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Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

February 2012 Activity Highlights
Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
La Crosse, Wisconsin

Topics covered in the February activity report:

Aquatic Ecosystem Health

AQUI-S® 20E, Immediate Release Aquatic Sedative

  • UMESC received notification from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the agency concurred with information UMESC submitted related to the development of an immediate-release sedative for fish. Currently, tricaine methanesulfonate (a.k.a., MS 222) is the most commonly used fish sedative. Unfortunately, fish sedated with MS 222 must be withheld from possible human consumption for 21 days after sedation. For natural resource agencies that wish to sedate fish and return them to the wild after activities like electrofishing, the development of an immediate-release sedative is a high priority. UMESC requested the FDA consider using the Acute Reference Dose (ARfD), rather than the traditional Acceptable Daily Intake calculations, when determining the level of residues of immediate-release sedatives in fish that are safe for human consumption. The ARfD calculation assumes that consumption of tissue containing the residues is a rare occurrence - UMESC summarized information describing the risk of fish capture and sedation by natural resource agencies and the risk of an angler capturing and consuming a recently sedated fish. Though used to model the risk of human consumption of drug residues remaining in injection sites in large animals, this represents the first application of the ARfD calculation in fish. For more information contact Mark Gaikowski,

Meetings and Presentations

  • Maren Tuttle-Lau, and Steve Redman participated in the Mid-continent Warmwater Fish Culture Workshop in Overland Park, KS, February 6-8. This annual workshop rotates to a different mid-western state each year and provides a forum for the exchange of up-to-date information among personnel from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state department of natural resource hatchery programs, researchers, and private aquaculture producers. Presentations include;
    • “Aquaculture Drug Approval Updates and Future Plans,” by Maren Tuttle-Lau, Susan Schleis, and Mark Gaikowski.
    • “The Life and Times of a Research Fish Culturist or You Want How Many, When?” by Steve Redman.
  • Mark Gaikowski was invited to present a summary of UMESC’s aquatic invasive species research projects, at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Annual Meeting of Biologists, February 7-8, in Tomahawk, WI.
  • Mark Gaikowski participated in Aquaculture America 2012, February 29-March 2 in Las Vegas, NV. While at the meeting, Gaikowski;
    • Represented USGS at a meeting of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Drug Approval Working Group
    • Participated in a Federal Agency Town Hall Meeting
    • Presented data from a study conducted with tilapia treated with florfenicol, a broad spectrum antibacterial agent used to control various susceptible pathogens in a variety of commercially important freshwater and marine fish. Specifically, Gaikowski described the nontarget effects of florfenicol in treated tilapia.
    • Presented human food safety data describing UMESC's efforts to gain U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of an immediate-release sedative for freshwater finfish. The immediate release sedative would give fishery managers a highly sought after tool that would allow managers to sedate fish for ease of handling, then immediately release the fish.
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Aquatic Invasive Species – Asian Carp

Other – Mobile Field Laboratory

  • Jim Luoma traveled to Elkhart, IN to inspect and approve UMESC’s new mobile wet lab research trailer that is in the final stage of production. The new trailer will expand UMESC’s research capabilities by allowing scientists to mobilize at remote field locations and utilize a self-contained system to conduct replicated experiments in test tanks using water and animals collected onsite. UMESC scientists are planning to utilize the research trailer to conduct field trials with a candidate control agent for zebra mussels, and a toxicant incorporated micro-particle control agent for Asian carp.
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Aquatic Invasive Species – Sea Lamprey

