The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program (IISG) Faculty Scholars Program is a professional networking and development opportunity to support faculty from institutes of higher learning in Illinois and Indiana who wish to develop extension, education or communication capacities related to their scholarly interests. Applicants can request up to $12,000 to support activities that further the IISG mission to empower southern Lake Michigan communities to secure a healthy environment and economy.
The Sea Grant Scholars Program consists of a program introduction phase and a proposal development phase. Specific deliverables include a preliminary product, such as a literature review or needs assessment, and a fully developed proposal to submit to an external funding agency. Funding to support scholar activities will last one year starting May 1, 2019. Scholars will be expected to participate in networking activities with IISG staff and stakeholders throughout their tenure.
If you are a graduate student interested in combining your education and experience with policy, marine sciences or coastal community resiliency, consider applying for one, or even two, of these fellowships. The opportunities below are open to graduate students enrolled in a master’s or doctorate program. For more information, please visit our Fellowships page or contact Angela Archer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (765)496-3722.
John A. Knauss Fellowship
The Knauss fellowship provides a unique educational experience to students who have an interest in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources. The program matches highly qualified graduate students with “hosts” in the legislative and executive branches of government located in the Washington, D.C. area for a one year paid fellowship.
Application deadline: February 22, 2019, 5pm local time
The Coastal Management Fellowship was established to provide on-the-job education and training opportunities in coastal resource management and policy for postgraduate students and to provide project assistance to state coastal zone management programs. The program matches postgraduate students with state coastal zone programs to work on projects proposed by the state.
These fellowships are aimed at Ph.D. candidates, who are United States citizens, interested in the population dynamics of living marine resources and the development and implementation of quantitative methods for assessing their status. The marine resource economics fellowship concentrates on the conservation and management of marine resources.
Application deadline: January 30, 2019
Length: Up to two years for Marine Economics and up to three years for Population Dynamics
The Lake Michigan Sea Grant programs, including Wisconsin Sea Grant, Michigan Sea Grant and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, seek integrated proposals to better understand coastal hydrodynamics and nearshore sediment transport processes on Lake Michigan, to help effectively communicate this information to promote sustainable shore protection, and to increase the integrity of beaches and stabilize bluffs. The result would be more resilient coastal communities and economies.
Research is to be conducted in the 2020–22 biennium. Up to $100,000 per year for two years will be available for funding each of the Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois-Indiana portions of a joint research project (i.e., up to $300,000 per year total). Michigan and Illinois- or Indiana-based partners must demonstrate a 50 percent match (1 non-federal dollar for every 2 dollars requested). Match is not required for Wisconsin partners.
By partnering, the three Lake Michigan Sea Grant programs can support broader-scale projects to tackle challenges at a regional scale. In addition, generating collaborations across state lines can enrich the expertise of our in-state research teams.
Pre-proposals must demonstrate plans for collaboration between researchers from two (2) or three (3) of the state programs. The amount of funding available to the research team depends on the number and nature of collaborating partners; e.g., a researcher from Michigan and a researcher from Wisconsin could submit a proposal together for up to $400,000; researchers from Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois could submit a proposal together for up to $600,000.
Download RFP (PDF includes guidance for submitting pre-proposals).
Pre-proposals are due by 3pm CST (4pm EST) Friday, January 11, 2019.
For more information, Illinois and Indiana partners can contact Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Research Coordinator Carolyn Foley (email@example.com).
If you have interest in this topic and/or skills that would be relevant to a research team but you are not sure who to connect with in other states, contact Carolyn Foley (firstname.lastname@example.org), who can provide a Google doc link that is a resource for researchers who may be interested in partnering. Listing your information in this Google doc is not a requirement for submission to this RFP. It simply serves to help researchers find relevant partners.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Indiana’s average air temperatures are expected to rise by as much as 6 degrees Fahrenheit by mid-century, warming and reducing wintertime ice cover on the state’s lakes, streams, and rivers. At the same time, increases in winter and spring rainfall will likely wash more nutrients from farm fields into those water bodies, adding significant challenges to already fragile ecosystems.
