UpClose: An insider’s view of plastic pollution researchDecember 14th, 2015 by iisg_superadmin
Ohio students take their stewardship to a national parkJune 1st, 2015 by iisg_superadmin
During the summer of 2014 sixteen science teachers from all around the Great Lakes region spent a week on board the U.S. E.P.A ship R/V Lake Guardian on Lake Erie as part of the Shipboard and Shoreline Science Workshop. Sponsored by the Center for Great Lakes Literacy, Ohio Sea Grant, Pennsylvania Sea Grant, and the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, teachers were connected with scientists in first hand explorations of the ecology, geology, and bio-geochemical processes of Lake Erie.
problem in the Cuyahoga River watershed, invasive species are now the real concern.
In the news: Native mussels are surviving the zebra mussel invasionOctober 16th, 2014 by iisg_superadmin
Average density of native mussels before the arrival of zebra mussels was two per square meter in Lake St. Clair. By 1990, zebra mussel density was at 1,600 per square meter.
“By 1992, native mussel populations are almost gone from the southeastern portion of the lake and declining rapidly in the northwestern portion of the lake,” said [Dave] Zanatta, [a biologist at Central Michigan University].
By 1994, there were almost no native mussels left in the lake, with zebra now at 3,000+ per square meter.
“But there was reason for hope,” said Zanatta. “Remnant populations of native mussels were beginning to be found in coastal wetlands in western Lake Erie in the late 1990s.”
Zanatta’s research adds further evidence that progress continues to be made on one of the impairments of the St. Clair River – the degradation of fish and wildlife habitat – that led to its classification as an environmental Area of Concern in 1985.
His work also sheds light on the complex ecological impacts of invasive species generally.
With some environmental observers predicting a doomsday scenario for native game fish if Asian carp are able to establish themselves in the Great Lakes, for example, Zanatta’s mussel research suggests that the outlook for native fish might be significantly more positive than forecasts suggest.
To read the full article, click on the link above.
**Photo of zebra mussels courtesy of Michigan Sea Grant.
In the news: Grass carp may be the Asian carp most likely to establish in Lake ErieSeptember 15th, 2014 by iisg_superadmin
When researchers and the media talk about Asian carp reaching the Great Lakes, they are typically referring to bighead and silver carp, the two voracious phytoplankton eaters that are wreaking havoc in places like the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. But the species most likely to establish in Lake Erie may actually be a third member of the Asian carp family: grass carp.
From The Voice:
“Grass carp are a different kind of fish and pose different kinds of risk than bighead and silver carp,” said Jeff Tyson, administrator of the Lake Erie Fisheries Program Administrator for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Tyson addressed a meeting of environmental writers at Ohio State University’s Stone Lab in Lake Erie on Aug. 18. “We know we have some grass carp in the system. Grass carp impact the system through their impacts on structure and vegetation. They consume huge amounts of vegetation.”
Grass carp could put Lake Erie at risk “by damaging habitats and damaging fish in communities given the documented reproduction of grass carp in large rivers,” according to the Ohio Asian Carp Tactical Plan, 2014-2020. “Grass carp can also decimate submersed aquatic vegetation that is critical to migrating waterfowl and other water birds.” Read more.
**Photo courtesy of Eric Engbretson, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bugwood.org.
Why are algal bloom problems growing?August 13th, 2014 by iisg_superadmin
The recent contamination of drinking water in Toledo, Ohio brought the risks of algal blooms center stage and raised serious concerns for the future. Questions on everybody’s mind are what are toxic algal blooms, what causes them, and what can we do? Michael Brennan, IISG’s water quality outreach specialist, has some answers:
UpClose with Steve MauroAugust 6th, 2014 by iisg_superadmin
In the news: Asian carp could be approaching Lake ErieApril 28th, 2014 by iisg_superadmin
“Multiple water samples taken from the Muskingum River last fall carried the environmental signature of bighead carp, an invasive species threatening the ecosystem of the Great Lakes. A report released Friday by the Nature Conservancy — in conjunction with the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and researchers from Central Michigan University — indicated 10 of the 222 samples from the river tested positive for bighead carp eDNA.Asian carp have been established in the Ohio River for more than a decade, but these eDNA results indicate the fish could be present in the Muskingum some 80 miles north of where the Muskingum joins the Ohio at Marietta.The Muskingum has a series of old dams and deteriorating locks, but if the genetic evidence is accurate, those have not provided a significant impediment to the carp moving up the river system.”
In the news: Cause of Lake Erie’s algae becoming clearerApril 16th, 2014 by iisg_superadmin
“Algal blooms and dead zones in Lake Erie were severe during the 1960s, caused primarily by large releases of phosphorus from sewage and industrial plants. The 1972 federal Clean Water Act and the 1978 bi-national Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement led to dramatic reductions in phosphorus from these sources and a rapid improvement in water quality.Lake Erie, however, saw a reemergence of the algal blooms and the growth of the dead zone in the mid-1990s, and the problems are worsening. In 2011, for example, Lake Erie experienced its most severe bloom of toxic algae on record. Last fall a toxic algal bloom in the lake forced officials to shut off a public water supply system in Ohio.The new studies, part of the Ecological Forecasting (EcoFore) Lake Erie project led by researchers at the University of Michigan, found that the current targets to reduce phosphorus to alleviate algal blooms in Lake Erie may not be low enough to revive the dead zone. That conclusion informed the International Joint Commission’s recommendations in February for improving Lake Erie’s water quality.The findings, and those of other studies from across the Great Lakes region, are delivering an ever clearer picture of the specific causes of nonpoint phosphorus runoff, algal blooms, and dead zones. The basic drivers of these problems are no longer unknown. The new research fills a critical void in information that has been often cited as a reason that strict regulations on nonpoint pollution sources, including agriculture, were not regulated under the 1972 federal Clean Water Act.”
In the news: Grass carp found to be making their way into the Great LakesMarch 12th, 2014 by iisg_superadmin
“Grass carp, a plant-eating species of the invasive Asian carp family, have also been found spawning in Lake Erie and its many tributaries…Though fears over invading Asian carp have largely centered on bighead and silver carp — which gulp down large amounts of plankton, the all-important food-source foundation for a healthy aquatic ecosystem — the new study suggests conservationists should pay attention to grass carp too.Grasses are also an important nutritional source for native fish species, and as its name suggests, grass carp could prove detrimental in that department.The U.S. government has already spent upwards of $200 million trying to slow the encroachment of Asian carp into the Great Lakes. Many worry their growing presence will turn the Great Lakes into one giant carp pond — ruining ecological diversity and the multi-billion dollar fishing industry in the region. Regional authorities remain in discussion with federal agencies over further mitigation efforts.”
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