Category Archives: Trout Lake Station

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)


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 – 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

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.

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 –->)

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

Summer of Outreach Starts with Front-Row Seats to Mining Debate

Me, Meredith Smalley, loving summer life in the northwoods of Wisconsin

by Meredith Smalley

Hello there!

I’m Meredith Smalley, and I’ll spend this summer writing about my experience working as the summer outreach intern and living at the University of Wisconsin-Trout Lake Station in Boulder Junction, WI. I hope I can use this opportunity to share what I discover during my short stay in the Northwoods and immersion in limnological research. As an incoming senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in journalism, I hope to incubate what I’ve learned thus far during my “Wisconsin Experience” and develop my writing in the natural science setting.

The six panel speakers and moderator Larry Konopacki during the June 5th forum on mining in the Penokee range

The six panel speakers and moderator Larry Konopacki during the June 5th forum on mining in the Penokee range

My summer started off with a bang, as Trout Lake Station’s first major event was collaborating as part of Science On Tap Minocqua to host a panel discussion regarding mining in the Penokee Range. The event on June 5th aimed to provide the public (nearly 400 of whom filled the room) with unbiased information to better understand what mining in the Penokees might entail. With a panel of experts from the fields of geology, engineering, economics, the environment and regulation, the discussion seemed to thoroughly cover many aspects of the mining process and its potential effects, but there was also hesitation by the speakers to make too many concrete statements about what this particular mining proposal could encompass. Continue reading

Trout Lake Station “Artist-in-Residence” Program Inspires Art/Science Connection

This summer, Trout Lake Station hosted it’s 2nd annual artist-in-residence – painter, Helen Klebesadel. The program hopes to create collaborative art and science projects focusing on the long-term ecology of lakes. Below is Helen’s recap of her time “up north.”

Allequash Lake, plein air painted watercolor by Helen Klebesadel, near Boulder Junction, WI, June 2014

Allequash Lake, plein air painted watercolor by Helen Klebesadel, near Boulder Junction, WI, June 2014

I have just returned from a splendid ten days of non-stop plein air painting (and skitter swatting) in the lake country around Boulder Junction, Wisconsin.  It was my extreme pleasure to bring my art research through observation to the University of Wisconsin Trout Lake Station as a part of a new artist residency program.  I was given a space to stay and access to a canoe and the researchers working this summer at the Station.  The Trout Lake Station is a year-round field station operated by the Center for Limnology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Located in the Northern Highland Lake District in northern Wisconsin, the station provides access to a wide variety of aquatic ecosystems and their surrounding landscapes. More than 2500 lakes are within 50km of the station.

The Trout Lake Station is a field site of the North Temperate Lakes Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) project, which is part of a national network studying long-term ecological change.  The residency is designed for visual artists, writers and musicians who have specific interests in exploring the relationship between people, northern lakes and landscapes, and the long-term scientific investigations of the LTER project.  One 1-2 week residency between June 1 and August 31 will be offered each year. (Keep an eye out for the next call for applications in the fall.  I will post it on my Art Face Book page.)

My thanks to Trout Lake Research Station Director, Tim K. Kratz , who made me feel so welcome, and to freelance artist and field biologist, Terry Daulton, who was both a guide and an  inspiration.  Both Tim and Terry have been involved in actively imagining how the arts and humanities can become a part of the long terms reflections and research being done at Trout Lake Research Station. Continue reading and see more of Helen’s work ->


Experts to Discuss Mining in the Penokee Range at Public Forum, June 5th

Panorama of the Penokee Hills. Photo: Wisconsin Public Television

Panorama of the Penokee Hills. Photo: Wisconsin Public Television



Minocqua, WI – A final decision won’t be made for years but, already, the proposal to build an open-pit iron mine in Iron and Ashland counties has created a stir in Wisconsin. Politicians have updated state laws. Protesters are camped out in the Northwoods. Claims are being made about both economic promise and environmental peril. In the midst of the loud debate, it can be difficult to determine what qualifies as sound information.

On Thursday, June 5th, at 6:30pm, a panel of scientists, engineers and regulators will gather at the Campanile Center for the Arts in Minocqua to speak to the public and bring context to the issue of mining in the Penokee Range. In a series of short presentations, followed by a moderated question and answer session, attendees can expect to hear a comprehensive, value-neutral, scientifically based discussion. Continue reading

Our Cup Spilleth Over: Science on Tap Keeps Getting Better

The initial Science on Tap discussion brought a standing-room only crowd. Photo: Carol Warden

The initial Science on Tap discussion brought a standing-room only crowd. Photo: Carol Warden

When we arrived at the Minocqua Brewing Company that cold and snowy February night back in 2013, we weren’t sure what to expect from our first-ever science cafe event. “Science on Tap-Minocqua,” the brainchild of Trout Lake Station director, Tim Kratz, was an attempt to introduce folks to some of the science we do at the Center for Limnology and, especially, at our research station up north. Not only does our research often matter to people who care about Wisconsin waters, as part of a public institution, those same people support our work.

We wanted to create a place where we could have a dialogue and folks would feel comfortable asking questions and offering comments about issues affecting Wisconsin residents. But, standing-room only crowds? For science? No way, we thought. Science is a hard sell.

Happily, we thought wrong. On that first frigid night, more than 200 people packed the room and spilled into other parts of the restaurant. And, since then, it’s just been getting better.

And you don’t have to make it to Minocqua to follow along. We now offer live streaming of all Science on Tap events, so viewers can follow along and even send in a question or two to have answered by an expert. And if you miss the show, no worries, we’ve got them all archived on our YouTube channel!

In fact, so many science-hungry audiences keep turning up on the first Wednesday of each month, that we’ve expanded our topics to include research from throughout the University of Wisconsin and all over the state. Some recent Science on Tap talks have concerned vitamin D and its effects on healthy aging, carnivores in the Northwoods, and ticks and tick-borne diseases. Next month, Maggie Turnbull, a UW alum and freelance astronomer, will talk about her work with NASA as she tries to identify potentially “habitable” planets in our solar system. And, in June, we’ll host an important panel discussion of the proposed Gogebic Taconite iron mine and take our first-ever Science on Tap field trip to see some of the area up close.

It’s all just part of our effort to get good, solid science out into the social sphere, where we hope it can be used to help all of us here in Wisconsin make good decisions, craft sound policies and, of course, engage in a civil and casual conversation about big, important issues!

Science on Tap-Minocqua wouldn’t be possible without the strong support of the Minocqua Public Library, Lakeland Badger chapter of the WAA, UW’s Kemp Natural Resources Station and, of course, the Minocqua Brewing Company.