Those are some of the key points in “Aquatic Ecosystems in a Shifting Indiana Climate,” the latest report from the Purdue University-based Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment, released during a community briefing Sept. 12 at Bass Pro Shops in Portage, Indiana.
“Changes in Indiana’s climate are going to affect the timing of water flows, the quality of water and water temperatures. All of these things have major implications for the wide variety of animals and plants that live in aquatic ecosystems,” said Jeff Dukes, director of the Purdue Climate Change Research Center. “Climate change is an additional stressor to Indiana’s native fish population. We already have invasive fish in many of our water bodies, and we have added a wide variety of pollutants and nutrients to our streams. How well some of our native populations will be able to deal with this accumulation of stresses piling up on them is still unclear.”
Rising water temperatures will likely shift stratification – the layering of water at different depths in lakes. That may improve or increase habitat for the state’s warm water fish.
However, those rising temperatures and increasing spring rain totals will send more nutrients from farm fields into nearby waters. That combination is problematic for many coldwater species, such as cisco, a native fish that used to exist in about 50 of the state’s lakes but has already suffered from rising temperatures.
“Because many of our lakes are very nutrient-rich, they experience large algal blooms in late spring and summer, which may grow larger with warmer temperatures and more spring runoff. Dead algae later settle to the lake’s bottom and are decomposed by bacteria, depleting the water’s oxygen,” said Tomas Höök, Purdue professor of fisheries and aquatic sciences, director of Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and lead author of the report. “This creates hypoxia in bottom waters. Cisco are going to get really squeezed from warmer temperatures on the surface and lack of oxygen on the bottom. Cisco persist in six lakes right now, but they may not be present in the state much longer.”
Changing precipitation patterns could also negatively impact Indiana’s already-endangered freshwater mussels, with different effects across seasons. Drier summers will likely reduce water levels in streams where the mussels live, exposing them to intolerable conditions. In the spring increased stream flows could dislodge mussels from their habitats in rivers.
Wetlands may stay wet longer in the spring and dry more than usual during the summer, altering ecosystems that depend on critical seasonal timing. Some plants and animals adapted to Indiana’s current climate may not thrive here in the coming decades.
In Lake Michigan, where near-surface temperatures have already warmed by 3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1980, temperature changes could lead some coldwater fishes, such as salmon, trout and lake whitefish, to move further offshore to deeper waters. As a result, they may spend less time in the Indiana waters of Lake Michigan, which are relatively shallow and warm. The lake’s warmer temperatures could also affect growth, spawning or reproductive processes for many valuable commercial and sport fish species.
Höök suggests those tasked with managing Indiana’s aquatic ecosystems focus on maintaining or increasing both genetic and habitat diversity.
“Trying to make precise predictions of how species will respond to climate change is tricky,” Höök said. “Climate change is one of many factors impacting aquatic organisms, along with pollution, invasive species, fisheries harvest and habitat destruction. But maintaining a diversity of species, habitats and genetic variation within these ecosystems should help buffer against these different stressors.”
Carolyn Foley, research coordinator for Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and a co-author on the report, suggests that people all over the state have the ability to help work on the issue, from researchers to everyday people.
“There are a lot of freshwater ecosystems in Indiana—streams, rivers, wetlands, lakes, reservoirs,” said Foley. “And a lot of great, water-related research happening here, too. In this report, researchers worked together to paint a rich picture of how aquatic ecosystem components might be affected by climate change. If the general public wants to help, they could think about volunteering with local watershed alliances or other organizations trying to improve waterways through cleanups, habitat restoration, or decreasing runoff from land to water. Keeping waters as healthy as possible will support robust ecosystems, which are more likely to successfully navigate the changes that are coming.”
The Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment (IN CCIA) is compiling the latest scientific research into a series of easily understandable reports about climate change impacts in 10 topic areas: climate, health, forest ecosystems, aquatic ecosystems, urban green infrastructure, tourism and recreation, agriculture, water resources, energy, and infrastructure. The assessment team consists of more than 100 experts from Purdue and other Indiana institutions.
