Current Research

Dom Ciruzzi: As drought variability is expected to increase across the globe thus varying timing and quantity of water available for forests, it is critical to evaluate ecosystem attributes that reduce drought impacts. Through this research, we plan to evaluate groundwater use by trees as an ecosystem attribute that buffers against the potential adverse impacts of changing drought regimes on temperate forests. We are developing innovative tools to detect drought responses (e.g. water stress) of trees and how these responses may be mediated by shallow groundwater through fieldwork and numerical modeling designed to capture below- and above-ground ecohydrologic processes. Blog post

Holly Embke: Walleye, a culturally, economically, and ecologically important sportfish in much of North America, has experienced declines in recent years. The cause of these declines is not understood, but is likely due to a combination of factors, such as temperature changes, harvest, and species interactions. As part of a multi-year project to understand the mechanisms underlying how Walleye are affected by other fishes, we will be conducting an experiment on McDermott Lake. We will remove as many bass and sunfish from this lake as possible to determine if there is an interaction between these fishes and walleye.

Gretchen Gerrish: I am an evolutionary ecologist that studies how organisms adapt to changing ecological conditions. My research focuses on aquatic invertebrates with unique life cycles and reproductive strategies that allow them to survive in variable environments. Currently, I am investigating how vertical migration behavior in zooplankton changes in relation to moonlight throughout the lunar cycle.

Susan Knight: In summer 2018, we investigated rings of water shield, (Brasenia schreberi), a floating-leaved aquatic plant, in the Huron Mountains of northern MI.  Though water shield commonly hugs the perimeter of lakes, the doughnut-shaped rings (“fairy rings”) in the middle of the lake is an unusual growth pattern for this plant.  We hypothesized the plants were missing from the center of the rings because of a cold-water spring, but tests revealed this was not the case.  We will return and continue to investigate this odd growth pattern.

Eric Larson: Annual Monitoring of rusty crayfish population trends.

David Lonzarich: The primary goals of the project for this summer are: 1) to characterize species richness and distribution patterns of mosses from deep-water habitats in soft-water lakes from across northern Wisconsin and 2) to conduct physico-chemical measurements in these lakes for the purpose of identifying the factors contributing to variability in moss distribution, abundance and diversity. Our secondary goal this summer is to develop a laboratory protocol to measure genetic diversity of Drepanocladus aduncus, a deep-water moss species that I have found from several WI lakes. By measuring population level genetic diversity within and among lakes, my aims of this genetic study are to explore answers to questions concerning moss colonization of deep-water lake habitats.

Dr. Noah Lottig:I am an Assistant Scientist and Site Manager with the North Temperate Lakes Long Term Ecological Research Program. My primary research interests focus around ecosystem ecology and landscape limnology. I am particularly interested in understanding the long-term dynamics of aquatic ecosystems as well as the role aquatic ecosystems play in the regional and global carbon cycle.

Ben Martin: Spiny water flea (Bythotrephes longimanus) is an invasive zooplankton that’s spread across several Wisconsin lakes and heavily prey upon native zooplankton communities. Spiny water flea have a long caudal spine with several spines that make them difficult to consume, and therefore can be problematic for planktivorous fish and young life stages. This project is focused on the potential to manage spiny water flea from the top-down through fish predation. To do so, we will be comparing the foraging behavior of various fishes in relation to native prey and spiny water flea.

Joe Mrnak: The introduction and establishment of invasive rainbow smelt in two North Temperate Lakes Long Term Ecological Research lakes (Sparkling and Crystal) has resulted in functional extirpations of formerly naturally reproducing populations of native yellow perch, walleye, and cisco. In 2017, we observed yellow perch relative abundances approaching levels observed prior to the introduction of rainbow smelt along with clear evidence of multiple age classes of yellow perch present in the lake. This research project will focus around understanding the current yellow perch and rainbow smelt populations and their age/size-structure and foraging behavior.

Mackenzie Rich: Wright State Graduate Student. My research uses camera traps to model spatial and temporal distributions of carnivores within a 25 square kilometer privately owned property in Boulder Junction, Wisconsin. During this trip, I will be downloading data from and re-baiting my 25 cameras. Elyse will be conducting an eDNA survey of local lakes in order to determine if the invasive spiny water flea is present.

Kevin Gauthier: Our new project will build upon the previous Cascade experiment. Nutrients will be added to a lake to experimentally induce an algal bloom. Ecosystem variables (e.g. chlorophyll, phycocyanin, dissolved oxygen) will be monitored at a high temporal and spatial high frequency for early warnings of shifts to dominance by nuisance levels of cyanobacteria. We will attempt to detect the impending regime shift to cyanobacteria early enough to be able to halt nutrient additions in time to prevent cyanobacterial blooms.

Quinn Smith: My project focuses on coarse woody habitat addition (tree drops) to Sanford Lake and measuring fish community responses. This study will evaluate habitat use, short-term productivity, and food web dynamics in walleye (Sander vitreus), muskellunge (Esox masquinongy), and smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) in response to coarse woody habitat addition.

Jake Swanson: My project focuses on examining the relationship between light, nutrients, and phytoplankton community composition in lakes and ponds. I am especially interested in the relationship between light spectrum, nitrogen, phosphorus, and algal diversity. Broadly, I’m taking an approach that incorporates modeling, lab microcosm experiments, field sampling, and field experiments. I am particularly interested in under which light and nutrients conditions either constrain or allow for the coexistence of more phytoplankton species than predicted under resource competition theory.

Cheyenne Stratton: This project is an Aquatic Invasive Species Research grant funded through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, “Using Pathogens to control impacts of invasive crayfish.” The focus of the project is to identify crayfish diseases that are already present in Wisconsin waters that could be good candidates for biocontrol of invasive crayfish. We will screen virile crayfish, northern clearwater crayfish, and rusty crayfish from lakes in northern Wisconsin for diseases to identify crayfish parasites and pathogens in the region. The following summer, we will expose crayfish to diseases that may be good candidates for biocontol and examine their effects on crayfish survival and behavior.

Phil Townsend: The Chequamegon Heterogeneous Ecosystem Energy-balance Study Enabled by a High-density Extensive Array of Detectors (CHEESEHEAD) is an intensive NSF-supported field-campaign in 2019 to install up to 20 flux towers in the 10 km x10 km domain around the existing Park Falls, WI, WLEF 400 m very tall tower Ameriflux/NOAA supersite. Our group is responsible for characterizing vegetation variability within this footprint. We use airborne remote sensing data that we fly combined with field data to characterize foliar functional traits and how they relate to net primary productivity.
Our second project supports the development of methods to map and model foliar functional traits at the NEON sites in northern Wisconsin using hypeprspectral imagery from NEON’s airborne observation platform (AOP).

Amber White: I will be conducting a large field campaign to sample lakes around the state of WI that are being treated with 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), an herbicide used to treat Eurasian watermilfoil. I will be monitoring the concentrations of 2,4-D in the lakes as they are being treated. I will measure 2,4-D in the water, sediment, and porewater, as well as the abundance of genes that are associated with 2,4-D degradation.

Dr. Carl Watras, is a WDNR research scientist and an honorary fellow with the Center for Limnology. Carl migrated to the Trout Lake Station in 1984 after completing a postdoc in water resources at MIT. His current research focuses on the biogeochemistry of sulfur (acid rain) and mercury (fish contamination) in relation to hydrology, microbial activity, climate and air pollution.  It involves the use of wireless sensor networks to track fluctuations in water water quality and quantity variables over time scales from hours to decades. His primary research site is Little Rock Lake, about 4km from the station. For recreation, he enjoys silent sports in and around the Lake Superior basin.