In 1984, PEREC began a long-term ecosystem study of Gunston Cove. The study aims to gain a greater understanding of the ecological conditions of the watershed. The study started right after the Noman M. Cole, Jr. pollution control plant proactively improved water treatment by including nutrient removal, and the study documents the recovery of the system from point source driven eutrophication. At the same time, urban runoff from the rapid development of Fairfax county increases non-point source pollution every year, keeping the study of this freshwater tidal ecosystem pertinent. The long-term nature of the study provides valuable information on fish community changes over time, as a result of water quality and habitat changes, as well as species invasions. Annual reports are found on the PEREC website.
Dr. de Mutsert and members of her lab currently collect the fish data for this ongoing project.