The IN CCIA has now released six reports. All are available on the IN CCIA website at http://indianaclimate.org/. For more information about the IN CCIA, go to the website or follow on social media at @PurdueCCRC, #ClimateChange, #INCCIA.
Writer: Brian Wallheimer, 765-532-0233, email@example.com
Sources: Jeff Dukes, 765-496-3662, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tomas Höök, 765-496-6799, email@example.com
Carolyn Foley, firstname.lastname@example.org
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Warming temperatures and changes to Indiana’s precipitation patterns will challenge some of the plants and animals that depend on the state’s water for their survival, according to a new report from the Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment team assembled and managed by Purdue University.
The report, “Aquatic Ecosystems in a Shifting Indiana Climate,” will be released during a community briefing at 11 a.m. CDT, Sept. 12 in the Conservation Room at Bass Pro Shops, 6425 Daniel Burnham Drive, Portage, Indiana. The event is open to the public.
The temperature of Indiana’s waters—from inland ponds, lakes and rivers to the southern portion of Lake Michigan—is expected to rise with air temperatures over the coming decades. Impacts will include changes in the growth patterns, movement and reproduction of fish, which could have consequences for both commercial and sport fishing.
More rainfall in the spring and less in the summer would change stream flows, potentially damaging habitats for aquatic organisms such as Indiana’s several endangered mussel species.
“Aquatic Ecosystems in a Shifting Indiana Climate,” will be released during a community briefing at 11 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, Sept. 12, in the Conservation Room at Bass Pro Shops, 6425 Daniel Burnham Drive, Portage, Indiana. The report will discuss how changing climate conditions will affect Indiana’s fish population. (Purdue University photo)
“For many animals, climate change is a little like a game of Jenga. Climate change is pulling more and more blocks out of the tower. We don’t know exactly which block will be the last for a particular species of fish or amphibians,” said Jeff Dukes, director of the Purdue Climate Change Research Center. “We’ve already reduced their habitats, and climate change is another challenge. How much change can they take?”
Ecologists and biologists from Purdue, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Ball State University and the University of Notre Dame contributed to the report. Tomas Höök, Purdue professor of fisheries and aquatic sciences and director of Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, is lead author.
The Indiana Climate Change Impacts Assessment (IN CCIA) has compiled the latest scientific research into a series of easily understandable reports about climate change impacts in ten topic areas: climate, health, forest ecosystems, aquatic ecosystems, urban green infrastructure, tourism and recreation, agriculture, water resources, energy, and infrastructure.
The reports that have been previously released are available on the IN CCIA website at http://IndianaClimate.org. For more information about the IN CCIA, go to the website or follow on social media at @PurdueCCRC, #ClimateChange, #INCCIA.
Evolution is often viewed through the lens of thousands of years. But it may have taken humans only a century or so to force evolutionary changes to fish in the Great Lakes, according to a Purdue University report.
Environmental factors over long periods of time often lead to beneficial traits in animals. But Tomas Höök, a professor in the Department of Forestry & Natural Resources at Purdue University and director of Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, and colleagues believe there is evidence of fisheries-induced evolution (FIE) in the Great Lakes.
“Fishing and harvesting creates strong pressure that could select for certain genetic material in a fish population and lead to rapid human-induced evolution of the population,” Höök said.
A review, published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research, presents the case for rapid evolution, including case studies of two important fishery species — yellow perch and lake whitefish.
For yellow perch, Lake Michigan commercial fishing operations in the early 1990s overharvested perch, in particular large female fish. This led to an abundance of male fish as well as smaller females, since they were the most likely to have an opportunity to reproduce.
After a collapse of yellow perch populations, commercial fishing for the species was shut down and recreational angling for the species was restricted. Research shows that yellow perch quickly started to sexually mature later and at larger sizes once they weren’t susceptible to harvest.
