Fish Fry Day Video: Why Suckers Can’t Go Home Again

You can’t go home again. While the sentiment means something a bit more figurative to those of us traveling for the Holidays, for Great Lakes fishes the statement is all too literal. In fact, there are more than 275,000 reasons a fish might not make it “home.”

This amazing animation is from our new Fish On The Run website and was produced by Ellen Hamann. We look forward to more great content about our Great Lakes fishes in 2015, and hope to tell not just the story of an unlucky white sucker, but also how CFL researchers are helping get fish moving again.

Happy Holidays, everybody!

 

 

Fish Fry Day Redux: Up All Night to Get Musky

The Center for Limnology‘s Holiday Party is tonight. It is also Fish Fry Day. This means an early Christmas present to you, our readers! Last year, our house band Phantom Midge emerged with a rockin’ set of songs. Enjoy this gift from the ghost of Christmas past!

Field Samples: Exploring the Aquatic Microbiome

Welcome to our weekly Q&A asking researchers what they’ve been up to and what they’ve learned. Today, Mike Braus, a graduate student at the UW-Madison’s Nelson Institute talks about lakes, rivers, climate change, and the tiny little microbes running the show.
Who are you, where are you from, and how did you get here?
Mike Braus takes a ride on a sculpture of micrasterias.

Mike Braus takes a ride on a sculpture of Micrasterias.

I was born and raised in Madison, but I spent a few years in my college years on the west coast and a semester abroad in Costa Rica, where I specialized in tropical ecology as part of my BA in Zoology from the UW-Madison. After graduating, I did an internship on Fire Island on the Long Island Sound with the Student Conservation Assocation, and later I discovered the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies in my hometown. Surprised and delighted, I applied, got in, and got to know the people in botany, zoology, limnology, bacteriology, and history of science, settling into the interdisciplinary sort of work the Nelson Institute is known for.

Pretend we just boarded an elevator and you only have a one-minute ride to tell me about your work….3, 2, 1, go!

I study aquatic microbes that live on green filamentous algae in lakes and rivers, and these lakes and rivers are known for emitting greenhouse gases. We all know that a lot of microbes live on our bodies, in the soil, and in the water. What if those tiny microbes in the water collectively do more than we know to deal with enormous problems for us like climate change? Where and how do they thrive, and how can we study them when they’re so darn small and look so darn similar to one another? I want to make useful emerging molecular techniques and computational resources more widely available to researchers (especially limnologists and climate scientists) whose projects involve microbes, whether or not they realize it.

What question did you ask and answer or do you hope to answer? What other questions might your work lead scientists to ask?

How does the diversity and function of algal microbial associates changer over a growth season? My work should lead scientists to question whether algae are just a nuisance (it’s quite the opposite in fact) and how they and their microbial associates could be important to maintaining the conditions that make life possible on Earth.

cladophora400x

The alga Cladophora under the microscope.

Not to sound harsh, but why should someone NOT in the field of freshwater sciences care about your work? What’s a bigger picture implication?

Continue reading

When Will Lake Mendota Freeze?

Tundra swans congregate on the ice edge in the middle of Lake Mendota, December 30, 2012. Photo: Steve Carpenter

Tundra swans congregate on the ice edge in the middle of Lake Mendota, December 30, 2012. Photo: Steve Carpenter

Last week, John Magnuson, director emeritus of the Center for Limnology, spoke at our weekly Wednesday seminar about lake ice trends in our warming world. In short, the onset and duration of lake ice cover in the northern hemisphere looks a lot like the infamous “hockey stick” showing the average rise in global temperature, except the lake ice trend is heading in reverse.

We are losing 1.8 days of ice cover every decade.

It may not sound like much, but it means that, one hundred years ago, anyone who loved to skate, ski, ice fish or (yes) sail on our frozen lakes had, on average, a full month longer to enjoy those pursuits.

In 1896, these ice boat captains had, on average, a full month longer to sail Mendota’s frozen seas. Image: Wisconsin Historical Society

So what’s that mean this year? With local organizations holding their annual “ice on pools,” can we hazard a guess as to when Lake Mendota might freeze? Well, yes, but not much of one. We can look at the ten-day forecast and see that a freeze isn’t likely by mid-December. (For reference, Lake Mendota went “ice-on” on December 16th last year). And climate scientists are predicting an El Nino event is likely this winter. Historically, says Magnuson, winters featuring an El Nino have shorter ice-cover durations. Continue reading

Fish Fry Day: Announcing New Website – Fish on the Run

Happy Fish Fry Day folks! Before you tune out for the rest of the day and dream of delicious fried fillets of your favorite fish, we’d like to introduce you to a brand-new website all about the incredible journeys many fish make to feed and breed and survive.

Screen shot 2014-12-04 at 2.36.37 PMCalled “Fish On the Run,” the site will chronicle the fieldwork, scientific studies and computer modeling going on in Peter McIntyre’s research group here at the Center for Limnology. While much of the focus will be on the migratory fishes of the Great Lakes, folks in McIntyre’s group also explore fish as far afield as Tanzania and Thailand.

http://fishontherun.weebly.com/uploads/2/5/1/4/25146649/9713269_orig.jpgSo spend a few minutes checking out the new site and let us know what you think. We’ll be updating it regularly, so look for more cool videos, engrossing stories, scientific journal articles, and awesome underwater photography to come! Check it out! – Fish On The Run.

Fish Fry Day: Great Lakes Fisheries

Happy Fish Fry Day! This week, we’re bringing you an excellent roundtable discussion about Great Lakes fisheries via the program, “Great Lakes Now Connect.” If you’ve ever wondered about the past, present or future of fish in the Great Lakes, this is a good start!

