Here we are again – at the end of a long work week and looking forward to all things fried on Wisconsin menus. That’s right, it’s the day of our great state’s world-famous fish fries and that means it’s “Fish Fry Day” here on the blog.
Today’s special – rainbow smelt.
Rainbow smelt (osmerus mordax) Photo: New York DEC
How did these small, but voracious, fish get to Wisconsin? Well, like many invasive species, they first moved into the Great Lakes. In fact, according to the Minnesota Sea Grant, “it is generally accepted that the Great Lakes population of rainbow smelt resulted from their being stocked into Crystal Lake, Michigan, in 1912.” Why would people throw smelt into a lake, you may ask? Continue reading →
Over the last several years, state agencies and environmental non-profit organizations have targeted dam removal as a way to quickly improve the health of aquatic ecosystems. Dams keep migratory fish from swimming upriver to spawn, block nutrients from flowing downstream, and change the entire hydrology of a watershed. From an ecosystem perspective, taking down a dam and returning a river to a more natural flow seems like a no-brainer.
Dam removal projects are costly and time-consuming. They may also be only part of the solution. Photo: Michigan Department of Natural Resources
But a new study says that most dam removal efforts are missing an important part of the picture – you can’t talk about river restoration without also talking about roads.
In the study, published in the May issue of the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, a team of researchers mapped out every obstacle, from large hydroelectric dams to tiny road culverts, in the entire Great Lakes drainage basin. What these maps show is that, while there are more than 7,000 dams on the rivers, creeks and streams flowing into the Great Lakes, there are 38 times that number of road crossings. Or 268,818, to be precise. Continue reading →
Well, we’ve once again made it to the day when fried fish dominates Wisconsin menus, which means it’s Fish Fry Day on the blog!
Every spring, fish all over the world feel the warming waters and head upstream to spawn. And every spring, millions of fish run into one insurmountable obstacle to their inner drive – dams.
A muskellunge tries to clear the Wingra Creek Dam in Madison, WI. Photo: Brenda Pracheil
Here in Madison, the Wingra Creek Dam is a good place to spot big muskies trying to leap their way into Lake Wingra. They’re not exactly champion jumpers of the fish world, but it’s still a cool display. Luckily for them (and folks who like to fish for them) other muskies have better luck in more accessible tributaries. This year’s run has wound down, but we’ve got some good shots to tide you over until next year.
Last Friday, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist, Kurt Welke, poured more than a quarter of a million fish into our boat slip here at Hasler Lab.
Kurt Welke, WDNR fisheries biologist, dips a jar of water (and walleye) out of the Hasler Lab boat slip. Photo: Denise Karns
Welke was headed to Lake Mendota with precious cargo – 300,000 young walleye fry. Part of the WDNR’s annual fish stocking in the Madison lakes, the little fish were to be released into the lake in hopes that a number of them would survive to a nice, fat, happy adulthood of being both an apex predator and a tasty dinner for area fishermen.
These walleye, and roughly 299,000 others spent a calm weekend in the Hasler Lab boat slip. Photo: Denise Karns
The problem was, last Friday was no day to be pouring helpless fry into the lake. A northern wind had waves pounding the shoreline, making it impossible for them to get to the near-shore cobble, the area the small fish would first use to hide out from predators.
The same waves pounding the boat slip door, were making the walleye’s preferred habitat unsuitable for stocking last Friday. Photo: Denise Karns
Welke had an idea. The same rough water that made the lake a dicey proposition for the fish meant that no one here at the lake was taking our boats out either. And that meant that, safe behind the wave-pounded boat slip door, there was a small refuge of calm water. Welke decided to let the fish get acclimated to Lake Mendota for the weekend by hanging out in our boat slip.
On Monday, LTER research specialist, Ted Bier, and CFL post-doc, Jereme Gaeta, were on hand with your trusty blog author for the release.
CFL postdoc, Jereme Gaeta, watches as Ted Bier raises the boat slip door and walleye fry begin streaming out. Photo: Adam Hinterthuer
It was a flat-water, picture-perfect day and, the moment the boat slip door cleared the water, 300,000 little walleye knew exactly what to do and streamed out into the lake.
Perhaps several years from now, these fisherman will pull one of “our” walleye out of the waters of Lake Mendota. Photo: Adam Hinterthuer
We were happy we could help them weather the storm and wish them smooth sailing and rapid growth in the future!
It’s that time of week again. Time for fried fishes of all sorts to pop up on Wisconsin menus and time for us here at the blog to feature a new fish for “Fish Fry Day.” Today’s species comes courtesy of Center for Limnology post doc, Brenda Pracheil – the longnose gar.
