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. Susan Knight: I am working with Dr. John Havel (Missouri State University) on a research project involving aquatic invasive species.  We are trying to determine the effectiveness of the milfoil weevil at controlling Eurasian water-milfoil in a field experiment.  I also conduct aquatic plant identification workshops, participate in the review and implementation of aquatic plant management and science projects with the DNR, and participate in outreach activities.

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 RooneyMy research group and I are testing protocols garlic mustard eradication. We are performing a population census, collecting demographic data, and implementing control procedures. Now in its 7th year, we have seen the garlic mustard population decline by over 80%.

Dr. Carl WatrasWDNR 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 LinzWhile bacterial communities are an integral part of freshwater ecosystems, their ecology is not well understood. Using non-culture based techniques such as 16S tag sequencing, metagenomics, and single cell sequencing, we seek to learn more about what a normal freshwater community looks like, and how it changes during disturbances such as eutrophication, lake mixing, or land use change. This work is part of two Microbial Observatory locations – Lake Mendota in Madison, WI, and a group of bogs near Minocqua, WI. Investigations using the Microbial Observatory datasets include looking at how bacterial communities change with the seasons, how bacteria use carbon in freshwater, and what ecology principles apply to microbes.
Lab website:
Lab blog (new!)
I gave a three minute thesis!

Brian Connolly and Pete GuidenWe want to understand the response of small mammal herbivory 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 becoming warmer and snowfall is decreasing, which could change the impact of small mammals on tree survival. To test this idea, we remove snow from small areas within forests and monitor the survival and growth of seeds and seedlings throughout the year. This work will improve our understanding of the importance of winter ecology, and could help forecast the future composition of northern Wisconsin forests.
For more information please visit the Orrock Lab page( or
post-doc Brian Connolly's Linkedin account for some project summaries and updates

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. Depth to groundwater will be the primary environmental gradient for which we will evaluate water stress in trees in the Wisconsin Northwoods. We are collecting multiple lines of evidence in order to support independent observations of groundwater-tree interactions under wet and dry conditions, such as soil moisture, diurnal groundwater fluctuations, sap flow, leaf water potential, biomass, and tree growth chronologies from tree cores. Future directions of this research include testing our understanding of these processes through numerical models of groundwater-tree interactions and analyzing remotely sensed vegetation indices to investigate the spatial extent and under what conditions groundwater influences forest productivity.

K. Martin Perales: A palpable threat to lakes globally is the expansion of lakeshore residential development, which concentrates human impacts in the littoral zone of lakes. Understanding how humans alter aquatic ecosystems is integral to mitigating and managing associated impacts. Our goal is to understand the relationship between human development, habitat, and fish communities in northern lakes. We will sample the littoral fish community and conduct habitat surveys in a variety of lakes along a residential development gradient.

Vince ButittaI am continuing on a project looking at growth patterns of freshwater mussels.  They are the world's most endangered taxa, yet we know little about how they are influenced by their environment.  I am interested in what conditions promote their growth to help understand how mussels will likely respond to a changing environment.