“Importantly, this research suggests that FIE can occur rapidly, but that changes are reversible,” wrote the authors, which included Erin Dunlop from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, as well as Zachary Feiner and Höök from Purdue.
Lake whitefish populations have been affected by overfishing and invasive species in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Models suggest that high harvest rates and harvesting before whitefish reach sexual maturation could lead to rapid declines in population and the size at which fish mature.
Höök said fisheries-induced evolution has been widely studied in marine systems, but more needs to be done on freshwater species since many can be important ecologically and commercially.
“We need to assess the potential for fisheries-induced evolution in these systems to better understand the extent to which fishery managers can and should think about FIE when making key management decisions affecting fish populations,” Höök said.
Victoria Wallace is interning with Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) as a recent graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a B.S. in Integrative Biology and a B.A. in Global Studies.
Laying a foundation
On the first day of my internship, I brought a suitcase to work. I was leaving Champaign-Urbana that afternoon to begin a weeklong journey traveling up and down the western coast of Lake Michigan, from Chicago to Sheboygan to Milwaukee. The main event was the 2018 Great Lakes Areas of Concern Conference, held this year in Sheboygan, which was to be an immersive introduction to the themes and issues addressed during my internship.
The next morning, my new supervisor, Caitie Nigrelli, trotted me around the U.S. EPA office in Chicago, introducing me to her colleagues. It was the beginning of a whirlwind week of introductions, and I had to quickly learn to explain who I was and how my work would be relevant to a world I’d only just entered. A world, I came to learn, that was ruled by acronyms.
It quickly became hard for me to explain my internship to friends and family without clarifying at least three or four acronyms—shorthand used so ubiquitously by a small sphere of professionals that they often forget how foreign the strings of letters are to laypeople. And I was not much different when I arrived at this bustling conference in Sheboygan. Even though I studied biology and had been involved in research on aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes as an undergraduate at the University of the Illinois, I had never heard anyone talk about the Areas of Concern. That morning in the EPA office, I even asked a project manager what “AOC” stands for, unaware of just how green I was.
Learning about Areas of Concern
Over the course of my internship, I have come to see this world with much greater clarity, gaining familiarity not just with the terminology, but with many of the people who undertake these massive projects. The Areas of Concern (AOCs for short) are geographic areas, usually rivers and estuaries, throughout the Great Lakes that have undergone serious environmental degradation. Most of them have suffered historically from industrial and municipal pollution, often leaving behind a legacy of sediments containing toxic concentrations of substances such as PCBs, PAHs and heavy metals.
Because of their industrial histories and gradual degradation, the AOCs are also often some of the most economically depressed areas in the region. The list of AOC communities reads almost like a roll call of rust belt cities: Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Mich.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Buffalo, N.Y.; Erie, Pa.; and Gary, Ind., all lie near or within Areas of Concern. And that’s just six of the 43 AOCs.
New restaurants, shops, condos and boat slips line the Sheboygan River.
One of those 43 is the Sheboygan River AOC, a location specifically chosen for the conference not because of the extent of its blight, but for the significance of its transformation. New development, an active harbor and a slew of recreational opportunities are a testament to the work of the AOC specialists—and to the social value of restoring a degraded resource. This is the final chapter of AOC restoration, when the community regains access to a waterfront it had turned its back on, sees its beauty and its potential, and adopts practices that promote its long-term health.
Wallace helped fourth grade students from East Chicago, Ind. discover the oddities and marvels of nature at the Grand Calumet Stewardship Day at a macroinvertebrate station.
After the crucible that was the AOC conference, I went on to see the Milwaukee Estuary AOC, helped facilitate a stewardship event in the Grand Calumet River AOC, and toured two sites in the infamous Cuyahoga River AOC. I’ve also produced outreach materials for the Muskegon Lake and St. Louis River AOCs. Most importantly, I’ve worked with Caitie to design a research project to better understand the social transformation after the remediation and restoration work is done. It’s being dubbed “revitalization” in the AOC world, and it’s changing how we think about environmental restoration.
