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Educators can apply for Lake Erie Shipboard Science Workshop

January 29th, 2024 by

Apply today for the 2024 Shipboard Science Workshop aboard US EPA’s R/V Lake Guardian on Lake Erie!

Formal and non-formal 5th–12th grade educators from across the Great Lakes states are invited to apply to join the Center for Great Lakes Literacy (CGLL) and Great Lakes scientists for a once-in-a-lifetime, free opportunity to assist scientists and bring the Great Lakes back to their classrooms! The workshop is July 7–13, 2024. Deadline for applications is Feb. 19, 2024.

Through a partnership with the US EPA Great Lakes National Program Office, and funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative through NOAA, educators will spend a full week alongside researchers aboard the US EPA research vessel R/V Lake Guardian. Hosts for the Lake Erie workshop are CGLL partners Ohio Sea Grant and Pennsylvania Sea Grant educators.

The Shipboard Science Workshops rotate among the five Great Lakes and are designed to promote Great Lakes sciences while forging lasting relationships between Great Lakes researchers and educators. CGLL is a collaborative effort led by Sea Grant educators throughout the U.S. Great Lakes watershed. CGLL fosters informed and responsible decisions that advance basin-wide stewardship by providing hands-on experiences, educational resources, and networking opportunities promoting Great Lakes literacy among an engaged community of educators, scientists, and youth.

For more information on the 2024 Shipboard Science Workshop and application materials, visit the Center for Great Lakes Literacy website.

 


Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a partnership between NOAA, University of Illinois Extension, and Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources, bringing science together with communities for solutions that work. Sea Grant is a network of 34 science, education and outreach programs located in every coastal and Great Lakes state, Lake Champlain, Puerto Rico and Guam.

In the News: Sustainable, functionally designed garden receives gifts to grow impact

January 24th, 2024 by

Nestled in the pedestrian walkways leading from Illini Grove to the larger University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus, Illinois Extension’s 10,000-square-foot Red Oak Rain Garden is an inviting demonstration site that first began to take shape in 2006 to address flooding issues that threatened pathways and a large red oak tree. It has continued to evolve through collaborative efforts and multiple funding sources including campus Facilities & Services, the Student Sustainability Committee, the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, Champaign County Design and Conversation Foundation, and partnership with Extension’s Champaign County Master Gardeners and East Central Illinois Master Naturalists.

Direct, individual donor support is also a vital component of sustaining the garden. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign alumnae Karen Folk and her husband, Michael, who pledged $25,000 in funding toward Red Oak Rain Garden, shared, “Red Oak Rain Garden’s transformation from a barren, littered campus space to a beautiful garden and effective stormwater management system has been inspiring. Its long-term maintenance is important to us because it has also become a learning environment for students, volunteers, and the wider community. We hope that our gift will inspire others to contribute to keeping this a space of natural beauty for all to enjoy.” 

Recently, Mrs. Jean Bollero Lawyer of Heyworth, joined this group of committed partners by contributing a gift of $5,000 toward the continued maintenance and improvement of Red Oak Rain Garden. Mrs. Lawyer shared her gift inspiration, “Much of my undergrad experience at University of Illinois took place outdoors, as I walked around the beautiful campus. I found that fresh air, beautiful sights, and yes — walking had a positive impact on my sense of well-being. Fifty years later, I want to help provide that same experience to others. There is so much we can learn from nature as well as in the classroom.”  

C. Eliana Brown, water quality and stormwater specialist with Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and Illinois Extension, who serves as director of the rain garden, remarked, “generous gifts like these are important because they allow us to maintain this haven for people and wildlife in perpetuity and ensure that both the habitat and the day-to-day function are optimized.”

Visitors and those hustling over the boardwalk bridge on their way to and from campus get a sense of well-being from the sustainable landscape, which features over 9,000 native plants, wildlife habitation (including pollinators and avian residents), a footbridge made from sustainably harvested wood from Allerton Park, and small sculptural elements that all work in harmony to create a beautiful and smart space that addresses an area that would otherwise be prone to flooding. The rain garden’s native plants and soil absorb and filter rainwater runoff, which mitigates flooding and improves water quality. The garden is certified as a Monarch Watch butterfly waystation and bird-friendly by the National Audubon Society. Both landscape architecture and horticultural classes regularly visit the space, as well as little ones from the Child Development Lab.

