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Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

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

Topics covered in this month's activity report:

Aquatic Ecosystem Health

2012 Coolwater Culture Workshop

  • Steve Redman and Maren Tuttle-Lau attended the 2012 Coolwater Culture Workshop, January 22-24 in Stevens Point, WI. Redman presented information regarding recent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) projects at UMESC, while Tuttle-Lau presented information on recent UMESC fish health research. Redman also coordinated with fish culturists to request fish and fish eggs to support UMESC science needs.

FDA Approvals of Research Methods – Formalin Use

  • Maren Tuttle-Lau and Mark Gaikowski received protocol concurrence from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) on a protocol submitted to evaluate the potential adverse effects associated with formalin use and application in recirculating aquaculture systems. Protocol concurrence is a required step to be eligible for grants available through the CVM Office of Minor Use Minor Species. All fish are considered minor species and thus funds are available to develop tools to enhance the health of these animals and to assess potential adverse effects associated with the use of chemicals in husbandry of minor species.
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Aquatic Invasive Species – Asian Carp

Minnesota Governor’s Asian Carp Task Force

  • Mark Gaikowski and Randy Hines hosted a visit, on January 4, from several members of the Minnesota Governor's Asian carp task force; Richard Carlson (Minnesota River Watershed Alliance), Lance Ness (Anglers for Habitat), Keith Blonstrand, and Ed Kuisle (Minnesota Conservation Federation). During their visit Gaikowski provided an overview of UMESC research on the development of species-specific controls for Asian carp and zebra mussels, and Hines provided a tour of the facility. The task force is comprised of state, federal, and non-governmental agencies and organizations, working together to protect Minnesota lakes and rivers from the spread of Asian carp.
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Aquatic Invasive Species – Sea Lamprey

Great Lakes Fishery Commission Annual Workshop

  • Terry Hubert and Nick Schloesser attended the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) Sea Lamprey Annual Workshop, January 31-February 1 in Petoskey, MI. Hubert presented information on the development of an interactive toxicity and environmental fate data compendium as a resource for the control agents and the GLFC.
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Congressional Interactions

Mississippi River Advisory Committee

  • UMESC hosted U.S. Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI 3rd district) and his Mississippi River Advisory Committee meeting, January 26. During the semi-annual meeting, 30 representatives from state and federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private businesses provided updates on their river related activities. Prior to the meeting Jack Waide and Randy Hines gave Congressman Kind a tour of UMESC’s new addition and conference facility, and provided updates on UMESC projects funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). During the meeting, Deputy Director Waide provided updates on USGS’s river related activities.
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Geospatial Technology

International LiDAR Mapping Forum

  • Kevin Hop attended in the 2012 International LIDAR Mapping Forum January 23-25 in Denver, CO. Hop participated in the event which focused on airborne and bathymetric LiDAR data collection and analysis, and met with National Park Service (NPS) Vegetation Inventory Program (VIP) coordinators to discuss geodatabase product standards for the NPS VIP.
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Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)

Project #73, Avian Botulism in Distressed Great Lakes Environments

  • Kevin Kenow participated in annual project planning meeting for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) project #73, Avian Botulism in Distressed Great Lakes Environments, January 10-11 in Chicago, IL. Kenow updated co-investigators on results of his work on waterbird distribution and foraging patterns on Lake Michigan, and discussed the upcoming project peer review and 2012 direction/priorities.

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

  • During January, Chris Custer and Tom Custer presented gave two presentations on Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) Project #80 - Birds as Indicators of Contaminant Exposure in the Great Lakes, which is providing spatially and temporally integrated assessment of biologically available sediment contamination for legacy contaminants such as PCBs, dioxins, furans, and various trace elements, and for new and emerging contaminants. Their work addresses two Beneficial Use Impairments (BUI): Bird or Animal Deformities or Reproductive Problems, and Degradation of Fish and Wildlife Populations.
    • On January 5, Chris and Tom addressed the Manistique Area of Concern (AOC) working group. This is the first time data has been collected for new and emerging contaminants within the Manistique AOC’s watershed.
    • On January 23, Chris Custer and Tom Custer addressed the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Federal Agency AOC Planning and Coordination meeting in Milwaukee, WI
    • Christine Custer is preparing to record a Web presentation on Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Project (GLRI) Project #80 - Birds as Indicators of Contaminant Exposure in the Great Lakes, for the University of Wisconsin Extension program in Sheboygan, WI. The video will be used to support the Extension’s outreach effort to inform the public about ongoing work at Areas of Concern (AOC) in Wisconsin, with the ultimate goal of removing Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs) and AOC designation. The Extension program is creating a series of presentations for use at public meetings and other venues. Once the presentation becomes available, Custer is planning to create Web links between the project’s Web page and the Extension video.
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National Park Mapping

Natchez-Trace Parkway (NATR)

  • Andrew Strassman and Larry Robinson completed the 8-bit processing and review of high-resolution, large-format digital aerial imagery for the National Park Service's Natchez-Trace Parkway (Nashville, TN to Tupelo, MS). Peak to near-peak fall 12-inch/pixel color imagery of the Parkway was collected on October 14 and November 11, 2011, to be used to develop a vegetation database for the National Park Service's (NPS) Vegetation Inventory Program (VIP), an effort to classify, describe, and map detailed vegetation communities in more than 270 national park units across the United States.

