Macroinvertebrate courtesy David H. Funk

Macroinvertebrate courtesy David H. Funk

Information taken from http: www.stroudcenter.org

The Stroud Water Research Center’s scientific staff is internationally acclaimed for its pioneering research on streams and rivers. The scientists work in interdisciplinary research teams, blending their individual talents in chemistry, microbial ecology, invertebrate biology, watershed ecology, and ecosystem modeling to study the physical, chemical, and biological processes of streams and rivers, the life histories of individual organisms, and the ecology of watersheds.

While much of the research is done in streams, rivers and watersheds throughout the world, visitors are amazed to find part of White Clay Creek flowing through the Stroud Water Research Center laboratories. Some of its water has been diverted into an experimental channel that reproduces the natural world so well that algae, insects and fish mature in the lab at the same rate they do outside. This enables the researchers to carry out ecosystem simulation experiments and thereby bridge the gap between laboratory and field studies. They then test and refine the hypotheses and methods they have developed in the laboratory on streams and rivers all around the globe.

The Center’s educational programs seek to disseminate the findings of the research projects, serve as a resource for science teachers, and enhance the stewardship of watersheds. Designed for students and lay people of all ages and levels of scientific learning, the programs include hands-on elementary school science projects, staff-taught courses at local universities, public workshops, lectures and forums, and a summer institute for middle-school teachers funded by the National Science Foundation.

In 1989 the Stroud Water Research Center helped establish the Maritza Biological Station in the Guanacaste Conservation Area of Costa Rica. Located at the base of the Orosí Volcano in the northwest corner of the country, the station is the Center’s headquarters for the study of tropical ecosystems. It also serves as an information source for Latin American scientists and land managers who are interested in implementing conservation strategies in tropical streams and watersheds.

Geographical Location

The Stroud Water Research Center is located in Chester County, Pennsylvania, about 40 miles (65 km) WSW of Philadelphia, and about 60 miles (95 km) NE of Baltimore. The Center is situated adjacent to White Clay Creek (39º 15’50″N, 75º 47’16″W) in the Pennsylvania Piedmont physiographic province. White Clay Creek is a tributary of the Christina River which flows into the Delaware Bay.

The Piedmont Province is a physiographic region characterized by gentle to rough, hilly terrain on belted crystalline rocks becoming more hilly towards mountains (Chorley et al. 1984). Residing between the Coastal Plain and either the Ridge and Valley Province or the Blue Ridge Province, the Piedmont was an important area for European colonization because of the abundance of water power along the fall line or transition from the Piedmont to the Coastal Plain.

The White Clay Creek watershed is typical of the Piedmont within the eastern deciduous forest, in that a few old trees (>200 years) remain, but most of the forest was clear cut. The present mature growth in the White Clay Creek Ecological Reserve is 60 to 100 years old.

The Stroud Water Research Center and its 800 ha, 3rd-order drainage basin was designated in 1981 as an Experimental Ecological Reserve by the National Science Foundation. This designation, based upon the criteria of site quality, research activities, logistics, and financial support, recognizes that this field research facility is dedicated to long-term experimental research on an ecosystem that is an outstanding representative of its type. The East Branch of White Clay Creek is classified by the State of Pennsylvania as an “Exceptional Value” stream and watershed which is the highest classification given by the State. The designation affords the stream and its watershed special protection against environmental disturbance of anthropogenic origin. Further protection is afforded by the conservation easements presently in force over much of the watershed.

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