To stay up to date, follow Red Oak Rain Garden on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram.

Become a donor
Invest today in programs that are transforming our world. https://extension.illinois.edu/giftpage

Become a volunteer
Interested in learning about rain garden care and native plants? Workdays are 9 to 11 a.m. Fridays. If you’re interested in volunteering, email uie-RedOakRainGarden@illinois.edu

Ready to start a rain garden? 
Get started with these Illinois Extension resources:

 


Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a partnership between NOAA, University of Illinois Extension, and Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources, bringing science together with communities for solutions that work. Sea Grant is a network of 34 science, education and outreach programs located in every coastal and Great Lakes state, Lake Champlain, Puerto Rico and Guam.

Contact: C. Eliana Brown, water quality and stormwater specialist, Illinois-Indiana See Grant and Illinois Extension

Writer: Emily Steele, media communications manager, Illinois Extension

Source: Illinois Extension News 

IISG Research Coordinator Carolyn Foley wins Purdue FNR service award

January 23rd, 2024 by

Carolyn Foley, research coordinator for Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG), received the Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) 2023 Outstanding Administrative/Professional Staff Member Award. Foley was recognized for her leadership, resourcefulness and selfless contributions to FNR and IISG, as well as for her diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging efforts for both organizations.

Carolyn Foley poses for a selfie in her home office. Foley has served the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant research program since 2010 and is the primary contact for questions related to requests for proposals and IISG funded research projects at all stages of completion. She also helps plan and execute research and outreach activities on campus and with several collaborative partners across the Great Lakes region. Foley started the IISG Scholars Program in 2021, which provides funding and professional development for graduate students as well as faculty from institutes of higher learning in Illinois and Indiana. In the past year, she managed a complex research program of her own, studying aquatic invertebrates and small-bodies fishes, and supported Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative efforts on Lake Michigan while also serving as research coordinator for IISG as a whole. Professionally, Foley served as the Past-Chair of the National Sea Grant Research Coordinators Network and Chair of the Great Lakes Research Coordinators Network in 2023. In the summer of 2023, Foley began serving as the Co-Chair of the Purdue FNR Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice and Belonging (DEIJB) Committee.

Her nominators shared that “Carolyn’s dedication to the research and educational mission of Purdue and FNR is top tier” and that she “is valued for her leadership within the broader Sea Grant network and beyond.” One colleague summed it up like this: “Carolyn embodies the concept that if you care more about it than anyone else, you own it. Every day, she shows up and finds creative ways to keep the trains running and helps find solutions to thorny issues to make us, and everyone around her, better at doing what they do.”

Foley was previously honored at Purdue with the College of Agriculture’s Unsung Diversity Hero Award in 2021.

 


Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a partnership between NOAA, University of Illinois Extension, and Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources, bringing science together with communities for solutions that work. Sea Grant is a network of 34 science, education and outreach programs located in every coastal and Great Lakes state, Lake Champlain, Puerto Rico and Guam.

Adapted from Purdue FNR article

Purdue Extension to connect underserved communities with energy and environmental funding

June 19th, 2023 by

Purdue Extension—in partnership with the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development (NCRCRD), Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and Purdue Center for Regional Development (PCRD)—have been selected to support a multi-state effort to help rural, tribal and underserved communities access federal funding for energy and environmental improvement efforts.

The University of Minnesota will lead the effort as an Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Center with funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5. The Purdue Extension Community Development program will provide central support in Indiana to help communities navigate federal grant application systems, identify partners and matching funds, and assist with project design and development.

“Purdue Extension is positioned well to connect with rural and underserved communities across Indiana with staff in all 92 counties,” said Kara Salazar, assistant program leader for Purdue Extension Community Development and sustainable communities extension specialist with Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant. “We look forward to working with regional partners as a liaison for communities in need of resources to assist with clean energy and water, affordable and sustainable housing, and addressing legacy pollution.”

