Waterbirds as Indicators of Environmental Health in the Laurentian Great Lakes.


Waterbirds can provide excellent indicators of the environmental condition of lakes, shallow wetlands, and flowing waters. The birds respond to changes in the distribution and abundance of food and breeding habitat, and declines in health and reproductive success can  indicate the prevalence of chemical contaminants or pathogens. My research is focused on mapping the dispersion and abundance of birds on Lake Ontario and the St Lawrence River, to understand how the birds respond to changes in nutrient levels, distribution of shoreline breeding and roosting habitat, and the appearance of new pathogens such as Type E botulism. This work is done in collaboration with Clarkson University's Great Rivers Center.


I have also begun collaborative work evaluating the distribution and conservation-value of wetlands in the St. Lawrence Valley, via field surveys of water quality and indicator species, and by using geographic information system (GIS) analyses of the landscape.




Selected Publications

Gouva S.P., C. Melendez, M.J. Carberry, G.S. Bullerjahn, S.W. Wilhelm, T.A. Langen, and M.R. Twiss. 2006. Phosphorus bioavailability and plankton distributions in Lake Ontario in the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel, September 2003. Journal of Great Lakes Research 32:455-470. reprint

Twiss M.R., T.A. Langen, M.G. Giroux, S.M. Johns, N.E. Liddle, A.R. Snyder, D.P. Zeleznock, and J. Wojcik. 2006. Land use influence on water quality in the Saint Regis River, a north-flowing tributary of the St. Lawrence. Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies 13:26-32. reprint

Langen T.A., M.R. Twiss, G.S. Bullerjahn, and  S.W. Wilhelm. 2005. Pelagic bird survey on Lake Ontario following Hurricane Isabel, September 2003: Observations and remarks on methodology. Journal of Great Lakes Research 31:219-226. reprint

Twiss, M.R., T.A. Langen, G.S. Bullerjahn, S.W. Wilhelm, and D.C. Rockwell. 2005. The Lake Ontario Great Lakes Science Practicum: A model for training limnology students on how to conduct shipboard research in the Great Lakes. Journal of Great Lakes Research 31:236-242. reprint


Press Releases & Clippings (linked)



Text Box: Surveying for waterbirds on Lake Ontario, offshore from Toronto.

Text Box: Clarkson University's research vessel the R/V Lavinia, on the St. Lawrence River.




















last updated 8 November 2006