Category:

Funding opportunity open for 2024-25 research projects

November 29th, 2022 by

The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program (IISG) anticipates having $800,000 to invest in promising research projects relevant to southern Lake Michigan and surrounding coastal communities in northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana. Work is to be completed in the 2024-25 biennium. Work can be conducted outside of the geographic area outlined above provided applicants make a compelling case for why their work is relevant to southern Lake Michigan and surrounding coastal communities.

For the 2024–25 cycle, IISG will prioritize funding projects with outcomes that demonstrate potential to benefit underserved communities in the southern Lake Michigan region. Benefits may include but are not limited to improved quality of life, job training and student opportunities, and increased access to beneficial services or information.

IISG encourages submissions by early career scientists and/or persons who have partnered with, or plan to mentor, early career scientists. IISG also encourages all applicants to make research plans such that their work will effectively center on underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, people with disabilities, and/or people from economically or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds that have limited their ability to pursue a career in STEM.

Eligibility

Investigators from educational or research institutions including universities, museums, and NGOs, are eligible to serve as PI for these funds. Priority will be given to Illinois- and Indiana-based researchers. Researchers from other states are welcome to apply but proposed work must demonstrate how it will benefit the mission of IISG and/or meet research priorities. 

Research Topics

Projects should propose to answer a clear research question or set of related questions, and should demonstrate fit with the IISG strategic plan. Five areas are of special interest for the 2024-25 funding cycle:

  • Improving water safety, with a goal of reducing the number of drownings in Lake
    Michigan.
  • Adapting to changing lake levels in the southern Lake Michigan region in support of
    healthy coastal ecosystems and resilient communities and economies.
  • Better understanding contaminant levels in fish or shellfish that are or can be used for food. These may include Lake Michigan or tributary fish caught for subsistence fishing or Illinois- or Indiana-farm raised fish and shellfish. Contaminants to explore include but are not limited to legacy contaminants, contaminants of emerging concern, and toxic cyanobacteria from algal blooms (e.g., in nearshore regions; in ponds where fish or shellfish are raised).
  • Addressing environmental justice concerns associated with restoration of degraded
    southern Lake Michigan coastal sites (e.g., decommissioned power plants, industrial
    parks).
  • Exploring economic or legal barriers to production of Illinois- and/or Indiana-grown
    fish or shellfish (e.g., processing of organisms to be sold at restaurants, permitting or
    acquisition of resources to expand facilities, access to skilled laborers).

Additional topic areas of interest include broader aquaculture research, aquatic invasive species, community climate readiness, fisheries, healthy waters and pollution prevention, recreation and tourism, stormwater and green infrastructure, shoreline erosion, sustainable community planning, and water supply. All research projects should fit at least one of these topic areas.

Preproposal Submission

Prospective PIs must submit a preproposal to be considered for funding. Applicants should submit materials via https://esg.iiseagrant.org/ by 11:59 p.m. Central time on February 6, 2023. Applications should be submitted to the “IL-IN SG 2023 2-Year Research Competition”. Late applications will not be accepted unless the applicant has contacted IISG staff members before the deadline to make them aware of potential issues, (e.g., computer, power, or internet issues). IISG reserves the right to refuse late applications if the program determines that individual circumstances do not warrant an extension. IISG staff members will only be available to answer questions until 5:00 pm Central time on February 6, 2023.

The full RFP can be found at https://iiseagrant.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/IISG-RFP-2022.pdf. Questions regarding eligibility or submission requirements may be directed to Carolyn Foley at cfoley@purdue.edu or by phone at 765-494-3601.

 


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

Research Q&A with Katey Strailey: How stream restoration structures affect fish

August 17th, 2022 by

In this abbreviated interview, Research Coordinator Carolyn Foley and Communication Associate Sarah Gediman ask doctoral candidate Katey Strailey about her Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant-funded work. A researcher in the River and Landscape Systems Research Group at University of Illinois, Strailey is looking at how restoration structures in streams change turbulence, or flow of water, and what effects those changes have on fish.


When restoring streams, people may add physical structures as habitat to help fish, but relatively little is know about which structures are most beneficial. Doctoral candidate Katey Strailey is exploring this question using fish physiology, some really cool technology, and impressive surgical skills. 

Q: Why did you choose to pursue this research?

A: Freshwater fish are some of the most endangered vertebrates on the planet. 40-50% of freshwater fish are endangered, and river fish have it particularly bad. Rivers are some of the most altered ecosystem types on the planet, which can cause fish to die or leave.

For centuries, humans have used rivers for hydropower, irrigation, drinking water, and transportation. While we (humans) do a lot of things that make it difficult for organisms to live there, we also try to restore the systems.

A stream where equipment to measure flow and turbulence has been installed. (Photo courtesy of Katey Strailey)

Q: How can restoration help?

A: Although we can’t always reverse all the damage, we hope that restoration can improve in-stream habitat, increase water quality, and prevent excessive erosion of stream banks. But the jury is still out on how effective current restoration strategies actually are in terms of ecological outcomes. In the U.S. alone, it’s estimated that more than $1 billion is spent on river restoration every year, and so we wanted to explore the how it’s helping question a bit more. 

Q: For those of us who don’t know much about stream restoration, what new information will your research contribute to the discipline?

Our research focuses on understanding what makes certain turbulence beneficial or harmful for fish. Turbulence is the swirling, chaotic flow you see when you look at a river. That chaos can make it harder for fish to swim, but some types of turbulence actually help fish. Different structures, as the flowing water moves around them, cause different kinds of turbulence. Since structures are often placed in rivers or streams with a goal of helping fish, we need to be sure that fish actually want to be by them, and that they’re not driven away by them.  