Michael Wilcox, associate director of NCRCRD and assistant director and program leader of Purdue Extension Community Development, welcomes interested community partners to reach out to get involved. 

“We look forward to connecting with communities across the state while collaborating with our partners across the EPA Region 5. This is another excellent example of states within the north central region working together as partners to address pressing issues while fostering community resilience,” he added.

“Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is enthusiastic to build on our ongoing programs as we partner on this broad project to help support underserved coastal communities around southern Lake Michigan and throughout the Great Lakes in addressing environmental challenges,” said Tomas Höök, director of Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and professor in Purdue University, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources.

PCRD will provide support for engagement and data needs throughout the project for local leaders and funding partners.

“The funds will provide resources to engage in capacity building for rural and tribal marginalized and underserved communities as they participate in a clean energy economy and work on advancing environmental justice goals,” said Indraneel Kumar, principal regional planner for PCRD.

Support and outreach will begin in July 2023 and continue for five years. The regional center is a part the Biden administration’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to deliver 40% of the overall benefits of climate, clean energy, affordable and sustainable housing, clean water and other investments to disadvantaged communities.


Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a partnership between NOAA, University of Illinois Extension, and Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources, bringing science together with communities for solutions that work. Sea Grant is a network of 34 science, education and outreach programs located in every coastal and Great Lakes state, Lake Champlain, Puerto Rico and Guam.

 

Contact: Kara Salazar

Kwamena Quagrainie receives Fulbright Specialist award to Ghana

June 15th, 2023 by

The U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board announced earlier this year that Kwamena Quagrainie of Purdue University received a Fulbright Specialist Program award. Through April and May of 2023, Dr. Quagrainie completed a project at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, training faculty and graduate students about the economics of aquaculture. The project’s aim was to exchange knowledge and establish partnerships benefiting participants, institutions, and communities both in the U.S. and overseas through a variety of educational and training activities within the field of agriculture. 

Kwamena

Kwamena Quagrainie (far right) stands with faculty and graduate students in front of an aquaculture facility at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana.

Dr. Quagrainie is one of over 400 U.S. citizens who share expertise with host institutions abroad through the Fulbright Specialist Program each year. Recipients of Fulbright Specialist awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, demonstrated leadership in their field, and their potential to foster long-term cooperations between institutions in the U.S. and abroad. 

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the Program, which operates in over 160 countries worldwide. 

Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has given more than 400,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. 

Fulbrighters address critical global issues in all disciplines, while building relationships, knowledge, and leadership in support of the long-term interests of the United States. Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in many fields, including 60 who have been awarded the Nobel Prize, 88 who have received Pulitzer Prizes, and 39 who have served as a head of state or government. 

For further information about the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State, please visit https://eca.state.gov/fulbright


Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a partnership between NOAA, University of Illinois Extension, and Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources, bringing science together with communities for solutions that work. Sea Grant is a network of 34 science, education and outreach programs located in every coastal and Great Lakes state, Lake Champlain, Puerto Rico and Guam.

 

Contact: Kwamena Quagrainie

Educators to learn from scientists and Sea Grant aboard ship on Lake Ontario

June 14th, 2023 by

15 Teachers, 5 Great Lakes States, 1 Week on EPA Research Vessel Lake Guardian

Fifteen educators from five states along the Great Lakes will become scientists during the 2023 Shipboard Science Workshop on Lake Ontario aboard the Lake Guardian, the U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) research vessel. This unique workshop hosted by New York Sea Grant (NYSG) will take place July 6-12, 2023. The ship will depart from Rochester and make shore stops in Youngstown and Oswego.

Teachers from New York, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin will learn alongside research scientists from the U.S. EPA GLNPO, the Great Lakes Research Consortium, the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and Cornell University.

NYSG Great Lakes Literacy Specialist Nate Drag will guide the teachers in developing lesson plans and curricula to take back to their classrooms to inspire students.

“This unique on-the-water hands-on learning experience increases teachers’ understanding of the Great Lakes’ unparalleled value and fosters creation of personalized teaching resources to spark student interest in the world’s largest surface freshwater system,” said Drag.

