Fish Fry Day Video: An Encounter with a Prehistoric Fish

Followers of this blog will know that Soloman David, the post-doctoral researcher we share with the Shedd Aquarium, is an unapologetic lover of prehistoric fish and a whiz with a GoPro camera. For this Friday, he sent in a recent encounter with a bowfin.

 Bowfin (also known as dogfish or mudfish) are a truly remarkable species. They have been around since dinosaurs roamed the earth during the Jurassic period and are the only remaining member of the Amiidae family of fish. Like gar, another primitive fish, bowfins are capable of both pulling oxygen out of the water with their gills or rising to the surface and gulping air. For more fun facts on the bowfin, go here.

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Video: Yahara 2070 – Science Fiction Predicts Science Fact

We’re a little late in featuring this wonderfully done piece from QUEST, a group of six public media outfits from across the country, collaborating to provide an in-depth look at the science of sustainability. But here is a great introduction to the Yahara 2070 scenarios.

To learn more about the scenarios, you can check out their website, or read an introduction to the scenarios from lead author, Jenny Seifert.

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Summer of Outreach Starts with Front-Row Seats to Mining Debate

Me, Meredith Smalley, loving summer life in the northwoods of Wisconsin

by Meredith Smalley

Hello there!

I’m Meredith Smalley, and I’ll spend this summer writing about my experience working as the summer outreach intern and living at the University of Wisconsin-Trout Lake Station in Boulder Junction, WI. I hope I can use this opportunity to share what I discover during my short stay in the Northwoods and immersion in limnological research. As an incoming senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in journalism, I hope to incubate what I’ve learned thus far during my “Wisconsin Experience” and develop my writing in the natural science setting.

The six panel speakers and moderator Larry Konopacki during the June 5th forum on mining in the Penokee range

The six panel speakers and moderator Larry Konopacki during the June 5th forum on mining in the Penokee range

My summer started off with a bang, as Trout Lake Station’s first major event was collaborating as part of Science On Tap Minocqua to host a panel discussion regarding mining in the Penokee Range. The event on June 5th aimed to provide the public (nearly 400 of whom filled the room) with unbiased information to better understand what mining in the Penokees might entail. With a panel of experts from the fields of geology, engineering, economics, the environment and regulation, the discussion seemed to thoroughly cover many aspects of the mining process and its potential effects, but there was also hesitation by the speakers to make too many concrete statements about what this particular mining proposal could encompass. Continue reading

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Fish Fry Day: Undergrad Relishes Her Summer Job Dissecting Perch

Limnology, unfortunately, can’t always be about the fieldwork. For every sunny day spent out on a boat in a lake, weeks and months pile up as our students and faculty retreat back to the lab and their computers to try to make sense of all the data they’ve collected.

Samantha "Sam" Neary prepares for another shift dissecting perch.

Samantha “Sam” Neary prepares for another shift dissecting perch.

Even though she’s only an undergrad, Sam Neary already knows this well – which is why I recently found her down in the sweltering Wet Lab cutting the stomachs out of long-frozen yellow perch. Continue reading

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Trout Lake Station “Artist-in-Residence” Program Inspires Art/Science Connection

This summer, Trout Lake Station hosted it’s 2nd annual artist-in-residence – painter, Helen Klebesadel. The program hopes to create collaborative art and science projects focusing on the long-term ecology of lakes. Below is Helen’s recap of her time “up north.”

Allequash Lake, plein air painted watercolor by Helen Klebesadel, near Boulder Junction, WI, June 2014

Allequash Lake, plein air painted watercolor by Helen Klebesadel, near Boulder Junction, WI, June 2014

I have just returned from a splendid ten days of non-stop plein air painting (and skitter swatting) in the lake country around Boulder Junction, Wisconsin.  It was my extreme pleasure to bring my art research through observation to the University of Wisconsin Trout Lake Station as a part of a new artist residency program.  I was given a space to stay and access to a canoe and the researchers working this summer at the Station.  The Trout Lake Station is a year-round field station operated by the Center for Limnology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Located in the Northern Highland Lake District in northern Wisconsin, the station provides access to a wide variety of aquatic ecosystems and their surrounding landscapes. More than 2500 lakes are within 50km of the station.

The Trout Lake Station is a field site of the North Temperate Lakes Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) project, which is part of a national network studying long-term ecological change.  The residency is designed for visual artists, writers and musicians who have specific interests in exploring the relationship between people, northern lakes and landscapes, and the long-term scientific investigations of the LTER project.  One 1-2 week residency between June 1 and August 31 will be offered each year. (Keep an eye out for the next call for applications in the fall.  I will post it on my Art Face Book page.)

My thanks to Trout Lake Research Station Director, Tim K. Kratz , who made me feel so welcome, and to freelance artist and field biologist, Terry Daulton, who was both a guide and an  inspiration.  Both Tim and Terry have been involved in actively imagining how the arts and humanities can become a part of the long terms reflections and research being done at Trout Lake Research Station. Continue reading and see more of Helen’s work ->


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CFL at the Shedd: 10,000+ “Migrate” to Aquarium on World Fish Migration Day

Center for Limnology researchers Solomon David and Ellen Hamann outside Chicago's Shedd Aquarium for World Fish Migration Day. Photo courtesy S. David.

Center for Limnology researchers Solomon David and Ellen Hamann outside Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium for World Fish Migration Day. Photo courtesy S. David.

When the doors to Chicago’s world-famous Shedd Aquarium opened the Saturday before Memorial Day, Center for Limnology researchers were scrambling to get last-second details in place.

