Shenandoah National Park awarded the 2016 Shenandoah National Park Trust Research Grant to Christine L. May, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, James Madison University, for her project “Revealing the Current Relation between Stream Acidification and Fish Species Richness: What is the Trend after Almost Two Decades of Recovery?”
According to Dr. May, “Acid rain is one of the leading and persistent causes of environmental decline in the eastern United States.” Her work will study the effects of acid rain on fish diversity in 14 streams throughout Shenandoah National Park. Specifically, her study will assess the relation between the acidity of park streams and the numbers of fish species that live in those streams. She will compare the data collected today to similar research completed in the 1990’s to determine changes over time.
“The primary threat to park ecosystems from air pollution is the acidification of streams,” said Jalyn Cummings, Air and Water Resources Program Manager at Shenandoah National Park. Understanding the relationship between how air pollution impacts water quality and the aquatic life that depends on the water for survival is important in helping manage park resources.
“We are very grateful to the Shenandoah National Park Trust for supporting this important research project and for their on-going commitment to funding research in the park each year,” said Jim Northup, Park Superintendent. “As a science based organization, the results of this research will help guide our management in the future and help us achieve our goal of maintaining the park unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”
“The Shenandoah National Park Trust is pleased to be able to help deepen the understanding of how our park’s ecosystems are functioning,” said Trust President Susan Sherman. “Donors to the Trust who support the research grant program are helping ensure the long-term health and vitality of our park.”
To learn more about this project or how to apply for a grant in the future, go to