Dr. Chad Snyder, associate professor of chemistry and director of chemical research at Grace College, and Dr. Joe Smith, director of animal programs at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, recently began a research partnership to help ensure the long-term health of the zoo’s pond system. Dr. Snyder and research students will conduct routine water chemistry analyses including pH, dissolved oxygen, chloride, calcium, nitrate, nitrite and phosphate concentrations as well as algae counts and algae species distributions. Their third visit to the African Journey biome took place Wednesday.
“It’s very exciting to begin a research partnership with the zoo,” said Dr. Chad Snyder. “Our goal at Grace College is to help the zoo understand its pond system’s water quality and develop strategies to keep it healthy for all of its aquatic inhabitants. After three monthly visits, we are encouraged by the collaboration and potential long-term benefit we can create for the zoo.”Will Lorenz, a chemistry research student at Grace College, wades through Small Pasture Pond to take a sample of the water.
With the permission of Dr. Smith and the zoo’s Animal Research and Conservation Committee, Grace College faculty
and students enter several of the zoo’s enclosures to obtain pond samples. “This proactive approach helps us gather necessary data from a variety of ponds and assess variations in the water samples to appropriately respond to any potentially unhealthy conditions,” added Snyder.
The African Journey’s pond system is home to 11 species of birds and mammals that inhabit the ponds.
“Dr. Snyder and his research assistant are helping to systematically document our water quality and algae content over time to help determine what factors might lead to unsightly algae blooms and unstable water conditions,” said Dr. Joe Smith. “We are committed to ensuring the long-term health of all animal species at the zoo, and our pond system health is essential in this endeavor. We are pleased to partner with Grace College to this end,” he said.
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