Project title: Was lake water quality affected by Gypsy Moth caterpillars in 2016?
Mentors: Linda Green and Elizabeth Herron
Abstract: The unexpected Gypsy moth caterpillar invasion the summer of 2016 swept across Rhode Island affecting 200,000 acres and left many trees bare especially in Southern Rhode Island. This was the first time since the early 1980s that such extensive defoliation occurred in Rhode Island. Gypsy moths (Lymantria dispar dispar) are an invasive species that were inadvertently introduced to New England in the 1860s. The purpose of my project was to determine if lake water quality was affected in infested watersheds. Water samples were collected by Watershed Watch volunteers and URI Watershed Watch student staff, from ponds that were experiencing high levels of caterpillar infestation and some ponds that were not, as reported by the volunteers themselves. The samples were analyzed for nutrient levels and then compared to data from previous years at those sites. In this poster, phosphorus results are focused on.