Our Next ‘Science on Tap’ Could Change Your Life: May 4th

By now you’ve heard all about our amazing science cafe series, Science on Tap-Minocqua, at the Minocqua Brewing Company on the first Wednesday of each month.

UW-Madison microbiologist, Monica Turner answers questions about the "microbes all around us." Photo: A. Hinterthuer
UW-Madison microbiologist, Trina McMahon answers questions about the “microbes all around us.” Photo: A. Hinterthuer

In addition to the big crowds and good beer, the event is a chance to take part in a discussion and ask questions about some awesome, enlightening topics. In just the past few months, we’ve heard about the creation and conservation of our national parks, the wonderful world of Wisconsin fishes and the microbes all around us.

But, next Wednesday, May 4th, we’ll offer something a little different – something that’s not just good for the mind, but the body and soul as well.

Robert McGrath, director of counseling and consultation at University Health Services. ©UW-Madison University Communications Photo by: Bryce Richter
Robert McGrath.
©UW-Madison University Communications
Photo: Bryce Richter

Dr. Robert McGrath, a UW-Madison distinguished psychologist emeritus and former coordinator of UW Mind-Body Wellness Services will give a talk titled “Thriving at any age: guidelines for living a healthy, happy life.”

McGrath will explain an emerging discipline called “positive psychology,” which focuses on how focusing on gratitude and a healthy lifestyle can increase happiness and set us on a path to thrive. Much of the change in one’s happiness is due less to life events, he says, than to “the nature of your primary relationships, your social relationships, your lifestyle and life goals.”

You can join us as we review ten ways to improve your health, happiness and overall well-being. If you’re in or near Minocqua, stop on by the Minocqua Brewing Company for dinner (we can vouch for the wild rice burger!) and then join us for the conversation at 6:30pm. If you’re not in town, you can always watch LIVE online (or at the Minocqua Public Library) and even ask questions from your computer – we promise we’ll pass them along.

And, as always, if you miss the live show, check out our growing video archive – featuring both full-length talks and short 5-10 minute “highlight” videos on the Science on Tap YouTube Channel.

Questions about the event? Call 715-356-9494 or e-mail hinterthuer(at)wisc(dot)edu.

Open House Recap: Ice Cream, Boat Rides & a Thunderstorm

Trout Lake Station’s 5th Annual Open House and Ice Cream Social was humming along Friday, July 31st. With an hour to go, 332 people had toured the station, getting a look at everything from seed traps, to freshwater bryozoans, to this crazy contraption we call FLAMe.

Freshwater bryozoan
Freshwater bryozoan

It was an outstanding day to do a little science communication and outreach in the Northwoods. We’d nearly exhausted our 7 (yes, seven!) tubs of Babcock Dairy ice cream and and we were only 10 visitors away from breaking our all-time attendance record when, well,  the weather rolled in.

StormVisitors dashed for their cars or huddled under our carport to let it blow over, leaving the record intact for at least another year. In the meantime, here’s a slideshow of what it’s like when we open our doors to the public – enjoy!

Trout Lake Station’s 5th Annual Open House!

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.

It’s that time of year again – as July gives way to August, we’re spiffing up our research station and ordering tubs of Babcock ice cream for our annual open house and ice cream social.

If you’ll be in the Minocqua area next Friday, July 31st, come on by between 1-5pm and board a boat, take a tour, create some crafts, stump a scientist and, of course, enjoy free UW-Madison Babcock dairy ice cream.

Still not convinced? Here’s a slideshow of past open houses to show you what you’re missing!

So come join us – Friday, July 31st from 1-5PM. We’re at 3110 Trout Lake Station Drive (off of County Road N, between Hwy 51 and County Road M).

See you there!


Notes from the Northwoods: Can Native Bugs Take Out Invasive Plants?

by AnnaKay Kruger

UW-Madison undergraduate Joe Bevington rakes the bottom of Manson Lake for Eurasian water milfoil. Photo: AnnaKay Kruger
UW-Madison undergraduate Joe Bevington rakes the bottom of Manson Lake for Eurasian water milfoil. Photo: AnnaKay Kruger

Joe Bevington leans over the side of the boat and eyes the dense weeds in the water below us, watching green, long-feathered arms of Eurasian water milfoil move indolently with the current. The UW-Madison undergraduate wields a long rake that he drags along the lake bottom, twirling tendrils of plant matter around it like spaghetti. He and Jim Miazga, a UW-Stevens Point undergrad, amass piles of slimy milfoil in the bottom of the boat. The damp smells of lake sediment and wet foliage permeate the air.

Susan Knight, the scientist directing this research project, mans the oars as we paddle gently around Manson Lake in pursuit of the milfoil weevil, a small, native beetle that is being monitored for it’s efficiency as a biological control. The bug eats native species of milfoil and, Knight hopes, may have an appetite for the invasive variety. Continue reading “Notes from the Northwoods: Can Native Bugs Take Out Invasive Plants?”

Notes from the Northwoods: Wading to Trip

by AnnaKay Kruger

Michaela Kromrey clips herself into her bulky waders, fitting the straps over her shoulders and sealing herself into their protective rubber lining. We’ve dropped anchor near the shore of Jute Lake, and waves whip the side of the boat vigorously in the high wind. It’s a beautiful day, utterly devoid of cloud cover, but the wind is sharp and swift over the water, forcing us to don our sweatshirts and windbreakers to stave off the chill. Michaela and I, both UW-Madison undergraduates, wait in the boat while Ellen Albright, a student at Minnesota’s Macalester College, wades along the shoreline, dragging a tape-measure behind her.