Among their activities, the group will take part in water sampling and be able to analyze the samples in on-board laboratories.

This Shipboard Science Workshop is supported with Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding, through an interagency agreement by the U.S. EPA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and National Sea Grant Office. Learn more at www.epa.gov/great-lakes-monitoring/lake-guardian/ and www.epa.gov/great-lakes-monitoring/cooperative-science-and-monitoring-initiative-csmi/.

New York Sea Grant will be leading the Lake Ontario Shipboard Science Workshop in cooperation with the Center for Great Lakes Literacy, coordinated by all Great Lakes Sea Grant programs. 

The 2023 Lake Ontario Shipboard Science Workshop teachers by state are:

New York
. Barbara Bibbins, Belleville-Henderson Central School, Belleville;
. Melissa Elliott, North Tonawanda High School, North Tonawanda;
. Joseph Perry, Palmyra-Macedon High School, Palmyra;
. Christy Pratt, Horseheads High School, Horseheads;
. Peter Spence, Byron-Bergen Jr/Sr High School, Bergen;
. Tara Spitzer-List, Virtual Academy of Rochester, Rochester; and
. Tucker Ruderman, World of Inquiry School #58, Rochester.

Illinois
. Jennifer Kahn, Libertyville High School, Libertyville; and
. Colleen McVeigh, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago.

Michigan
. Katrina Coyne, Flat Rock Community High School, Flat Rock;
. Natalie Cypher, Michigan Outdoor Adventure Center, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Detroit; and
. Stephanie Dege, Posen High School, Posen.

Ohio
. Beth Schoonover, Stow-Munroe Falls High School, Stow.

Wisconsin
. Jennifer Koziar, Edgewood Campus School, Madison; and
. Dana Lex, West De Pere High School, De Pere.

 

MEDIA CONTACTS
. New York Sea Grant Great Lakes Literacy Specialist Nate Drag, 716-645-3610, nwd4@cornell.edu
. Publicist Kara Lynn Dunn: 315-465-7578, karalynn@gisco.net

We’re hiring an aquatic invasive species specialist!

May 15th, 2023 by

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is looking to hire an Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Specialist to develop and conduct basic and applied research and outreach efforts with a focus on aquatic invasive species. The successful candidate will serve as a full time, 12-month academic professional who works with Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and the Illinois Natural History Survey—part of the Prairie Research Institute at University of Illinois—and will work from an office at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Illinois.

INCLUSION AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

The University of Illinois System is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer dedicated to building a community of excellence, equity, and diversity. They are committed to fostering an inclusive environment and welcome applications from qualified individuals of all backgrounds and identities. University of Illinois participates in the federal e-Verify program and participates in a background check program focused on prior criminal or sexual misconduct history.

We strongly encourage women, minorities, and people from traditionally underrepresented groups to apply. For more on Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s commitment to inclusion, please see our program’s values statement.

POSITION DETAILS

Responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Lead scientific field research for the Invasive Crayfish Collaborative to ensure completion of grant deliverables.
  • Develop AIS outreach materials and participate in outreach events.
  • Plan and facilitate meetings and workshops focused on AIS research and outreach.
  • Present research findings at local, regional, national, and international meetings.
  • Contribute to efforts in obtaining external resources to support research and outreach projects and programs (e.g., providing data summaries, costs of materials).
  • Compile reports and effectively manage project funds.
  • Contribute research findings to reports for funding agencies.

Bachelor’s degree required in biology, aquatic ecology, zoology, or closely related field. Alternate degree fields will be considered depending on the nature and depth of the experience at it relates to this position. A minimum of two years of experience conducting basic and applied research is required. 

TO APPLY

To learn more about the position’s responsibilities and qualifications, visit the job posting on the University of Illinois job board. Applications are due by June 4, 2023.


Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a partnership between NOAA, University of Illinois Extension, and Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources, bringing science together with communities for solutions that work. Sea Grant is a network of 34 science, education and outreach programs located in every coastal and Great Lakes state, Lake Champlain, Puerto Rico and Guam.

