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Sea Grant-supported research publications have local to global impact

December 8th, 2020 by

Sea Grant-supported research is consistently published in high quality journals and is highly cited in local, regional and international publications, according to a recent study. This assessment of over 6,500 peer-reviewed publications from 2001-2015 also shows that while Sea Grant research projects typically address local issues, the work is often cited well beyond that, in fact, sometimes worldwide.

The Sea Grant program, which was established by Congress in 1966 to enhance the practical use and conservation of coastal, marine and Great Lakes resources, accomplishes its mission with a three-pronged approach focused on research, outreach and education. At a federal level, Sea Grant is part of NOAA and local programs are typically situated in land-grant universities in coastal states.

With more than a third of program resources dedicated to fund research, a team of scientists came together to assess the impact of that work. The researchers were Carolyn Foley, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant research coordinator, Mona Behl, Georgia Sea Grant associate director and Rebecca Briggs, National Sea Grant Office research coordinator.

They used well-established tools to analyze the types of journals that have published Sea Grant research, the frequency these articles are referenced by other researchers, and, in a limited scope, the geographic range of these citations.

Sea Grant research is consistently published in a range of journals, from “high impact” prestigious publications to regional or state journals.

“The diversity of journals in which Sea Grant-supported research is published suggests that these researchers are advancing the program’s goals—to share timely results with those who stand to benefit most from them,” said Foley.

From 2001 to 2015, Sea Grant-supported publications have been steadily cited, with the oldest publications more than 43,000 times. This indicates that over time, Sea Grant publications are consistently consulted by other scientists to support their research, benefitting both local stakeholders and the broader scientific community. Analysis of the geographic reach of the two most frequently-cited articles—both over 5,000 times—revealed that the articles have been informing work done by scientists around the world.

In addition, by analyzing commonly used words in article titles, the research team found further indication of the place-based aspect of Sea Grant supported projects as well as the applied nature of the work. This was illustrated through the frequent use of the words management, use and effect, for example.

“Sea Grant is well known for funding research topics in their infancy—for example, harmful algal blooms, aquatic invasive species, and microplastics—and investigating causes and supporting stakeholder needs at the local level before they because widespread topics of focus,” said Foley.

 


Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a part of University of Illinois Extension and Purdue Extension.

 

Writer: Irene Miles
Contact: Carolyn Foley

Anglers and other lake enthusiasts can explore Lake Michigan’s health status online

December 18th, 2019 by

Lake Michigan gets regular health checkups, but like many people, it sometimes needs special monitoring or scanning to get to the bottom of symptoms or concerns. The latest results from some of these tests and evaluations are now available in an Environmental Systems Research Institute Story Map, Lake Michigan Health: A Deeper Dive.

The Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative (CSMI) intensive examination of Lake Michigan occurs every five years through an initiative that rotates around the Great Lakes—scientists in the region coordinate their efforts to answer critical questions and fill science information gaps for each lake. 

Each year since 2002, through CSMI, multiple federal, provincial, state, and university scientists have joined forces on one of the Great Lakes to take part in coordinated research. This binational program is organized through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes National Program Office and Environment and Climate Change Canada in support of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement Science Annex.

Unlike your medical records, information on the health of Lake Michigan is available to everyone, including environmental managers, scientists, educators, students, boaters, anglers and lake enthusiasts in general. On the story map, information is presented through interactive graphics, easy-to-understand diagrams and photos of science in action.

Lake Michigan Food Web: Changes throughout History

“Having this straight-forward tool that helps us explain to anglers and other stakeholders how bottom-up factors affect fish populations is a great thing and very timely, given the changing Lake Michigan ecosystem,” said Vic Santucci, Lake Michigan program manager, Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Lake Michigan: A Deeper Dive, which was developed by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, includes a brief history of the lake as well as information on several key areas of study from 2015—Lake Michigan’s most recent CSMI field year focusing on the lower food web, prey fish and contaminants.

The invasive quagga mussels featured prominently in the scientists’ reports. They found that their lakewide numbers have declined, but that quagga biomass has increased as mussels age and grow larger. In deeper parts of the lake, quagga mussel populations increased between 2010 and 2015.

One way that scientists can assess the number of quagga mussels on the lake bottom is using a towed benthic sled, which, equipped with a camera, visually records mussel distribution and numbers at the bottom of the lake. While visiting the CSMI story map, you can ride along on the benthic sled and see what the scientists saw. Also, Lake Michigan: A Deeper Dive provides graphic illustrations of how the lake food web has changed since the influx of invasive species.

Another key finding is that, in general, larval fish are growing about half as fast as they did before quagga mussels were established in the early 2000s. In fact, quagga mussels, by filtering large amounts of plankton, may be having a negative impact on fish production.

Next year, CSMI scientists will once again gather on Lake Michigan for monitoring and testing to assess the health of the lake. To set 2020’s research priorities, scientists and resource managers came together in 2018 to discuss the latest findings and to define critical data needs. Over the next couple of years, scientists will report the results of their fieldwork and the CSMI story map will be updated with information from this upcoming Lake Michigan checkup.

This project was supported by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.


Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a part of University of Illinois Extension and Purdue Extension.

 

Writer: Irene Miles, 217.333.8055, miles@illinois.edu

Videographer: Hope Charters, 765.494.1614, hope@purdue.edu

Contacts (CSMI): Paris Collingsworth, Carolyn Foley

Contacts (Story Map): Kristin TePas, Allison Neubauer

IISG expands funding on ‘Persistent Organic Pollutants on Microplastics’ research

January 22nd, 2019 by

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center has released information about additional IISG funding for researcher John Scott to expand a microplastics research project to include per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

Excerpt: “With new funding from Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) researcher John Scott and his team will be able to expand their research to include more environmental contaminants. With their current project on persistent organic pollutants in Lake Muskegon, they are studying the effects of microplastic type and deployment time in the sediments and the water column on sorption of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) to the microplastic particles.”

