Environmental Science Faculty Receive Grant to Study Thiamine Deficiencies in Sea Duck Populations

Jacob Straub and his co-PIs, Jacques Rinchard and Christopher Norment received funding from the Great Lakes Research Consortium to study the relationship between thiamine deficiency and diving and sea duck populations on the Great Lakes.

Jacob Straub (Department of Environmental Science & Ecology) and his co-PIs Jacques Rinchard and Chistopher Norment (Department of Environmental Science and Ecology) received a $24,432 grant from the Great Lakes Research Consortium (funded by NYS Department of Environmental Conservation) to study the relationship between thiamine deficiency and diving and sea duck populations on the Great Lakes.

Thiamine deficiency has impacted trout and other fish leading to high mortality rates of fish in the Great Lakes, but much less is known about the impacts on birds. This study seeks to look at the relationship between thiamine deficiency, ducks’ prey, and the duck populations in the Great Lakes to determine if thiamine deficiency is a potential cause for their declining numbers.

Straub, Rinchard, and Norment, along with undergraduate student researchers, will measure thiamine levels from liver and muscle tissues from diving and sea ducks in the Niagara River, Northern Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River, and compare their levels to previous research. They will also measure the thiamine levels in mussels, the ducks’ prey item, from known feeding locations of ducks in the study area. The levels will be analyzed to determine if ducks are thiamine deficient. The study will be the initial phase to leverage resources to assess if there are wide-ranging and pervasive population-level effects of thiamine deficiency on waterfowl.

The grant will be administered by The Research Foundation for SUNY at SUNY Brockport.

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