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.
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.
Visitors 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!
The Station was up early to get ready for our visitors.
Students put the finishing touches on some hand-drawn signs.
Before 1pm (when we announced we’d open) we already had 32 visitors!
Students talk with visitors about research on small mammals and tock-borne disease.
Regional Lakes Survey students talk about monitoring long-term change in Northwoods lakes.
Brittany explains how lakes get their color.
A visitor reluctantly touches a freshwater bryozoan.
Carol Warden, Vince Buttita and Susan Knight talk to a rapt audeince about aquatic plants.
Local artist, Terry Dalton, gets some help from visitors on a pastel project.
Two young visitors catch their own plankton in a net.
The Trout Lake “research pontoon” took visitors out on the lake.
A visitor tries her hand at using our research tool, like this plankton net.
A student helps a young visitor haul in her catch.
The “research pontoon” returns to dock to load back up.
A student explains a real-time monitoring project called “FLAMe.”
Seriously, the aquatic plant display was the most popular show on station!
Getting an up-close look at the invasive spiny water flea.
A student shows young visitors some seeds collected in her project.
The Weevil station explained how native bugs may fight invasive plants.
Vince Buttita discusses his summer’s field work aboard the FLAMe boat.
Bluegill, yellow perch and other resident fish were on display.
Two young visitors watch WDNR reps haul in the Fyke net.
As the crowd watches the Fyke net haul, Avery checks the weather.
The “research pontoon” heads back to port just ahead of the rain.
As most folks huddle in the carpot, Carol Warden and Susan Knight say the show must go on!
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).
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.
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.
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”
“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.
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.
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”
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.
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!
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!
Over the last two weeks, Lake Monona, Lake Waubesa, and Lake Kegonsa have all entered into their annual rite of spring’s clear-water phase. Lake Mendota, however, remains a murky mystery. Why are the downstream Yahara lakes so clear, when the lake at the top of the chain isn’t? Perhaps more important, are we going to miss Mendota’s clear-water window this year? Continue reading –>
As always, thanks for reading! We’ll see you next year.
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.
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.
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.
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 –->)