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.

Continue reading

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

Field Samples: Snorkleing in Thailand

Welcome to our new “Field Samples” series. We conduct so much cool research at the CFL, that it’s hard to keep track. So, each week, we’ll do a Q&A with a faculty member, post doc, or grad student and ask what they’ve been up to, where it’s taken them, and what they’ve learned. Today, Aaron Koning tells us about his research in Thailand.

Overharvest has depleted fish stocks in many river stretches, but in community-based protected zones fish like the Neolissochilus and Bangana species pictured here are found in abundance. Photo: A. Koning

Overharvest has depleted fish stocks in many river stretches, but in community-based protected zones fish like the Neolissochilus and Bangana species pictured here are found in abundance. Photo: A. Koning

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

Aaron Koning

Aaron Koning

My name is Aaron Koning, I’m a 4th year PhD Student with Peter McIntyre. I am from Grand Rapids, MI, but came to CFL by route of northern Thailand. I was living and working for a study abroad program for 4 years prior to coming to Madison.

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

My work is exploring two different stories. The first story asks the question of how changing land use practices, especially agriculture, are affecting aquatic ecosystems in Thailand.The second asks if freshwater protected areas I encountered in the field can be effective at conserving freshwater fish biodiversity.

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

Aaron Koning collects water samples on Thailand's Yuam River

Aaron Koning collects water samples on Thailand’s Yuam River

For millennia, people in modern-day Thailand largely grew rice in paddy fields and a variety of crops in upland areas. Today, as markets have changed, there is an increasing push to expand agricultural land and to grow more nutrient-demainding crops like corn. I set out to see if recent land use change and changes in agricultural practices might be having an effect on the limitation state of algae, or alternatively, if the level of nutrients in Thai rivers were limiting algal accumulation. I used field experiments, measured water chemistry, and analyzed land cover data for my study regions to relate how different land use might have different effects on algal growth.

I also did fish surveys to see if the small, often community managed protected areas, or “no fishing” zones, I encountered were successful at protecting many of the regions fish species. Continue reading

Field Samples: Exploring Antarctic Lakes

Welcome to our new recurring blog feature – Field Samples. We’ve got so much cool research going on at the Center for Limnology, that it’s hard to keep track. So, each week, we’ll do a Q&A with a faculty member, post doc or grad student and see what they’ve been up to, where it’s taken them, and what they’ve learned. New CFL post doc, Hilary Dugan, is leading off – answering a few questions about her work in Antarctica.

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

Hilary Dugan.

Hilary Dugan.

I’m Hilary Dugan, a postdoc at the CFL. I came to Madison via Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario and the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

Pretend we just boarded an elevator and you only have one-minute to tell me what you’ve been working on….3,2,1 go!

Basically, I’m interested in talking about why limnologists should be interested in Antarctic lakes. Lakes in polar environments push the boundaries of how aquatic systems function and force us to think differently about ecosystem processes. Standard limnological theories/methods don’t always apply to permanently frozen lakes! Continue reading

Fish Fry Day Video: The Salmon Cannon

If you go around the Twitter-verse hashtagging things like #salmoncannon (thanks @USFWSColeman!), chances are we’re going to notice here at the blog. So, without further ado, a mesmerizing video of the latest in safe, yet awesome, “fish transport systems.”

This sucker shoots salmon up to 22 miles per hour! The projectiles, I mean, amazing migratory fish, then splash down in a holding tank, ready to be carried up and over the dam that was blocking their attempts to head up stream to spawn.

You can read more about the project and this great new technology right here – go on, check it out, I’ll be here, dreaming of a day when, instead of fighting the current and laboring up fish ladders, salmon hop on the “Salmon Cannon” express and get shot up and out to higher reaches of a river!

Originally from a post by David Kirby at Takepart.com. Video courtesy of Whooshh (no, really) Innovations.

 

 

Invasive Spiny Water Flea Found in Trout Lake

New Invasive Species Confirmed in Trout Lake, Vilas County

BOULDER JUNCTION, WI – The aquatic invasive species known as spiny water flea has been confirmed in Trout Lake in Vilas County.

On September 22, 2014 a local fisherman noticed what he suspected were spiny water fleas attached to his gear. He collected specimens and contacted Carol Warden, an Aquatic Invasive Species Specialist at Trout Lake Station, the research lab of the UW-Madison’s Center for Limnology.

Carol Warden collecting plankton samples in a northern Wisconsin lake.

Carol Warden collecting plankton samples in a northern Wisconsin lake.

On September 23rd, UW Trout Lake researchers confirmed the invasion, pulling samples full of spiny water fleas (Bythotrephes longimanus) out of Trout Lake.

In Wisconsin, the spiny water flea is classified as a “prohibited invasive species,” meaning it is unlawful to transport, possess, transfer, or introduce it within the state. By attaching to boater and angler gear such as fishing lines, downriggers, anchor ropes, and nets, spiny water fleas can spread to new bodies of water. They can also be transported in bilge water, bait buckets, or live wells.

But individual adults are not the biggest concern, says Jake Vander Zanden, a professor at the UW-Madison Center for Limnology. Continue reading

The Tables Turned: Fish Eat Mammals More Often Than You Think

The following is from The Nature Conservancy’s “Cool Green Science” blog on a study co-led by new CFL post-doc, Peter Lisi.

A rainbow trout from Togiak National Wildlife Refuge with 20 shrews in its stomach. This is not as isolated an incident as many believe. Photo courtesy U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

A rainbow trout from Togiak National Wildlife Refuge with 20 shrews in its stomach. This is not as isolated an incident as many believe. Photo courtesy U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

By Matt Miller, senior science writer, TNC — A shrew, hunting insects along a stream bank, slips into the icy water. It swims frantically to reach shore, using all its energy to stay afloat.

Just as it appears the small critter might make it, an almost imperceptible ripple appears. And then the water explodes. The surface soon calms, but the shrew is gone. Trout food.

Variations on this theme are favorites in fishing lore, and there are plenty of photos that prove this does actually occur.

But how frequently?

A new article appearing in the journal Ecology of Freshwater Fish suggests this answer: more often than you think.

The paper – by coauthors Peter Lisi, Kale Bentley, Jonathan Armstrong and Daniel Schindler – documents the incidence of rainbow trout and grayling over a 13-year period in the Wood River basin, part of the Bristol Bay watershed in Alaska. Keep Reading –>