Thousands of “fish passports,” a half dozen posters and two enormous fish-researcher cut-outs were at the ready. It was May 24th, World Fish Migration Day. By the day’s end more than 10,000 people would filter through the Shedd and thousands of them learned a little bit about why fish migrate and what makes migratory fish so cool.

“It was pandemonium,” says Stephanie Jnauchowski-Hartley, a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Limnology. But, she says, materials like the “fish passports” the group handed out helped kids (and their parents) navigate the throngs of visitors at the aquarium. The passports featured five species of migratory fishes that are on display at the Shedd. Visitors could then search the aquarium to find each fish, from species like the Great Lakes-dwelling northern pike, to the Amazon River’s giant arapaima. Continue reading

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Clear-Water Phase: Are We Missing Lake Mendota’s Window?

Lake Monona's already doing it, why aren't Mendota's waters this clear? Photo: A. Hinterthuer

Lake Monona’s already doing it, why aren’t Mendota’s waters this clear? Photo: A. Hinterthuer

Over the last two weeks, Lake Monona, Lake Waubesa, and Lake Kegonsa have all entered into their annual rite of spring’s clear-water phase. Lake Mendota, however, remains a murky mystery. Why are the downstream Yahara lakes so clear, when the lake at the top of the chain isn’t? Perhaps more important, are we going to miss Mendota’s clear-water window this year?

Not necessarily, says Ted Bier, research specialist for the North Temperate Lakes Long-Term Ecological Research program. “Mendota was right on the cusp of moving into a clear-water phase over Memorial Day weekend,” Bier says. “But then it got slammed by that last storm.”

If you need a refresher (or aren”t here in Madison) that storm dumped 1 to 2 inches of rain on our fair city in a two-hour span. And all of that water ended up in our lakes, carrying sediments and nutrients that can cloud the water. Sediments can take several days to settle out to the bottom, especially if windy conditions keep them suspended, says Bier. And that sudden influx of nutrients can cause algal blooms.

People around the lake have been noticing. My office, for example, usually affords me a view of carp congregating just off shore for their annual spawning run (million-dollar view, I know). This year, all I can see are ripples on the green surface. The Clean Lakes Alliance recently shared a picture one of their members took of a greenish brown boat wake in Mendota – the result of algae being churned up to the surface by its propellers. Continue reading

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Video: (Migratory) Fish Fry Day – Spawning Suckers

Tomorrow is World Fish Migration Day! We’ll help host activity stations at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, site of just one of 270 events around the globe celebrating the day. Below is an amazing underwater video taken by CFL grad student, Evan Childress, of longnose suckers in Lily Bay Creek, a Door County tributary of Lake Michigan.

At the 1:20 mark, you can see a male fertilizing a female’s eggs. Stay tuned for the full video and there’s some great footage of a school of suckers swimming by and one having, um, technical difficulties navigating the camera!

Enjoy! And, if you’re in Chicago tomorrow, stop by and get you migratory fish “passport” at the Shedd Aquarium!

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CFL at the Shedd Aquarium: World Fish Migration Day, May 24th!

Stop by the Shedd on Saturday and get your picutre taken AS our very own Solomon David!

Stop by the Shedd on Saturday and get your picutre taken AS our very own Solomon David!

At the break of dawn this Saturday, May 24th, Center for Limnology researchers and your trusty blogger will hit the road for Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. Once there, we will help Shedd researchers and volunteers set up a number of activity stations celebrating World Fish Migration Day (WFMD).

What is WFMD, you ask? Well, it’s a one-day global initiative featuring 270 events around the globe all in the name of raising awareness about the importance of migratory fish to ecosystems and economies around the world.

The WFMD website has a great interactive map showing where each event will be held.

World Fish Migration Day Event Map

Our own event at the Shedd will feature a “fish safari” for kids, where they’ll grab a passport and search for five different migratory fish from around the globe within the Shedd’s tanks. We’ll also have life-sized cut-outs where kids can pose as a scientist holding a migratory fish and a science poster session where researchers will discuss their work.

CFL post doc, Steph Januchowski-Hartley loves her work - and it loves her.

CFL post doc, Steph Januchowski-Hartley loves her work – and it loves her.

In our own neck of the woods, pike, suckers, sturgeon and more head upstream to spawn each year. But barriers like road culverts and dams can stand in the way. WFMD is hoping to underscore the importance of open rivers for migratory fish and teach people about some of the amazing journeys our finned-friends make for their own survival.

Researchers here at the CFL, especially students and scientists working with our faculty member, Pete McIntyre, are hard at work on things like mapping barriers for Great Lakes migratory fish and tracking and tagging migratory pike.

If you’re in Chicago this weekend, come on out and say hello!

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Experts to Discuss Mining in the Penokee Range at Public Forum, June 5th

Panorama of the Penokee Hills. Photo: Wisconsin Public Television

Panorama of the Penokee Hills. Photo: Wisconsin Public Television



Minocqua, WI – A final decision won’t be made for years but, already, the proposal to build an open-pit iron mine in Iron and Ashland counties has created a stir in Wisconsin. Politicians have updated state laws. Protesters are camped out in the Northwoods. Claims are being made about both economic promise and environmental peril. In the midst of the loud debate, it can be difficult to determine what qualifies as sound information.

On Thursday, June 5th, at 6:30pm, a panel of scientists, engineers and regulators will gather at the Campanile Center for the Arts in Minocqua to speak to the public and bring context to the issue of mining in the Penokee Range. In a series of short presentations, followed by a moderated question and answer session, attendees can expect to hear a comprehensive, value-neutral, scientifically based discussion. Continue reading

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