Glenville State University Student Conducts Institution’s First Live Vertebrate Experiment
Wed Mar 15, 2023
Glenville State University student Jared Bishop stands near his experiment setup inside the Department of Land Resources Environmental Science lab. (GSU Photo/Kristen Cosner)


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GLENVILLE, WV – Glenville State University senior and Honors Program student Jared Bishop is conducting experimentation for his honors thesis focused on the “Assessment of Biological and Chemical Contamination in southern West Virginia’s Cold-Water Fisheries.” The two-phase experiment examines the effects of industrial waste and infrastructural concerns in Elkhorn Creek (located in McDowell County) and the Upper Guyandotte drainages (Raleigh and Wyoming Counties) in comparison to the unaffected streams within Camp Creek State Forest (located in Mercer County).

Bishop’s project began in October 2021 with the collection of water samples from five sites within each study area watershed. He received funding from EnerGIS to conduct the study.

“Using the water quality data obtained through the preliminary study, it was determined that water quality was variable per drainage and each system could be regarded as a treatment group for experimentation,” Bishop noted. In January 2023, he revisited water sample locations for the purpose of soil collection. Five gallons of soil were collected from each drainage and brought back to Glenville State’s Environmental Science laboratory to serve as a streambed substrate and contaminant source for each experimental treatment group.

The soil samples from each drainage were added to a storage container along with 25 gallons of dechlorinated water. Each container was insulated with polystyrene and plumbed into an aquarium chiller to maintain a constant water temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Water from the reservoir is pushed into the first of two coolers, which act as enclosures for specimens and provide two replicates of each treatment. Once water levels in the first tank reach the overflow pipe, water flows into the second tank placed at a slightly lower elevation than the first. In a similar fashion, once the water level in the second tank reaches the outlet pipe, it returns to the reservoir. Through the continuous cycling of water, the enclosure systems and soil samples placed in the reservoir simulate the hydrology of a stream and serve as a realistic model of southern West Virginia’s trout streams,” Bishop explained.

The first phase of the experiment concluded in early March and utilized 600 rainbow trout eggs donated by the USDA’s Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture Research Center. Over the ten-day observation period, Bishop monitored egg mortality and development until all surviving specimens had reached the fry stage. In the life cycle of a fish, the fry stage is generally when fish can actively feed themselves in a limited manner.

The second phase of Bishop’s experiment is now underway. In this phase, using 120 rainbow trout fingerlings donated by the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, survivorship and growth rates will be monitored for a month to determine the effects of water chemistry on juvenile trout. After experimentation concludes, Bishop plans to present his experimental results and associated statistics at Glenville State’s Pioneer Showcase.

His project, which is believed to be the first live vertebrate experiment by a Natural Resource Management student, was approved by GSU’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

EnerGIS is a nonprofit organization that describes itself as a production of events featuring geospatial educational content within the energy industry and a meeting place for GIS and geospatial professionals to gather with colleagues to discuss topics of current interest and new challenges within the industry.

For more information about the programs within the Department of Land Resources at Glenville State University, contact the Department of Land Resources at or (304) 462-6370.