Longnose gar. Photo courtesy: New York DNR
According to Brenda, many folks view the longnose gar as a “trash fish” that preys on more desirable sport fish species. “But,” she counters, “longnose are native predators and among the most primitive of the fishes in the Mississippi Basin.” Continue reading →
Aaron Koning collects water samples on Thailand’s Yuam River
While a lot of what we do at the Center for Limnology is all about Wisconsin waters, we’ve got some world-class research going on all over the world, from places like Tanzania and Thailland. Aaron Koning, a grad student in Pete McIntyre’s lab, is working on understanding the fish communities in both the Chao Phraya and the Mekong rivers in Thailand. Both of these major rivers support important, but threatened, fisheries.
Aaron recently wrote in with this dispatch from the banks of the Yom River, a tributary of the Chao Phraya:
Following Pete [McIntyre]’s return to the U.S., I set off to repeat the fish community collection and nutrient limitation experiments that we had conducted previously in the Salween River basin. While I had intended on conducting this second round of work on a Mekong River tributary, the site at which I had access turned out to be less than ideal.
Already set back a week due to illness, I decided to return to a community that I knew well in central Thailand on a tributary of the Chao Phraya river, rather than seeking out a new site and trying to rush introductions to a new community of people. Continue reading →
Oele and Brooks record data on a pike taken from one of their nets. Photo: Adam Hinterthuer
Last spring, we featured UW grad student, Dan Oele’s work on northern pike in Green Bay. Dan was trying to answer the question, “Do pike return to the waters where they first emerged from eggs to spawn, or will any suitable stream do?”
Now, it appears he has an answer. And his results are good news for conservation efforts.
The Nature Conservancy’s “Cool Green Science” blog has more:
Research Results: If You Restore It, Will Pike Come?
by: Matt Miller, The Nature Conservancy
It’s well known that some migratory fish species, like salmon, are able to trace their way back to the stream where they were born. However, conservationists have no idea if this is the case for hundreds of other fish species.
Do pike return to spawn in the streams where they were born, a la salmon?
Not necessarily, at least in the Green Bay watershed. If there’s suitable habitat, pike will find it and spawn. That’s the central finding of research conducted by the University of Wisconsin’s Pete McIntyre and Dan Oele.
Forgive the late post here, but your trusty blog author has been out and about in the Rocky Mountain front range for the past few days. But, never fear, it’s still Friday here in the Mountain Standard Time Zone and that means it’s still the day that Wisconsin offers up its fabulous fish fry dinners and we here at the blog celebrate some of our favorite fishes.
Since it’s spring (it IS spring back home, right?) and that means fish are getting ready for spawning season, we thought we’d share this video from several years ago when our very own research technician, Ted Bier, took an underwater camera down in the depths of Lake Monona and met a couple of its resident lake sturgeon. Enjoy!
This tiny paddlefish needs a large river to grow up big and strong – in some cases, upwards of 100 pounds. Photo: Brenda Pracheil
Large-river specialist fishes—from giant species like paddlefish and blue catfish, to tiny crystal darters and silver chub – are in danger.
According to a new study, in the U.S. 60 out of 68 species, or 88% of fish species found exclusively in large-river ecosystems like the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio rivers, are of state, federal or international conservation concern. The report is in the April issue of the journal, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment and was authored by Center for Limnology postdoctoral researcher, Brenda Pracheil, faculty member, Pete McIntyre, and Wisconsin DNR fish biologist, John Lyons (also a CFL alumnus).
What makes the findings especially worrying, is that conservation opportunities in America’s largest rivers are scarce. Continue reading →
Well, it’s that time of the week again. The day in Wisconsin offers up its fabulous fish fry dinners and the day here at the blog where we celebrate some of our favorite fishes. If you missed the first installment of “Fish Fry Day,” you can learn more about that beautiful panfish, the pumpkinseed, by reading this blog post. Today, though, we’re featuring a fish with a bigger, well, bite. Ladies and gentlemen – the northern pike.
CFL grad student, Zack Lawson pulled this impressive pike out of Lake Mendota this winter right outside the doors of Hasler Lab. Photo: Dane Oele
This time last year, the blog was up in Green Bay with CFL grad student, Dan Oele, trying to catch some of these beautiful and popular sport fish on their annual spring spawning runs. Thanks to crazy warm weather in March, though, most pike had already headed back out to the bay before we arrived. Luckily, we did find one slow-moving specimen. Continue reading →