Full URL – “Persistent Organic Pollutants on Microplastics Project expanded to include per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances” by Elizabeth Meschewski”: https://blog.istc.illinois.edu/2018/11/12/persistent-organic-pollutants-on-microplastics-project-expanded-to-include-per-and-polyfluoroalkyl-substances/

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant funds aquaculture, invasive species, pollution projects

December 11th, 2018 by

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) is excited to announce the funding of five new Discovery Projects. These small, one-year projects help researchers achieve bigger and better things, such as larger grants to study critical questions, providing proof of concepts that can be scaled up to support labs or businesses, or generating tools to help communities make the best use of available information. The five projects IISG began funding in 2018 address aquaculture, aquatic invasive species and pollution.

“These five new research projects are asking questions that are highly relevant to aquatic systems in Illinois, Indiana, Lake Michigan and the broader Great Lakes region,” said IISG Director Tomas Höök. “We have great hopes that these Discovery Projects will indeed springboard their principal investigators to other opportunities and outcomes.”

Aquaculture
Karolina Kwasek of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale will explore whether invasive Asian carp could be used to feed very young largemouth bass raised in aquaculture facilities. Largemouth bass are a popular species across the country, but their high protein requirements make them tricky to rear. Kwasek hopes this novel use of Asian carp may support aquaculture growers who wish to raise largemouth bass.

Invasive Species
Eric Larson of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will use a relatively new concept, that of an avatar species, to predict where a new invasive species might establish. He will use the red swamp crayfish, which is already found in the Great Lakes basin, as an avatar to predict where another potential invader, Chelax destructor, might successfully establish. If successful, this method could potentially be applied to other potential invaders, including fish, aquatic plants, and other macroinvertebrates.

Pollution
Jen Fisher of Indiana University Northwest will investigate whether pollution from failing septic systems might be affecting microbial communities on beach sand, ultimately posing a risk to human health. Her work will be focused in northeast Indiana.

An Li of the University of Illinois at Chicago will assess presence of microplastics in Lake Michigan sediments using samples that have been previously collected and analyzed for other contaminants. Through this work, she hopes to generate protocols that can be applied to sediments in any aquatic system.

John Scott of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center will examine whether microplastics help introduce per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the lower levels of aquatic food webs. His timely work has the potential to affect fish consumption advisories, if it seems likely that PFAS can be transferred up the food web.

Funds available to support collaborative research on Lake Michigan coastal dynamics

November 1st, 2018 by

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.

More Information

Deadline

  • Pre-proposals are due by 3pm CST (4pm EST) Friday, January 11, 2019.

Questions

For more information, Illinois and Indiana partners can contact Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Research Coordinator Carolyn Foley (cfoley@purdue.edu).

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 (cfoley@purdue.edu), 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.

Weathering the Storms: How one team of Illinois researchers is addressing urban flooding

October 29th, 2018 by

Many Chicago communities have issues with flooding after storms. Abigail Bobrow of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has written and photographed a piece featuring first-hand stories of home flooding, a history of Chicago’s changing landscape attempting to prevent stormwater issues, and the research that is being done to help solve the problem. Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant has funded some of this research. Below is an excerpt of the full story.

City officials and organizations are very aware of the condition James and thousands of other Chicagoans find themselves in every time it rains.

In fact, for its entire 180-year existence, the city has been shifting, manipulating, and even fighting against the flow of water to prevent not only surface flooding and the spread of disease, but also the contamination of Chicago’s freshwater drinking supply, Lake Michigan.

This issue has literally shaped the city of Chicago.

Mary Pat McGuire, an Illinois landscape architecture professor with homes in Urbana and Chicago, is joining the efforts to address urban flooding. With funding from Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, a land-grant university program that focuses on coastal community issues, she and her graduate student, Jinyu Shen, are leading an ambitious research project looking at how to sustainably design stormwater solutions in the Chicago region—above and below ground.

Mary Pat’s attention is on ecological sustainability, that is, creating a way for stormwater to infiltrate and be absorbed by the ground in a way that is nourishing for the city, not crippling. Mary Pat and her interdisciplinary team of landscape architects, geologists, and civil engineers from the university are focusing on the southern part of the Chicago landscape, an area where fewer projects like this are taking place.

Climate change poses uncertain future for Indiana’s aquatic habitats

September 12th, 2018 by

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 report can be found at: https://purdue.ag/aquaticreport
A video highlighting key findings of the report can be found at: https://youtu.be/y4IBO-jeIMc

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, bwallhei@purdue.edu

Sources: Jeff Dukes, 765-496-3662, jsdukes@purdue.edu
Tomas Höök, 765-496-6799, thook@purdue.edu
Carolyn Foley, cfoley@purdue.edu

Climate change creates uncertainty for Indiana’s aquatic animals, plants

September 6th, 2018 by

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.

dead fish floating

“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.

 

Writer: Brian Wallheimer, 765-532-0233, bwallhei@purdue.edu

Source: Jeff Dukes, 765-496-3662, jsdukes@purdue.edu

Purdue Agricultural Communications: (765) 494-8415; Maureen Manier, Department Head, mmanier@purdue.edu

Fishing may lead to rapid changes in Great Lakes fish

August 29th, 2018 by

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.

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