Scientists from Central Michigan University’s Institute for Great Lakes Research (IGLR) are expanding their basin-wide Great Lakes coastal wetlands monitoring program with help from grant funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wisconsin and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant programs. The program is one part of a collaborative project that brings together researchers from IGLR, Notre Dame, and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. The results will help natural resource managers better target protection and restoration efforts.
They also will be able to help assess the importance of coastal wetlands as they relate to the food web of the Great Lakes ecosystem by studying otoliths, or fish ear bones, to determine where fish are obtaining energy for growth.
Otoliths grow daily, similar to rings found in the trunk of a tree. With the use of a precise laser beam, IGLR researchers can sample the chemical composition of targeted areas of the otoliths and relate this “chemical fingerprint” to specific coastal wetlands, even when fish are caught in the open water of the Great Lakes, far from any wetlands.
It is hoped that this research will result in a long-term, sustainable monitoring program aimed at restoring and protecting Great Lakes coastal wetlands, which provide a critical habitat for many species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, and an essential spawning and nursery habitat for many fish species of ecological and economical importance to Michigan’s $7.5 billion commercial and sports fishing industry. Read more.
The research project is one of three awarded a combined total of $380,000 from IISG earlier this year. Additional projects seek to uncover the connections between sediment removal projects and a community’s ability to weather environmental hazards and identify why people adopt stormwater management practices.
And IISG continues to fund strong research projects like these. In fact, last month we announced a new funding opportunity for research addressing key economic planning questions facing the Great Lakes region. Researchers may request up to $96,000 for 18 months. Proposals are due by 5 pm CST on Nov. 17, 2014. Read the full RFP for information on project and application requirements.