One issue with this type of research is that, between limited funding and short funding timelines, it’s really common for people to do a project, monitor it for a year or two, and then move on. But we know that it can take 10-15 years to see the effects a single project has on fish populations. This is where studying fish physiology has an advantage—we can use short-term experiments to understand how restoration actions directly affect individual fish. When you can measure a fish’s oxygen consumption before and after placing an object in the water, and immediately calculate the difference, it’s easier to establish that causal link. It can also hint at how fish might be affected over the long term. So, with the information we generate, we want to develop a tool that can help scientists and practitioners create restoration plans that will most benefit the fish in streams that are being restored.

Q: What types of structures do you use to test fish?

Structures in a stream, whether they be natural or designed and placed by people, are often fairly complex. But for the purposes of our experiments, we break them down to basic components. An example is what we refer to as “large woody debris”, which can be logs, branches, and root wads tangled up together. To test how they might affect fish, we can break them down to the characteristics of their components: how big might a branch be? What is its diameter? How is it oriented in the flow?

Smallmouth bass in a tank of clear water with vertical cylinder side view

A smallmouth bass is held in a tank during experiments to understand how turbulence around structures affects fish. (Photo courtesy of Katey Strailey)

In my work, I place cylinders that vary by diameter and orientation into tanks to explore how the basic components of structures change the flow. This allows me to very finely link fish responses and flow characteristics to the cylinder and orientation I’m using. For example, lunkers are popular hiding spots for many fish; they look like small wooden caves in the riverbank. Because the overhead components do not affect the flow, we can simulate these structures in our lab experiments using vertical cylinders, then assess their unique turbulence. We can also assess structures found in other natural habitats, such as riffles, that are often incorporated into restoration projects.

Q: What are the mechanics of your experiment?

I honestly think I get to do really cool stuff! Essentially what we’re doing is measuring the decline of oxygen in water as fish do their thing (swim). How much oxygen a fish uses as it swims is linked with how much energy it’s using. By measuring the oxygen they use, we also know how hard they’re working and how much energy they’re using to swim. The catch with oxygen consumption is that with fish, it has to be measured in a completely closed environment with a limited amount of water. If you have too much water, open to the environment, you can’t really know how much of that oxygen is being used by the fish specifically. I use what’s essentially a fish treadmill to measure the oxygen they use: it looks like a little racetrack, the fish hangs out in one section of this racetrack, and the flow recirculates so they can keep swimming while staying in place.

Oxygen consumption acceleration figure

Katey Strailey uses graphs like this to understand how a fish’s oxygen use and their acceleration are related. (Graphic courtesy of Katey Strailey)

Since I can only directly measure this in the fish treadmill, if I want to test them in other environments I have to use a proxy. For my research, that proxy is acceleration. While they’re swimming in the treadmill and I’m measuring the oxygen use, I also measure their acceleration using an accelerometer. This same type of technology is used in smartphones to tell if you’re holding the phone upright or on its side.

Q: How exactly do you use an accelerometer with the fish?

A: I do fish surgeries! I just take these tiny accelerometers and slip them into the fish and let them recover. My fish are very resilient and recover quickly – within minutes, they’re back swimming with their fish buddies. I’ve done well over 100 surgeries and I’ve never lost a fish, ever. When the accelerometer is in a fish and can communicate with a receiver I have, I can put the fish in any kind of environment and then estimate how much energy they’re using to swim, thanks to the link to the fish treadmill that we already talked about.

Rainbow trout in a tank of clear water with a respirometer

A rainbow trout is held in a tank while oxygen and acceleration are measured. (Photo courtesy of Katey Strailey)

Q: What gets you most excited about this project?

A: We aren’t just sticking with the lab! We are moving towards real world and real river environments. Other studies have looked at the interactions between fish and turbulence, but it oftentimes comes from an interesting novelty angle. There’s not much research that applies this to a conservation or restoration context. Our ultimate goal here is to find new tools, or something that can complement other methods, to help refine best practices during restoration efforts.

Researchers repair field enclosures. These help understand effects of river and stream restoration on fish. (Photo courtesy of Katey Strailey)

Q: What species do you use?

A: I’ve used two species: rainbow trout and smallmouth bass. The rainbow trout are the ideal species for any study looking at fish and turbulence because of their body shape, which is sort of narrow like salmon and other fish that are raised in hatcheries and then released into streams that feed Lake Michigan.

Another thing I am excited about is that when I was doing my large-scale lab experiments, a lot of my fish would go behind an object oriented vertically in the water. The fish position their bodies so that when a vortex of turbulence comes towards them, their body takes advantage of it and propels them forward into the turbulence. Some fish have this great body shape that can swim upstream without exerting energy. It looked like the smallmouth bass may have done that, but I need to do more trials.

 

Strailey’s research is a highly collaborative effort across the University of Illinois that includes Cory Suski from Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, Piotr Cienciala and Bruce Rhoads from Geography and Geographic Information Systems, and Rafael Tinoco from Civil and Environmental Engineering. You can learn more about the exciting research that Katey is conducting by following @_FishFizz, @Piotr_Cienciala, and @rafaelotinoco on Twitter, or by exploring this entry in the IISG Research Project Database: https://iiseagrant.org/research-project/investigating-fish-energy-use-and-swimming-behavior-in-turbulent-flows-guiding-restoration-of-lake-michigan-tributaries/. This abbreviated transcript was edited for length and clarity.


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

 

Contacts:
Katey Strailey, ks26@illinois.edu
Carolyn Foley

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

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