Department Chair

Martha Skerrett, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair of Biology

Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

Biology, M.A.


Biology Department


Christopher M. Pennuto

Department Home page

First Reader

Christopher M. Pennuto

Second Reader

Alicia Pérez-Fuentetaja

Third Reader

Randal J. Snyder


Trophic cascades involve powerful feeding interactions that can alter the flow of energy and the abundance of species in an ecosystem. In western NY streams, the negative impacts of a new benthic invertivore, the round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) is altering benthic community structure and leaf litter decomposition. Streams with round gobies have a reduced abundance of shredders and slower leaf decay than streams without gobies. However, crayfish, as shredders of leaf litter, may be large or aggressive enough to avoid predation by round gobies. I used a 30-day full factorial field experiment with blocks to determine if round gobies affected the role of the crayfish (Orconectes propinquus) in the breakdown of detritus. I found no significant difference (P > 0.05) in the decay rates of red maple leaves (Acer rubrum) among treatments. However, I observed a difference in the number of prey consumed by predators among treatments (P