterus albus)

Threatened native species include

Lake Herring, also known as Deepwater Cicso - (Coregonus artedii)

American Eel - (Anguilla rostrate)

To learn more about the Fish Tracker Program, click here: https://fishtracker.vet.cornell.edu/

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