If restoring a river can revitalize a community, what does that mean for the future of the Great Lakes? Can the history of exploitation be replaced with a narrative of stewardship, growth, and mutual benefit? I think that there’s a chance it can, but there needs to be a concerted effort. The research I’ve helped develop will push things in that direction by asking the AOC world to confront the question, “Who are we doing all of this for?” And, as a newly-minted environmental scientist, that’s certainly a question I’ll keep in mind as my career develops and matures.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University scientists led a comprehensive analysis of research concerning the effects of microplastics on aquatic life, with the results showing widely different impacts among different types of animals. Strong negative effects were particularly apparent for small animals, such as larval fish and zooplankton, a source of food for many species, suggesting serious potential consequences that could ripple throughout the food web.
Tomas Höök, an associate professor in Purdue University’s Department of Forestry and Natural Resources and director of the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program, led a team that designed a meta-analysis of research related to the effects of microplastics on aquatic life. The analysis, published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, used results from 43 other studies that each considered the effects of microplastics on consumption of food, growth, reproduction, and/or survival of aquatic animals. The analysis mathematically calculated one or more effect size(s) for each study, then those effects were combined statistically to understand the big-picture effect on animals. The animals included in this study were all aquatic but ranged from fish to mussels to sea urchins to worms.
The most significant findings included:
* Considering all effect sizes together, on average, exposure to microplastics negatively affects consumption, growth and survival of aquatic animals.
* However, the results are highly varied and not all groups of animals were affected in the same ways.
* Microplastics significantly reduced growth, reproduction and survival of zooplankton.
* When exposed to microplastics, larval and juvenile fish see negative effects on natural consumption of other foods.
“One of the types of organisms that seems to be affected is crustacean zooplankton, which are the main prey for many small fishes,” said Höök, whose findings were published in the journal Science of the Total Environment. “The fact that these very small organisms are consuming these microplastics, altering their growth, reproduction and survival, means there could be consequences up the food web. If zooplankton numbers decline, there may be less food available for organisms at higher trophic levels.”
Microplastics, small pieces of the material less than 5 millimeters in size, have been found in waters and soils in and around all seven continents. They come from a wide variety of sources, including broken-down food and drink containers, fibers from synthetic clothing, industrial waste and some beauty products.
Many organizations and governments have tried to reduce the amount of plastic pollution reaching water and wildlife, but the effects these microplastics are having on the range of aquatic life hasn’t been clear. Purdue’s meta-analysis puts all the current, applicable research into perspective.
“Our results most strongly support the notion that exposure to microplastics leads to negative effects on consumption of aquatic organisms, with less compelling and consistent evidence that growth, reproduction or survival of aquatic organisms is negatively affected by exposure to microplastics,” the authors find.
Carolyn Foley, a research associate in Purdue’s Department of Natural Resources and research coordinator for Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, said few of the studies analyzed included microplastic fibers, the small pieces of plastic that break away from larger pieces. That might be an area to focus future research. She also suggested that while the effects on upper-level functions, such as reproduction and survival, were highly variable, there isn’t a similar summary of research examining how microplastics might be altering aquatic life in less perceptible ways.
“If microplastics aren’t having immediate effects on these upper-level functions, maybe there are less-obvious and cumulative negative impacts,” said Foley, who is the lead author of the paper. “It may be more important to look at finer-level effects, including molecular-level effects.”
The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program and Purdue’s Department of Forestry and Natural Resources funded the research.
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is hiring a new outreach program leader to help connect our outreach specialists, scientists, and communities, with the goal of improving ecological, economic, and societal resilience in the two-state region.
IISG supports over 30 outreach specialists, communicators, educators, and administrators conducting environmental and natural resources outreach on a number of critical issues at local, regional, and national scales. The outreach program leader will be responsible for the coordination, development, expansion, and delivery of science-based programs that empower communities and people to make informed natural resource decisions.
This is a full-time academic position at the University of Illinois that will either be housed on campus in Urbana or in Chicago.
For more information about specific responsibilities, qualifications and the application process, visit the posting on the University of Illinois jobs board.