Meetings and Presentations

  • Terrance Hubert and Michael Boogaard attended the Great Lakes Fishery Commission Lampricide Control Task Force Meeting February 8-9 in Traverse City, MI. The meeting was held to discuss new research needs, and provide updates on technical assistance projects conducted by UMESC in support of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission's Integrated Management of Sea Lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) Control Program.
  • Jane Rivera give a presentation on federal and state biopesticide requirements for sea lamprey pheromone experimental use permits and registration in the United States and Canada, at the biannual Great Lakes Fishery Commission's (GLFC) Reproduction Reduction Task Force meeting, February 21-22 in Anne Arbor, MI. The task force coordinates optimization of sea lamprey pheromone, sterile-male-release, and trapping strategies for the GLFC’s Integrated Management of Sea Lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) Control Program.
  • Terry Hubert participated in panel presentations and discussions regarding the sea lamprey control program in the Great Lakes, for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission in Bellfonte, PA, February 28. Hubert gave a presentation on the technical assistance program that USGS provides for sea lamprey control program, with a focus on regulatory affairs and pheromone development for use in sea lamprey control. Other panel participants were Michael Fodale, Cheryl Kaye, Shawn Nowicki, and Dorance Brege from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Marquette Biological Station in Marquette, MI.
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Climate Change

La Crosse Community Climate Adaptation Workshop

  • Barry Johnson participated in the La Crosse (WI) Community Climate Adaptation Workshop, February 28. The workshop introduced local government officials and interested parties to climate change, as well as the planning processes and ideas about adaptation actions and strategies that can help their communities prepare for climate change impacts. Results of the workshop will be included in the City of La Crosse Sustainability Plan.

Minnesota Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment

  • Barry Johnson and Eileen Kirsch participated in first meeting of the Minnesota Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment, February 8, in St. Paul, MN. The assessment group has been formed to use a systems mapping approach to evaluate exposure and sensitivity of habitats and species to projected changes in climate and other existing stressors in Minnesota. During this meeting habitat teams were created to assess habitat change maps and evaluate potential impacts to species.
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Conservation Planning

Webinar Presentation – Land Use Around U.S. National Wildlife Refuges

  • Wayne Thogmartin co-authored a Upper Midwest and Great Lakes (UMGL) Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) Webinar titled, “Current and future land use around United States' National Wildlife Refuges.” Thogmartin has been working with individuals from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on an analysis to predicting future land use change, to aid in conservation planning efforts on protected lands. This Webinar is available to view from the UMGL LCC Web site, at
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Geospatial Science & Technology

LiDAR Workshop

  • John (JC) Nelson conducted the workshop, “LiDAR – The ins and outs of using LiDAR, including storage, processing, and general use,” at the Wisconsin Land Information Association Annual Meeting, February 14-16 in Stevens Point, WI. The workshop focused on the use of LiDAR data, including storage needs, processing, uses of LiDAR, and types of LiDAR data. Nelson will take the class through several real world demonstrations using LiDAR data.
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Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)

Project #80, Birds as Indicators of Contaminant Exposure in the Great Lakes

  • Chris Custer gave several overview presentations on Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Project #80 - Birds as Indicators of Contaminant Exposure in the Great Lakes. This work addresses two Beneficial Use Impairments (BUI): Bird or Animal Deformities or Reproductive Problems, and Degradation of Fish and Wildlife Populations. These studies are also providing new information on exposure and effects of new and emerging contaminants for which there are limited biotic data.
    • Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Federal Agency Areas of Concern (AOC) Planning and Coordination meeting, Feb. 9-10 in Lansing, MI.
    • New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, at the New York DEC and federal agency Area of Concern (AOC) planning and coordination meeting in Albany, NY, February 23.
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Mississippi River

Long Term Resource Monitoring – All-Hands Meeting

  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a meeting of the state and federal partners involved in Long Term Resource Monitoring (LTRM) at UMESC, February 15-17. The LTRM is a component of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Upper Mississippi River Restoration-Environmental Management Program (UMRR-EMP), implemented by USGS’s Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center (UMESC). The internal program meeting addressed issues of program management and visibility, efficiency of operations, science planning, and consistency of sampling methods. The goal of the meeting was to enhance teamwork across agencies, and increase the effectiveness of LTRM in supplying information needed to assess river conditions and the effects of management actions.

Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

  • Dave Bornholdt (MWA) and Barry Johnson (UMESC) participated in the quarterly meetings of the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association (UMRBA) and the Environmental Management Program-Coordinating Committee (EMP-CC), in Davenport, IA, February 28 and March 1. The UMRBA meeting focused on river and basin issues such as sand mining, Asian carp, and river training structures. The EMP-CC meeting focused on the management and accomplishments of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration (previously, Environmental Management Program) in both the Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Component and the Long Term Resource Monitoring Component, which is implemented by UMESC.


  • Nathan DeJager and Yao Yin published a results from a study the threshold effects of flood duration on the vegetation and soils of the Upper Mississippi River floodplain, to provide resource managers with information on where their efforts to restore and/or enhance ecosystems are most likely to succeed, under current hydrologic regimes, as well as potential future hydrologic regimes. The author’s examined changes in forest vegetation and soils across a hydrologic gradient, expressed as flood duration during the growing season, for 320 km of the Upper Mississippi River (UMR) floodplain. Their results suggest that there is a threshold along the elevation gradient of this floodplain, corresponding with flood durations lasting ~40% of the growing season. The existence of such thresholds have implications for management of floodplain soil nutrient dynamics and plant diversity.
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National Fish Habitat Action Plan

Habitat Modeling

  • Jason Rohweder, John (JC) Nelson, Jennifer Dieck (UMESC), Heidi Keuler, and Louise Mauldin (FWS) met February 29 to discuss the uses of model data for the Fishers and Farmers Partnership, and the Driftless Area Partnership, of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan. The model data were developed by Downstream Strategies. Options discussed included hardware, software, and staff needs.
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Wildlife Ecology

Using Marine Radar Units to Track Migratory Bird Movements

  • Eileen Kirsch and Mike Wellik discussed their new study to analyze 3-D ascent and descent flight paths of songbirds during spring and fall migration over the western Lake Erie basin landscape, at the Black River Swamp Bird Observatory in Toledo, OH, February 15-16. The project will be conducted using an array of marine radar units in conjunction with ground-level bird monitoring techniques to assess species and abundances. The project is being developed in partnership with colleagues at Bowling Green University, the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, University of Toledo, Ohio State University, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Ecological Services in Ohio. USGS’s participation in this study was enabled by a 2010 Wind Energy and Wildlife budget initiative.
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Wildlife Toxicology

Mercury Contamination in Northern Wisconsin Lakes

  • UMESC scientists studying the effects of mercury (Hg) contamination in northern Wisconsin lakes have published the results from a study which compared the sampling of Hg contamination in tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) to common loons (Gavia immer). The modeling associations showed that Hg concentrations in tree swallow eggs and nestling blood can be used to predict Hg concentrations in common loons, without the invasive or destructive sampling of loons. They were also able to use tree swallows to learn that mean concentrations of cadmium, manganese, and mercury in nestling livers were higher at low pH lakes than neutral pH lakes. Concentrations of cadmium, chromium, mercury, selenium, and zinc were not at toxic levels.
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  • 3-D: Three-dimensional
  • AOC: Area of Concern
  • BUI – Beneficial Use Impairment
  • DEC: Department of Environmental Conservation
  • DEQ: Department of Environmental Quality
  • EMP-CC: Environmental Management Program-Coordinating Committee
  • EPA: Environmental Protection Agency
  • FWS: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • GLFC: Great Lakes Fishery Commission
  • GLRI: Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
  • Hg: Mercury
  • LCC: Landscape Conservation Cooperative
  • LiDAR: Light Detection And Ranging
  • LTRM: Long Term Resource Monitoring
  • MS 222: Tricaine Methanesulfonate
  • MWA: Midwest Area
  • NPS: National Park Service
  • pH: a measure of acidity and alkalinity
  • PCB: PolyChlorinated Biphenyl
  • UMESC: Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
  • UMGL: Upper Midwest and Great Lakes
  • UMR: Upper Mississippi River
  • UMRBA: Upper Mississippi River Basin Association
  • UMRR-EMP: Upper Mississippi River Restoration-Environmental Management Program
  • U.S.: United States
  • USA: United States of America
  • USACE: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • USGS: U.S. Geological Survey
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