Hudson River Fishes and their Environment

The Hudson River Environment and its Dynamic Fish Community

John R. Waldman, Karin E. Limburg, and David L. Strayer


For its modest size, the Hudson is a well-known river, an outcome of prolonged and intense postcolonial human use and abuse. Indeed, the Hudson is one of the most scientifically-studied rivers in the world (e.g., Levinton and Waldman 2006). Why has the river received so much attention?

Part of its fame is due to its important historical roles as an early inland route for colonization, a Revolutionary War battleground, and the setting for the development of an esthetic movement known as the Hudson River School of painting. Later, it achieved infamy as a waterway that received untold quantities of contaminants: a remarkably extensive suite of industrial wastes and, for many decades, the raw sewage of hundreds of thousands and, eventually millions of inhabitants along its shores. After, as water quality improved due to government programs, other environmental issues emerged, some of them leading to heated conflicts, such as the controversies over the effects of electric-generating facilities on fish populations, the potential harm to the river’s striped bass Morone saxatilis population from the large area of landfill that would have lined one of its shores had a Manhattan highway project nicknamed “the Westway” been approved, and over the desirability of dredging to remove polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from Hudson River sediments.