Ongoing Research at Trout Lake

If interested in doing research at Trout Lake Field Station please contact Susan Knight, Station Interim Director or call at 715-356-9494

There are many research projects at Trout Lake Station. Below are links to several of our long term projects.

North Temperate Lakes Long-Term Ecological Research

Microbial Observatory - McMahon Lab, Univ of WI-Madison

Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON)

USGS Water Energy Biogeochemical Budget

Along with the long term projects we have undergrads, grad students, post doc and visiting faculty conducting research at the station. These include but are not limited to:

Dr. Noah Lottig:I am an Assistant Scientist and Site Manager with the North Temperate Lakes Long Term Ecological Research Program. My primary research interests focus around ecosystem ecology and landscape limnology. I am particularly interested in understanding the long-term dynamics of aquatic ecosystems as well as the role aquatic ecosystems play in the regional and global carbon cycle.

Dr. Tom RooneyWe are testing a new protocol for garlic mustard eradication. In another project, we are conducting an acoustic frog and toad survey.

Dr. Carl Watras: WDNR research scientist, Limnological investigations of northern lakes and wetlands, with an emphasis on atmospheric contaminants (mercury and acid rain), water budgets and carbon cycling. Biogeochemical studies of acid rain and mercury began at the Trout Lake Station (TLS) in the early 1980's, focusing initially on a whole lake experiment in Little Rock Lake, a small (0.2 km2) precipitation-dominated, seepage lake situated in an undisturbed watershed about 5 km from TLS. The whole lake experiment evolved into a synoptic study of relationships between lake acidification and mercury bioaccumulation after it was observed that concentrations of highly toxic methylmercury (meHg) increased in water, phytoplankton, zooplankton, and fish during experimental acidification – and then returned to background levels during recovery.The synoptic studies have shown further that water level fluctuations and organic carbon export from wetlands also play a role in lake acidification and mercury contamination.These observations prompted intensive studies of wetland hydrodynamics using wireless sensor networks to track fluctuations in water levels and the flow of critical solutes over time scales ranging from hours to years (  They also prompted investigations that revealed a climatically-driven, near-decadal oscillation that has dominated the regional water cycle for most of the last century (

Alex LinzAlthough you can't see them, microbes are crucial members of freshwater ecosystems. Microbes are responsible for decomposition, recycling of nutrients, and harvesting nutrients from the atmosphere. They are a major food source for larger organisms, and changes in the microbial community can impact the entire lake. At the Microbial Observatory, we collect and analyze microbial samples from the same lakes over many years - we've been doing this for over a decade! Our goal is to understand how microbial communities change over long time scales, what drives that change, and how that affects the larger ecosystem. 

Pete GuidenOur work seeks to understand the response of small mammal activity to changes in winter climate. Small mammals consume many ecologically and commercially valuable tree species, and may have underappreciated effects in the winter. However, winters are warming and snowfall is decreasing, which could change the effect of small mammals on tree seed survival. To test this idea, we remove snow from small areas within forests and monitor seed survival and small mammal activity. We hope this work improves management of Wisconsin’s ecologically and economically important tree species by identifying conditions that minimize seed consumption by small mammals.

Dom Ciruzzi: As drought variability is expected to increase across the globe thus varying timing and quantity of water available for forests, it is critical to evaluate ecosystem attributes that reduce drought impacts. Through this research, we plan to evaluate groundwater use by trees as an ecosystem attribute that buffers against the potential adverse impacts of changing drought regimes on temperate forests. We are developing innovative tools to detect drought responses (e.g. water stress) of trees and how these responses may be mediated by shallow groundwater through fieldwork and numerical modeling designed to capture below- and above-ground ecohydrologic processes. website:

K. Martin Perales: Fish communities in northern lakes of Wisconsin are changing; cool-water species are declining as warm-water species are expanding. Understanding the drivers and consequences of these fish community changes are of primary interest to agency and University of Wisconsin aquatic ecologists. Our research will focus on characterizing the abundance/distribution of several fish species and their prey resources throughout the seasons.

Holly Embke: Wisconsin walleye populations have been experiencing declines in recent years due to a combination of factors, but potentially including interactions with other fish species such as largemouth bass. To attempt to determine what is contributing to walleye declines, we will be performing a whole-lake manipulation by removing largemouth bass and other sunfish species from a northern Wisconsin lake. In addition to focusing on fish communities, we will explore how this experiment affects the lake food web in an effort to understand the interactions affecting fisheries recovery efforts.

Jamie Dobosenski: To eradicate invasive cold-water rainbow smelt in Crystal Lake, the lake underwent whole-lake mixing. The manipulation caused 90% mortality of smelt during two consecutive mixing years. Because approximately 10% of the population survived the manipulation, the focus has shifted towards the impact the project had on the genetic assemblage of the smelt community. Population genetics are being recovered from the rainbow smelt specimens collected before, during, and after the whole-lake manipulation to determine if the genetic assemblage changed because of the manipulation.

Chris Sullivan:The primary objective of the project is to determine if large-scale removals of centrarchids result in improved walleye recruitment in northern Wisconsin lakes.

Steve Tyndel: This project will examine how the social cues of Blue-winged and Golden-winged warblers will impact habitat selection decisions in each species. 

Paul SchrammI will be sampling lakes using the FLAMe ( sensor platform to build a model linking surface water chemistry to light attenuation across a gradient of lakes.