A Lesson in Stream Restoration


Grand Valley State University Students Nick Preville and Adam Walker, as well as Auburn University student Mary Szoka, are hanging out this summer in the culverts of Barry County.

The students are studying the effects culverts have on the sediment and flow regime of the rivers and how that then affects macroinvertebrates and fish.


Preville, Walker, and Szoka culvert hunting!

Preville and Walker are studying biology with an emphasis in aquatic science. Szoka is a biosystems engineering major who was working this summer at Grand Valley State University’s Annis Water Research Institute.  Preville is from Lansing, and Walker is from Otsego.  Szoka  lives in Alabama.

Learn more about their project in the below:

Why did you choose this particular project?

Preville: “My professor suggested it, and I love nature and science because there is always something new to discover.  It’s always amazing to see just how many macroinvertebrates and fish are in a stretch of river.”

What do you hope to learn from the project?

Walker: “I really want to be able to identify fish and insects on the spot without hesitation.  I also want to gain as much knowledge into the aspects that revolve around rivers and streams.  Ecology is the most important thing in my mind so I hope working at Pierce will really broaden my mind on the subject.”

What can the project teach others?

Preville: “Our project can teach people that rivers are vital aspects of modern life, and when we manipulate them it can lead to problems for not only the ecosystem but also for people in the area.

I hope to learn more about fish ecology and how they respond to disturbances in rivers.”

Walker:  “I hope they learn some major ecological roles that rivers and streams have. I also hope that they understand how sensitive these waterways are and how easily affected they are based on human activity.

What is the process for analyzing the fish?

Preville: “We have a backpack with a battery hooked to it. It shocks the fish and then we put them in a bucket that has a tub around it.  It makes sure we don’t lose the fish. We take the fish out and identify and measure them.

Does shocking hurt the fish?

Walker: “No, the small fish come back almost immediately. Older ones catch more voltage, so they stay out longer…I’d say 30 seconds.”

What is your favorite spot at the Institute?

Preville: “I love Brewster Lake.”

Szoka: “Being out in the streams.”

Walker: “My favorite location is an old growth section of forest about a mile or so down the yellow trail. It has massive vines you can swing around on.”

What are your hopes after graduation?

Preville: “Get a job or graduate school. Find a job in river rehab or fishing community research.”

Walker: “Take the GRE and go to graduate school.”

Szoka: “Same for me—take the GRE and go to graduate school.”





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