We interrupt this “Fish Fry Day” to bring you breaking news. Or, well, not news, but a timely example of the challenges urban water bodies like Madison’s lakes face on a daily basis.
On his way in to work this rainy morning, CFL graduate student (and “David Buoy‘s handler”), Luke WInslow, snapped a few pictures of runoff from the Memorial Union construction as it headed downhill and ended up in the choppy Lake Mendota waters, creating a sediment plume along the shoreline.
Runoff from the Memorial Union construction project enters Lake Mendota after a rainy Friday morning. Photo: Luke Winslow
A trip out sampling on Lake Mendota this morning yielded a robust catch of the zooplankton (tiny animal), Daphnia, a miniscule, yet voracious crustacean that goes to town on phytoplankton (tiny plant) populations that are blooming throughout the upper reaches of the water column.
Eventually we’ll see so many Daphnia eating so many tiny green phytoplankton, that the waters will become crystal clear. This fleeting “clear water” phase will only last until the surface waters warm and send Daphnia down below hunting for cooler waters. Then the opposite of “clear water” will occur as blue green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms that we know all too well on Mendota take over. Unfortunately, these are just as unpalatable to any grazers in the lake as they are to those of us watching the green scums from the shore…
The sampling was part of the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network’s “Spring Blitz,” an unprecedented limnological effort to simultaneously monitor spring transitions on lakes around the globe. More to come on that next week. Stay tuned!
The CFL’s Cayelan Carey and Paul Hanson take measurements on Lake Mendota as part of the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network’s “Spring Blitz” monitoring project.
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 →
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!
Early season boaters on Lake Mendota may have noticed a familiar sight out on the water this spring – a bright yellow beacon, bobbing right above the lake’s deepest point.
David Buoy ready to record measurements on Lake Mendota for the 2013 season. Photo: Luke Winslow
Meet “David Buoy,” the tireless floating scientific instrument that has plumbed the depths of our fair lake for five years. Luke Winslow, a graduate student in the Hanson Lab at the Center for Limnology, has been with the buoy since the beginning. Starting the project as an undergrad, Luke has helped fine-tune the instruments collecting data, dealt with random acts of vandalism, and monitored conditions in Mendota. The data collected by the buoy (some available online in real-time) will help researchers here at the CFL better understand what drives the health of Lake Mendota and how human activities affect its waters.
For example, using data in part collected by the buoy on water temperature and plankton communities, scientists at the CFL can now predict in the spring what harmful algal blooms are likely to be like in the summer.
Luke Winslow works to get “David Buoy” installed for a field season. Photo: Ted Bier
Winslow recently worked with a team of divers and researchers to get David Buoy out onto the lake for 2013. He sent in this write up below: Continue reading →
The WDNR Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Research team (Kelly Wagner, Michelle Nault, Ali Mikulyuk, and Martha Barton) with their awards. Photo: Ali Miklulyuk
Earlier this month, CFL graduate student and Wisconsin DNR research scientist, Alison (Ali) Mikulyuk received the 2013 Wisconsin Lake Stewardship Award along with her colleagues Martha Barton, Michelle Nault, & Kelly Wagner for their work with the WDNR‘s Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Research department. (In Wisconsin Lake circles, they’re affectionately known as the “Plant Divas.”)
Ali at work in a parsnip field. Photo courtesy: Ali Mikulyuk
We prefer the term “award winners” since it’s a known fact that we love to brag on our students at the CFL and think they’re pretty much going to save freshwater as we know it. Ali, however asked if we could instead point the spotlight on the long and storied history of other women in limnology.
We were more than happy to oblige – especially since there is such an awesome roster of amazing scientists to choose from. Ali wrote up the following three blurbs. We know it’s slanted toward dead American scientists and not at all comprehensive, but it’s a cool list nonetheless. We are more than happy to hear suggestions of other (preferably even living!) notable women limnologists, ecologists, hydrologists, etc. in the comments section! 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!
Yesterday, we gathered at the upstairs windows here in the office and watched as spring thunderstorms blew in across Lake Medota and set a giant slab of ice drifting past Hasler Lab. The sheet of ice appeared to be roughly a quarter the size of the lake itself. If was truly astonishing, like observing some sped up demonstration of plate tectonics. Unfortunately, no recorded (usable) visual evidence survived.
Last night’s storms, however, blew in with a vengeance just as ice was coming off and breaking up into tiny floes. This morning we were greeted with the aftermath:
“Wind + loose ice = scenically situated bench’s worst nightmare,” wrote CFL grad student, Jake Walsh.
“Steve Carpenter says he can’t remember this type of ice since the 1980′s,” reports Denise Karns. “In my decade here, I don’t remember it sharding like this.”
Ice get’s too close for comfort for a lakeshore path bench.
Indeed, it was an impressive display. Just another reminder that, in Wisconsin, winter often takes the long goodbye – and a few scenic benches with it.