Yellowstone National Park (YELL)

  • Jennifer Dieck, Kevin Hop, Erin Hoy, Andrew Strassman (UMESC), Roy Renkin, Ann Rodman (Yellowstone National Park ), Cathie Jean, Kristin Legg (NPS Inventory and Monitoring), and Karl Brown (NPS Vegetation Monitoring Program) discussed the drafting of a study plan (coordination, deadlines, and logistics) for the Yellowstone National Park Vegetation Mapping Project on January 23. The vegetation mapping of Yellowstone will be performed according to National Park Service's Vegetation Inventory Program (VIP) standards.
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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Support

Improving Aerial Photography Capabilities – Region 3

  • Larry Robinson (UMESC) assisted Brian Lubinski (FWS Region 3 pilot) with setting up the new gyroscopic mount for the digital cameras UMESC uses to collect aerial photos of Upper Mississippi River floodplain vegetation, January 10. Robinson’s assistance also included processing the calibration missions used to calculate small offsets in the position of the camera’s sensors above the earth at the time of exposure, which in turn maximize the geospatial accuracy of the positional information associated with each image. The new gyroscopic mount will further enhance the quality and accuracy of digital aerial image products by performing instantaneous adjustments to the camera, ensuring the camera’s sensor is parallel to the earth, thus reducing/eliminating the effects of wind and air speed (a.k.a., pitch and roll).

Land Cover Mapping – Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge

  • Larry Robinson assisted the Great Lakes Science Center in developing stereo models for multiple years of digital aerial photography of the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, January 3-5. The models will be used to map vegetation in 3D, using specialized hardware and software.

Monitoring Wildlife Migrations – Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge

  • UMESC scientists are using the National Weather Service’s (NWS) Doppler radar data to detect the best time of day for conducting waterfowl aerial surveys. Manual Suarez is using Doppler radar to monitor the crepuscular (sunrise and sunset) foraging flights of waterfowl leaving their resting places on Gibson Lake and the Wabash River in southern Indiana and Illinois. This project, funded via a Science Support Partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, suggests the Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge should conduct their aerial waterfowl surveys in early to mid-afternoon while the waterfowl are resting, to ensure the counting is as accurate as possible. Aerial waterfowl surveys began the week of January 16 and will continue with 1-2 surveys per week through mid-April. Suarez will use NWS weather radar during this time to monitor the direction of waterfowl migration along the river valley and over land, as well as waterfowl use of the river valley as stopover habitat.

Using Decision Support Technology to Aid Resource Management

  • During January, several meetings were held to determine if a decision support system developed by Jason Rohweder for the Morris Wetland Management District (WMD) in western Minnesota could be modified to support habitat management projects in other management units. The Morris WMD management unit prioritization tool was created to analyze landscape and management unit data, and identify Waterfowl Production Areas that have the greatest biological potential, with respect to priority resources and habitats.
    • Jason Rohweder, Tim Fox, Jennifer Dieck (UMESC), Pat Heglund, Chris Trosen, and Caitlin Smith (FWS), met to discuss GIS analysis and mapping needs for the St. Croix WMD in western Wisconsin, January 6.
    • Soch Lor, Cami Dixon, Chris Swanson, Michael Erickson (FWS), and Max Post Van Der Burg (NPWRC) met with Jason Rohweder on January 12 to learn about the management unit prioritization tool, as management districts in FWS Region 6 (Mountain-Prairie) are interested in conducting a similar project for prioritizing their management units.
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Wind Energy

Bat and Wind Energy Workshop

  • Wayne Thogmartin participated in the USGS/FWS Bat and Wind Energy Workshop in Ft. Collins, CO, January 25-26. The workshop brought together regional representatives and scientists from USGS and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to discuss critical issues concerning bats and wind energy developments, build working relationships between managers and scientists, and prioritize future research efforts.

Near-Shore and Off-Shore Wind Turbine Placement – Lake Michigan

  • Steve Houdek and Kevin Kenow conducted aerial surveys on selected areas of Lake Michigan, to determine wintering sea duck distribution and population status in support of an impact assessment of near-shore and off-shore wind turbine placement. This project is being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Region 3 Migratory Bird Conservation Program. The surveys were conducted January 18-21.
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Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center

  • Steve Gutreuter served as a panelist for a science review of the USGS Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center, January 9-13, Flagstaff, AZ.


  • AOC – Area of Concern
  • ARRA – American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  • BUI – Beneficial Use Impairment
  • CVM – Center for Veterinary Medicine
  • FDA – U.S. Food and Drug Administration
  • FWS – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • GLFC – Great Lakes Fishery Commission
  • GLRI – Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
  • LiDAR – Light Detection And Ranging
  • NATR – Natchez-Trace Parkway
  • NPS – National Park Service
  • NPWRC – Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
  • NWS – National Weather Service
  • PCB – PolyChlorinated Biphenyl
  • UMESC – Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
  • USGS – U.S. Geological Survey
  • VIP – Vegetation Inventory Program
  • WMD – Wetland Management District
  • YELL – Yellowstone National Park
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