 

Contact: Pat Charlebois

Submit your bracket for Mulch Madness 2023

March 7th, 2023 by

It’s that exciting time of the year again, but we’re not talking about basketball. Hold on to your gardening hats, sports fans — it’s time for the Red Oak Rain Garden’s FOURTH ANNUAL Mulch Madness contest! 🎉 Our tournament takes an educational spin, teaching people about native plants in a spirited, engaging, and competitive way.

HOW IT WORKS

Twenty-eight native plants from the Red Oak Rain Garden are battling it out for the title as this year’s Champion. Your votes will determine which plant is the winner! All of the “games” are held through polls on RORG’s social media. Follow @RainGardenUIUC to play along!

Matches take place on weekdays from Tuesday, March 14 to Thursday, March 30 at 11:00 AM and 6:00 PM. This is your chance to vote! You do not need to submit a bracket to participate in the games, but it is more fun that way! The winner with the most accurate bracket submission will receive a $20 gift certificate to their favorite local business (because buying local is better for the environment!). 

HOW TO SUBMIT A BRACKET

  1. Click on the bracket below.
  2. In the tab that pops up, click the “download” icon
  3. Fill it out with your picks and save the document. Please include your nameNote that you can learn more about the plants by clicking their names in the bracket.
  4. Submit it to uie-redoakraingarden@illinois.edu by Tuesday, March 14 at 10:00 AM.
 

To enter, click on this bracket, download it, fill it out, and send to UIE-RedOakRainGarden@illinois.edu

RULES

  1. One bracket entry per person. Brackets must be submitted by Tuesday, March 14 at 10:00 AM Central Time. Games start at 11:00 AM the same day.
  2. The winning bracket is chosen based on the ESPN Fantasy scoring system.
    A correct pick in each round is shown below:     

    1. Round 1: 10 points per pick
    2. Round 2: 20 points per pick
    3. Round 3: 40 points per pick
    4. Round 4: 80 points per pick
    5. Championship: 160 points per pick

PRIZE

Your points are totaled according to correct guesses, so the person with the most accurate bracket receives a special reward from us: A $20 gift certificate to a local business of your choice! The business must have a gift certificate option available.

Good luck, gardeners. We look forward to another year of Mulch Madness… May the best plant win!

Previous Winners

2022- Wild Hyacinth

2021- Virginia Bluebells

2020- Butterflyweed

 

#MulchMadness2023


Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a partnership between NOAA, University of Illinois Extension, and Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources, bringing science together with communities for solutions that work. Sea Grant is a network of 34 science, education and outreach programs located in every coastal and Great Lakes state, Lake Champlain, Puerto Rico and Guam.

 

Contact: Eliana Brown, Layne Knoche

Meet Our Grad Student Scholars: Brooke Karasch

February 21st, 2023 by

“Meet Our Grad Student Scholars” is a series from Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) celebrating the graduate students doing research funded by the IISG scholars program. To learn more about our faculty and graduate student funding opportunities, visit our Fellowships & Scholarships page. Brooke Karasch is a doctoral student in the Environmental Sciences Program at Ball State University. She is currently in her third year in the program and works on research focused on the development of learning and antipredator responses. As a model for this work, she uses fish — mainly fathead minnows. In the work that’s being funded by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, she uses lake sturgeon. Her broader research interests focus on how behavioral ecology can be used to further conservation goals.


a small sturgeon rests in the palm of someone's hand

This lake sturgeon is about 2-3 weeks old. It’s developing the characteristic snout and the sharp scutes, or protective scales, in a ridge along its back. Although this sturgeon was less than 2 inches long at the time, adult lake sturgeon can reach 7 feet.

Have you ever thought about how an animal knows which other animals it should be afraid of? Probably not, but this kind of question is what Brooke Karasch thinks about all day in her PhD research. The Ward Lab at Ball State University—where she conducts her work—focuses on a few different areas of animal behavior, including the effects of pollution on behavior, the sensory inputs that affect behavior, and most interestingly for her, the early life development of learning. In her work as an Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Grad Student Scholar, Brooke is focused on how lake sturgeon learn to recognize and respond to a predator at their earliest life stages.

