Environmental research center celebrates 50th anniversary in Columbia

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COLUMBIA - The USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center (CERC) is celebrating its 50th anniversary Thursday. Congress founded CERC in 1966 to study the effect of pesticides and pollution on fish and wildlife. Since then, CERC has made monumental discoveries on species like the invasive Asian carp and the endangered Sturgeon fish.

USGS scientists are also working on what causes certain species of male fish to carry eggs. 

"We work on issues like the intersex of fish and endocrine disrupting chemicals and determining what kind of potential effects they have on the environment and the fish," said Carl Orazio, the deputy director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

USGS scientists and representatives for Vicky Hartzler, R-Missouri and U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy blunt will be speak at the anniversary.  

Orazio said CERC is the first lab in the nation established by congress to research pesticide contamination in fish.

He said the agency has done national and international work on all continents except Africa.

Duane Chapman, a research fish biologist for USGS who studies the invasive Asian carp, said, "We are learning about the early stages in the [Asian carp] life cycle so we can figure out where they spawn and attack their achilles' heel."

According to Orazio, Asian carp have been out-competing the native fish species for food and are causing a problem to other fish habitats.

A tour of CERC and a lunch will follow the ceremony starting at 9 a. m.