In the video, our post doc, Solomon David (who spends his time working at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium) discusses Great Lakes fishes and the promises and challenges facing its fisheries with folks from the United States Geological Survey, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and The Nature Conservancy.  Enjoy!

Spotted Gar DPTV Promo 1a

Field Samples: Studying the World’s Oldest and Deepest Lake

 Welcome to our weekly Q&A asking researchers what they’ve been up to and what they’ve learned. Today, special guest, Stephanie Hampton, talks about working in Siberia on the world’s oldest and deepest lake. Hampton is the CFL’s fall Kaeser Scholar.
Lake Baikal in Siberia is the world's oldest, deepest and most biodiverse lake. Photo: Peter, Flickr Creative Commons

Lake Baikal in Siberia is the world’s oldest, deepest and most biodiverse lake. Photo: Peter, Flickr Creative Commons

Who are you, where are you from, and how did you get there?

 Hampton: I’m Stephanie Hampton – I’m a freshwater biologist, working at Washington State University. When I was at University of Kansas as an undergrad, I took an oceanography class. I loved it and asked the professor for more marine science classes. He reminded me that we were in Kansas (just a little landlocked) and… well, he suggested that I might try Limnology. Which I also loved, and followed my new–found interests in plankton and math over the years.

Pretend we just boarded an elevator and you only have a one-minute ride to tell me about your work, can you capture it a few sentences?

Hampton: I work with a bunch of wonderful Russian and American scientists on the world’s oldest and deepest lake – Lake Baikal in Siberia. It’s been a really cold place for millions of years, with more biodiversity than any other lake, and lots of the organisms have evolved to live well in the cold. We’re studying how they have responded over the past 60 years as this region of the world grows warmer, quickly.

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Fish Fry Day: Fish on the Move

Solomon David spoke at the CFL last week about the November migrations of the Great Lakes populations of whitefish. We started thinking about ways to spread the message that keeping fish “on the move” is crucial to their survival. Here’s an animated attempt:

Let us know what you think in the comments. This was a “free trial” version, but if you’d like to see us explore more aquatic topics in the same manner, perhaps we should get a VideoScribe account? Regardless, we’ll soon start a running series on work on fish migrations being done by Pete McIntyre’s group – a bunch of talented students and faculty here at the CFL!

Oh, and Happy Fish Fry Day! The day when Wisconsin puts delicious fish on the menu and we put awesome fish facts on the blog!

Fish Fry Day: Ancient Fish, Windy City

Spotted gar found for first time in the North Shore Channel CAWS, with IDNR fisheries biologist Frank Jakubicek. Photo courtesy of: IDNR

Spotted gar found for first time in the North Shore Channel CAWS, with IDNR fisheries biologist Frank Jakubicek.
Photo courtesy of: IDNR

Last month, Illinois Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologists on a routine patrol of the North Shore Channel, a straight as an arrow, concrete-lined tributary of the Chicago River, made a surprising find. They gave the water a jolt with their electrofishing equipment and, there, north of downtown Chicago and right downstream from a Red Lobster and Olive Garden, a spotted gar rose to the surface.

The scientists quickly weighed and measured the fish, took a snapshot and then released it back into the water. But it was enough documentation to ensure that news of the discovery spread.

Map of the section of the North Shore Channel, in the Lincolnwood neighborhood of north Chicago, where the spotted gar was found.

The straight, dark line to the left is the North Shore Channel in the Lincolnwood neighborhood of north Chicago, where the spotted gar was found between Touhy and Pratt.

“Gar-in-the-city” stories landed in outlets like the Chicago Sun Times, CBS Chicago, and even National Geographic. And, of course, it caught the attention of our favorite friend of primitive fishes – Solomon David. (who is quoted in many of those news articles)

David is a post-doctoral researcher with the Center for Limnology, but spends most his time at Chicago’s iconic Shedd Aquarium, in the Daniel P. Haether Center for Conservation and Research, which co-supports his position. We asked David for his thoughts on a spotted gar in an urban waterway. Continue reading

Algae Blooms in Fall Mean Lake Mendota Is Mixed Up

A mid-October algae bloom shows up on the Lake Mendota shoreline. Photo: Sam Oliver

A mid-October algae bloom shows up on the Lake Mendota shoreline. Photo: Sam Oliver

Earlier this month, anyone down on the shores of Madison’s lakes may have noticed the water tinged the green hue of an algae bloom, something we normally associate with the warmer summer months. But a final fall bloom isn’t all that unusual – It just means that the lakes are, literally, all mixed up.

During the summer our lakes stratify, meaning that a warm upper layer of water forms and settles on top of the denser, colder water below. Throughout this period, only that upper warm layer of water, or epilimnion, gets mixed up, bringing anything floating at the bottom of the layer to the surface and sending things at the top down. But nutrients that fall into the lower, colder layer of water, the hypolimnion, are trapped and begin to build up over time.

When the weather (and the lake) begins to cool, the lake enters a phase called “turnover.” During turnover, the epilimnion cools off, grows denser and pushes into the hypolimnion, shrinking that cold, bottom layer and bringing whatever is in it back into the mixing cycle.

AN illustration of seasonal lake mixing and stratification. Image: National Geographic

AN illustration of seasonal lake mixing and stratification. Image: National Geographic

Eventually this upper layer cools to the temperature of the bottom layer and the entire lake mixes, bringing an upwelling of nutrients stored since late spring. And these nutrients act like a fertilizer, promoting the growth of anything green. Continue reading