USGS - science for a changing world

Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

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

Topics covered in the March 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,
Return to topic list

Aquatic Invasive Species – Asian Carp

Assessing Potential Sources of eDNA

  • Jon Amberg is working with Bridget Befort and Scott Mehus (National Eagle Center) to assess the passage of Asian carp DNA through the digestive systems of fish eating birds. Amberg is feeding Asian carp to bald eagles housed at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, MN, then analyzing their droppings to determine if detectable Asian carp DNA can be recovered. If recovered, long distance migrating fish eating birds could be viewed as a potential source for positive environmental DNA test results, during the time period when the birds are known to migrate. This study is associated with a larger study evaluating potential vectors for the movement of Asian carp DNA in the Chicago Area Waterway System, funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Interview – Chicago Tribune

  • Jon Amberg, Terry Hubert, and Mark Gaikowski were interviewed by Cynthia Dizikes (Chicago Tribune) regarding the development of a selective biocide for controlling invasive Asian carp. The article, and a video interview of Amberg and Hubert discussing their work, are available at,0,2306568.story?page=1.
Return to topic list

Aquatic Invasive Species – Sea Lamprey

Meetings and Presentations

  • Terry Hubert gave a presentation on the proposed FY 2013 UMESC Sea Lamprey Technical Assistance budget and proposed FY 2013 research projects funded by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, at the spring Sea Lamprey Research Board meeting in Ann Arbor, MI, March 8-9.
Return to topic list

Aquatic Nutrients

5th Annual Driftless Area Symposium

  • William Richardson presented an invited talk at the 5th Annual Driftless Area Symposium titled, “Impact of Nutrients on Streams,” March 28 in La Crosse, WI. The talk focused on both the biological responses of stream foodwebs to nutrient loading and the self-cleansing capacity of Driftless area streams. Richardson also discussed potential restoration and management activities to minimize negative effects of over-enrichment of streams.
Return to topic list

Conservation Planning

USACE Framework Workshop

  • Ken Lubinski participated in the workshop, “Considerations for an Ecosystem Goods and Services Guiding Framework for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [USACE] Planning,” held March 15-16 in Annapolis, MD. The workshop was a collaborative effort between the USACE and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Services (CES) to consider the opportunities for using the Ecosystem Goods and Services (EGS) framework to evaluate and prioritize aquatic ecosystem restoration opportunities. During the meeting’s planning session (February 13) Lubinski reviewed the use of ecosystem services information during USACE planning efforts on the Upper Mississippi River, at the workshop (March 15-16) he provided suggestions for USACE planners to consider at the national level.
Return to topic list

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.
Return to topic list

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)

Project #73, Avian Botulism in Distressed Great Lakes Environments

  • Kevin Kenow was interviewed by Marshall Helmberger (Timberjay News, Tower, MN) concerning an update on the common loon migration work he is conducting in Minnesota. Marshall was interested in the status of the loons being tracked via satellite telemetry. Two recent studies (GLRI Project #73: Avian Botulism in Distressed Great Lakes Environments and Migration Patterns and Wintering Distribution of Common Loons Breeding in Minnesota) have provided an opportunity to radiomark and to follow movements of common loons breeding in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan’s upper peninsula. The interview focused on migration patterns and wintering distribution of loons breeding in Minnesota and the onset of spring migration. Graphics depicting the movements of radiomarked loons are served to the public on the UMESC Common Loon Migration web page at

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.
    • Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OH EPA) and Federal Agency Area of Concern (AOC) Planning and Coordination meeting in Eastlake, OH, March 6.
    • Wisconsin Natural Resource Damage Assessment meeting, March 27 at the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan.
  • Tom Custer and Chris Custer gave presentations on their work along the Hudson River and for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), at the 2012 annual meeting of the Midwest chapter for the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC), March 20 at the University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis, MN.
    • Adult tree swallow survival on the PCB-contaminated Hudson River, NY, USA between 2006 and 2010, Christine Custer presenter.
    • Contaminant concentrations in tree swallows, double-crested cormorants, and herring gulls from Green Bay, WI, Thomas Custer presenter.
Return to topic list

Mississippi River

Water Level Management Task Force

  • Kevin Kenow participated in a meeting of the interagency Water Level Management Task Force (WLMTF) of the River Resources Forum, an advisory group to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Paul District, March 22. The group discussed efforts to develop summary reports on past experiences with pool-wide summertime water level reductions (drawdowns) on the Upper Mississippi River (UMR) and continue planning efforts for future drawdown opportunities. Experimental drawdowns have been implemented on the UMR for the primary purpose of enhancing aquatic plant production and habitat diversity.
Return to topic list

