MERI regularly assesses the abundance, diversity and health of fish and other aquatic animals in the Meadowlands District. Recent collection of fish from various spots in the Hackensack River has shown several species are abundant, including white perch, striped bass, and gizzard shad. Analysis of tissues taken from selected species will soon provide data on whether the animals living in the Hackensack are accumulating contaminants such as pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and heavy metals like mercury and lead. This data can be used to determine whether the level of contamination poses a risk to human and/or the ecosystem.
White Perch collected for tissue analysis are being used in a study that will identify what the fish eat. In addition to observing the stomach contents of fish, this study will determine which plants form the base of the food web. Researchers will also study fish reproductive status and look for hormonal imbalances that may be caused by chemicals in the water. A similar project is ongoing in the Chesapeake Bay and the study will allow a rare and valuable comparison between fish in the Meadowlands and Chesapeake Bay.