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 –>

 

The Air/Water Connection: Lakes Crucial to Songbird Survival

by Meredith Smalley

TROUT LAKE STATION — While most projects at the University of Wisconsin’s Trout Lake Station put their boats into lakes to perform research, one project team heads into the forests surrounding lakes for their data collection.

Paul Schilke, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is looking at how aquatic insects that emerge out of lakes impact populations of birds that breed in the surrounding forests. Research finds that many of the birds that eat flying insects have declined in recent years and lakes may be a key food source for these species.

With the help of undergraduate field technicians Cody Lane and Sammie Buechner, Schilke is supervised by Dr. Anna Pidgeon, assistant professor of forest and wildlife ecology at UW-Madison. Dr. Pidgeon made a visit to help catch and band birds, a process that requires a special license. The crew went into the forest surrounding Allequash Lake in Boulder Junction to assemble the long, tall nets that are well-camouflaged for catching birds.

Within an hour of setting the first round of nets, two birds were captured: a least flycatcher and a yellow-rumped warbler. Clipping a piece of feather from each bird allows for later examination of the birds’ diets. The birds are then banded and released unharmed.

As the nets are used over the course of several days, bird crew ends their session by folding up the nets to avoid trapping other animals.

All video and text by Meredith Smalley, a UW-Madison School of Journalism undergraduate serving as Trout Lake Station’s summer outreach intern this field season.

A River Sometimes Rushes, Sometimes Meanders Through It


Last Wednesday, your trusty blogger accompanied Center for Limnology post doc, Peter Levi, as he headed to Milwaukee for his research on what is, frankly, an under-served ecosystem in limnological circles – the urban river.

Peter Levi takes samples from the field. And the city. Here he is sampling Underwood Creek, as recently restored tributary of the Kinnickinnic River.

Peter Levi takes samples from the field. And the city. Here he is sampling Underwood Creek, as recently restored tributary of the Menomonee River.

Most metropolitan areas have a sordid history with their rivers. The waterways that first made them appealing for settlement, soon made them indispensable to industry, as turn of the century (and some much more recent) developments like paper mills, steel plants and feed lots used the rivers as a convenient way to flush waste downstream. As a result, many cities turned their back on their rivers and the prime real estate migrated far from their banks.

Straight as far as the eye can see. This channelized section of the Kinnickinnic River contributes to flooding issues downstream.

Straight as far as the eye can see. This channelized section of the Kinnickinnic River contributes to flooding issues downstream.

In many cases, cities also “improved” rivers by straightening their course and “channelizing,” or lining the river in concrete. They become little more than straight-as-an-arrow throughways designed to get water out of town.

The problem, as the city of Milwaukee discovered, is that, when you have all of the impervious surface of a city, combined with a massive rain event and nothing but concrete channels, well, rivers rise fast, resulting in dangerous floods. Milwaukee realized that letting a river wander actually slowed the flow of water and let downstream areas drain before a new wave of stormwater came pouring in. So the city, primarily the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD), reversed course and put the bend back in its rivers. Nowhere is the effect as dramatic as on the Kinnickinnic. Continue reading

Dishing Out Science (and Ice Cream) at Trout Lake Station Open House

by Meredith Smalley

Visitors check out stations under the watchful eyes of Bucky at the Trout Lake open house.

Visitors check out stations under the watchful eyes of Bucky at the Trout Lake open house.

BOULDER JUNCTION, Wis. — The first of August was a gorgeous day in northern Wisconsin: temperatures were in the mid-70s, the waters of Trout Lake were remarkably calm and clear, and the mosquitoes, for the first time this summer, were nowhere to be found.

It was the perfect day for Trout Lake Station‘s 4th annual open house. The Northwoods outpost of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Limnology (CFL) welcomed its neighbors for a day dedicated to learning more about its research. During the afternoon, more than 300 visitors stopped by for boat rides, hands-on science, lake-themed crafts and, all the way from the Madison campus dairy plant, free Babcock ice cream. (Click below for slideshow)

 

“The main goal of the open house is to invite the community in and discuss what we’re doing,” says UW Trout Lake Station Director Tim Kratz. “By opening our doors to our neighbors, we’re able to both interact with a large number of community members and also provide our students with the opportunity to share their research with the public in a way they would never experience in the classroom.” (Continue reading -->)

Toxic Algae, Drinking Water and Why Madison Won’t Be Toledo

In case you missed the news the last couple of days, around 400,000 residents of the city of Toledo, Ohio were advised to completely avoid the city’s drinking water thanks to a bloom of a cyanobacteria (often called blue-green algae) called microcystis. The bloom occurred in Lake Erie, where Toledo gets its water supply. Microcystis produces a toxin called microcystin, which is a neurotoxin that can be harmful, or even fatal.

An algae bloom in Lake Erie is capture via satellite photo. Toledo sits on the far western shore of the lake. Photo: NOAA

An algae bloom in Lake Erie is capture via satellite photo. Toledo sits on the far western shore of the lake. Photo: NOAA

Earlier today, water tests came back negative for the toxin, and the city lifted its drinking water advisory, but it left folks all over the country wondering if such a scenario is possible where they live. We even fielded a few questions about it here at the Center for Limnology. So, could Madison ever experience something like the Toledo scare? CFL director, Steve Carpenter, answers a few pressing questions: Continue reading

Mud Masks from 22 Feet Underground

Undergraduate Willis Perley donning a mud mask after a peat sampling demonstration

Undergraduate Willis Perley donning a mud mask after a peat sampling demonstration at weekly seminar

by Meredith Smalley

Here at Trout Lake Station, the bog walk is a revered and cherished opportunity. Any chance to tromp around in our boots is a welcome break from the bogged-down schedule of daily routine.

Beginning with a jaunt to Crystal Bog, I tagged along with a group of graduate students from UW-Madison as they followed professor emeritus in soil science, Fred Madison, into the field.

Holding part of the peat sample at Crystal Bog, with Tim Kratz, Fred Madison and his graduate students

Holding part of the peat sample at Crystal Bog, with Tim Kratz, Fred Madison and his graduate students

Madison has taught this three-week summer course since the 1980’s, and says he doesn’t mind that the university can’t find anyone to take his place teaching the intensive, hands-on course. As part of his journey throughout northern Wisconsin, Madison brings his students to Crystal Bog for a peat sampling demonstration with Tim Kratz, director of UW Trout Lake Station. Continue reading