2015-06-05 10.24.58
Ellen and Michaela wade through the shallows of Jute Lake, looking for submerged logs as part of the Regional Lakes Survey. Photo: AnnaKay Kruger

Ellen paces out fifty meters and drops a small orange buoy into the water. Michaela explains that they’re looking for fallen logs, otherwise known as “coarse woody habitat”. Large logs with many branches are the ideal habitat for juvenile fish populations because they provide protection for fingerlings, or fish that are not yet fully developed but have fins and scales, and are capable of feeding themselves. (Editor’s note: CFL research underscored the importance of coarse woody habitat last year).

The prevalence of suitable habitat for fish populations in inland lakes is one of many variables being investigated in the Regional Lakes Survey out of Trout Lake Field Station. This ongoing study will happen every six years and primarily involves analyzing lake conditions for the purpose of mapping changes that occur over time. Continue reading “Notes from the Northwoods: Wading to Trip”

Notes from the Northwoods: Heavy Lifting on Sparkling Lake

by AnnaKay Kruger

“Well, that was an adventure!” says Aaron O’Connell, a UW-Plateville undergraduate, looking down at his bare feet as he steps gingerly across the gravel driveway. In one hand he carries his sodden shoes, and like me, he is covered from head-to-toe in lake grime. We have just spent the last two hours helping Tim Meinke launch a buoy into Sparkling Lake off of Highway 51 in Vilas County.

Ben Kranner and Tim Meinke team up to anchor the buoy to the bottom of Sparkling Lake. Photo: AnnaKay Kruger
Ben Kranner and Tim Meinke team up to anchor the buoy to the bottom of Sparkling Lake. Photo: AnnaKay Kruger

The buoy itself is an impressive device—substantial in girth, equipped with everything from weather antennae to a pressure sensor that records rainfall. A large solar panel hangs on one side, and the whole contraption is strung with a variety of complex wiring that is well beyond my expertise.

(Left to right) Ben Kranner, Tim Meinke, Aaron O’Connell, and Mark Gahler tow the buoy out onto Sparkling Lake. Photo: AnnaKay Kruger
(Left to right) Ben Kranner, Tim Meinke, Aaron O’Connell, and Mark Gahler tow the buoy out onto Sparkling Lake. Photo: AnnaKay Kruger

Meinke, a researcher at the Center for Limnology’s Trout Lake Station, is part of the Long-Term Ecological Research project (LTER) and the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON). Sparkling Lake is one of the LTER and GLEON research lakes, so the buoy will spend the summer collecting data on everything from water temperature to wind speed to the amount of oxygen moving in and out of the lake.  But getting that buoy in the water is no small feat, which is why Meinke enlisted Aaron, Ben Kranner, a UW-Madison undergraduate, and the CFL’s IT consultant, Mark Gahler, to the cause.

While they anchored and wired the buoy, I did my best to stay out of the way and document the experience. This proved more difficult than I had anticipated, as the team hauled in various ropes and weights, gradually filling the boat with lake debris and slime (or, as we call it in scientific circles, “muck”) from the bottom. My chance to contribute to the effort came when we had to retrieve a smaller buoy from just under the surface. It was anchored by sixty pounds worth of barbells, which I hoisted into the boat, a feat that proved challenging despite my enthusiasm. With Aaron’s help, we managed to haul the buoy and weights into the boat. I was grimy and out of breath, but proud to have been of service. Continue reading “Notes from the Northwoods: Heavy Lifting on Sparkling Lake”

Center for Limnology on YouTube

Just in case you didn’t know, the CFL is on YouTube chronicling our adventures both in the field and in the lab. Here’s a new trailer for the WiscLimnology channel that we hope you’ll enjoy!

On the channel, you’ll find playlists with headings like “Fish on the Run,” “Know Your Invasives,” “In the Lab,” and more – all there to keep you up-to-date on the research we conduct in waters right here in Wisconsin and around the world.

Got feedback? Video ideas? Comment here, or send them to hinterthuer (at) wisc.edu.


Top 3 Posts From 2014: Ice, More Ice, and Murky Water

Happy New Year’s Eve!


We here at the Center for Limnology wish you a 2015 filled with opportunities to get out on your favorite lake, river, stream or wetland. As a final post of the year, below are snippets of our top 3 posts from the year. As usual, stories about ice and clear water led the way!

1. Ice is Nice: Three Perks to the Polar Vortex

We get it. It is cold. Face (and mind) numbingly cold. But that’s not an “all bad” thing. There’s a lot to like about a real winter. And it begins with ice. Here are three things to celebrate during the winter that brought “polar vortex” into our vocabulary!

1. Ice Caves

Icicle "stalactites" hang from one of Lake Superior's famed "sea" caves. Photo courtesy: UW Superior

For the first time in 5 years, winter temps have been frigid and consistent enough to form lake ice safe enough to walk out to the caves. This recent blog post from our friends at the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute takes us there, courtesy of Marie Zhuikov’s short entry. Or check out this from Smithsonian.com – full of beautiful pictures. If you live within driving distance of the Apostle Islands, this should really be on your bucket list. Just check the ice conditions first. There’s no quicker way to ruin a hike to the ice caves than turning it into a swim! Continue reading

2. Thickest Lake Ice in Decades May Last Into Spring

Ted Bier, our senior research specialist for the Long-Term Ecological Research program, was recently photographed on Lake Monona holding this massive chunk of ice in front of the Madison skyline.

Ted Bier hoists a two-foot thick chunk of ice on Lake Monona. Photo: Kirsten Rhude

That picture led to the following story on The Capital Times website.

3. Clear-Water Phase: Are We Missing Lake Mendota’s Window?

Lake Monona's already doing it, why aren't Mendota's waters this clear? Photo: A. Hinterthuer











As always, thanks for reading! We’ll see you next year.

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 “Invasive Spiny Water Flea Found in Trout Lake”

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.