Before this research could begin, Brooke needed one key component: lake sturgeon gametes. To procure lake sturgeon sperm and eggs, she worked with collaborators at the Black Lake Sturgeon Facility. The team of fisheries technicians ventured out to the Black River beginning in late April. Divers donned wetsuits and snorkels, and returned to the surface with over 250 adult sturgeon over the course of the breeding season. Not all of them were ready to breed at the time of capture, but by early May, they’d collected gametes from 8 adult males and 8 adult females for Brooke, and other researchers, to use. (All sturgeon were released unharmed!)

Lake sturgeon are broadcast spawners, which involves the release of both eggs and sperm into the water column, so a given female’s eggs might be fertilized by sperm from many different males in the wild. However, for research purposes, it’s useful to know who the parents are. So, upon bringing the male and female gametes to the lab, they were hand-fertilized using a technique that the Black Lake facility developed — carefully stirring the eggs and sperm in a concoction of clay and water, using a turkey feather. The clay is to prevent the embryos from sticking together, which can make them more susceptible to disease. The feather is used to gently keep them in motion while the clay coats them.

someone stands at a lab table, using a feather to stir something in a large bowl. closeup of large bowl shows muddy-looking water and a hand holding a turkey feather in the water.

After collecting eggs and sperm from adult lake sturgeon in the Black River, Karasch fertilized them manually. The process is a little strange: eggs and sperm are swirled together, then rinsed, then stirred in a clay mixture for nearly an hour. The clay prevents the eggs from sticking together, which improves survival. She used turkey feathers to stir the eggs because they’re delicate, and the feather is gentle. Finally, she rinsed them with iodine before setting them up in treatments, to help prevent any early infections the eggs might pick up from river water.

Once the eggs were fertilized and began developing as embryos, the experiment began in earnest. Brooke’s work focuses on learning in fish, when they are at the earliest life stage, which is the embryonic stage. What would an embryonic fish need to learn? There is one critical piece of information that all animals need to know at every life stage: which animals are likely to eat them. To teach embryonic fish about predators, Brooke uses associative learning, similar to Pavlov ringing the bell at the same time as he fed the dog, until the dog associated the bell with food.

Brooke presented the sturgeon embryos with two scent-based cues. One was an “alarm” cue, which the sturgeon embryos innately recognized as dangerous; the cue was made of naturally deceased juvenile sturgeon, pulverized and diluted with water. The other was a “predator” cue, which the sturgeon embryos had to learn was dangerous; this cue was made from water that rusty crayfish were kept in for 24 hours.

The embryos were given both cues together from the time they were first fertilized until they began hatching. But there was another twist to this experiment — Brooke also wanted to know how temperature would affect learning for the embryos. Throughout their development, she kept them at three different temperatures: 58°F; 65°F; and varied from 54°-72°F, depending on the river itself. The information gained through varying temperatures is meant to help Brooke investigate how climate change might affect learning in this imperiled species.

 

Just before the embryos began hatching, Brooke started experimental tests. To determine if they would use their antipredator behaviors without the alarm cue, she tested them in either plain water or water with only the predator cue. This would show if they had learned to associate the predator cue with the alarm cue. First, she tested embryos. Because embryos are inside an egg and are surrounded by the eggshell (called the “chorion”), the antipredator behavior is to hold still and cease movement since they can’t swim away. Normally, embryos wiggle around a little inside their chorion, but if they detect a signal of “danger” such as the scent of a predator, they’ll hold still to hopefully avoid being seen. After completing test on the embryos, Brooke then let them hatch and tested them again a few weeks later.

“Analysis is ongoing, so it’s hard to say just yet what the results of this experiment might be,” said Brooke. “I’m excited to keep digging into the data for the project. This research will provide more information on how learning develops, and it’s especially important to get this kind of information for an imperiled species like the lake sturgeon.”


Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a partnership between NOAA, University of Illinois Extension, and Purdue University Forestry and Natural Resources, bringing science together with communities for solutions that work. Sea Grant is a network of 34 science, education and outreach programs located in every coastal and Great Lakes state, Lake Champlain, Puerto Rico and Guam.

 

Contact: Carolyn Foley

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