National Park Mapping

Acadia National Park – Habitat Fragmentation Study

  • Jason Rohweder delivered the report, “Anticipated effects of development on habitat fragmentation and the movement of mammals into and out of the Schoodic District of Acadia National Park, Maine, USA,” to Acadia National Park. The report documented the results from an analysis to examine the effects of development adjacent to Acadia National Park, on habitat fragmentation and the suitability of habitat for bobcat, fisher, mink, and moose in the Park and other nearby protected areas. The project’s geospatial databases were included in the product delivery package, to assist park managers with current and future planning projects.
    • Rohweder, J., D. DeJager. 2012. Anticipated effects of development on habitat fragmentation and the movement of mammals into and out of the Schoodic District of Acadia National Park, Maine, USA. U.S. Geological Survey, for Acadia National Park. 35pp.

Yellowstone National Park – Vegetation Mapping

  • Jennifer Dieck, Andrew Strassman, and Kevin Hop (UMESC) led a coordination meeting March 27-28 with Karl Brown, Tammy Cook (NPS Vegetation Inventory Program), Kristin Legg, Cathie Jean (Greater Yellowstone Network), Roy Renkin, and Ann Rodman (Yellowstone NP) to determine actions needed to move forward with a proposed vegetation mapping project for Yellowstone National Park.
Return to topic list

Native Mussels


  • Teresa Newton gave the keynote address at the Iowa Mussel Symposium sponsored by the University of Iowa’s Iowa Institute for Hydraulic Research (IIHR), March 26-27 in Iowa City, IA. Newton discussed recent population estimates of native mussels in the Upper Mississippi River, and met with University of Iowa staff to discuss research plans for their joint research on (1) Quantifying Diurnal Nitrogen Dynamics in Mussel Assemblages and (2) Using Mussel Communities As A Biosensory Network for Understanding the Nitrogen Cycle.
Return to topic list

Remote Sensing

Aerial Photography

  • Larry Robinson completed the boresight computation for the Fish and Wildlife Service Region 3's 40-mm natural color lens using the USGS' Rolla, MO boresight range, March 20. Computing the boresight angles determines small offsets in the various camera components that can degrade position information if unaccounted for. These offsets are measured by collecting imagery over known ground control points and comparing photo coordinates with the measure coordinates. Once calculated, these offsets can be eliminated from other missions using this lens, resulting in individual photos and photo mosaics that are accurate to inches instead of meters.
Return to topic list

Wildlife Ecology

Studying Extreme Weather Events

  • Wayne Thogmartin attended a meeting to initiate research examining the effects of extreme weather events on avian abundance, demography, and community structure, March 26-28 in Madison, WI. This work is funded by NASA and includes collaborators from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Stony Brook University, and the University of Nevada-Reno.


  • Steve Gutreuter gave the presentation, “Estimating the effect of water-level fluctuations on the reproductive success of common loons,” at the 2012 Lake of the Woods and Rainey Basin Water Quality Forum in International Falls, MN, March 7-9. The talk presented results from research funded by the International Joint Commission in support of the evaluation of the 2000 Rule Curve evaluation for Rainy Lake and the Namakan Reservoir. The presentation’s co-authors are Ryan Maki and Steve Windes (NPS, Voyageurs National Park).
Return to topic list

Wind Energy

Near-Shore and Off-Shore Wind Turbine Placements

  • Steve Houdek, Kevin Kenow (UMESC), and Brian Lubinski (FWS) conducted aerial surveys of waterbirds on selected areas of Lake Michigan, March 13-15, to support the characterization of sea duck wintering distribution and population status and impact assessment of near-shore and off-shore wind turbine placement. The surveys were funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Region 3 Migratory Bird Conservation Program.

Wind Energy Impacts Workshop

  • Wayne Thogmartin participated in the USGS Wind Energy Impacts Assessment Methodology Development Workshop at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV, March 20–22. The workshop was held to identify factors to consider when developing a national assessment of the impacts to fish and wildlife from wind energy projects, including sharing USGS assessment methodologies for other resources, identifying available data and research on wind/wildlife interaction, and identifying gaps in data necessary for developing a national assessment.
Return to topic list


Data Management

  • John (JC) Nelson attended the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) training course, “Electronic Records Management” in Chicago, IL, March 7-8. UMESC is working to improve their data management tools, this class is the next step in that process.
  • Jennifer Dieck and Manuel Suarez attended the Department of Interior’s Data Access Workshop in Denver, CO, March 13-14. The first day of the two-day workshop focused on remote sensing products and applications. The second day involved hand-on exercises on the use of a number of USGS and NASA access clients.


  • AOC: Area of Concern
  • ARfD: Acute Reference Dose
  • BUI: Beneficial Use Impairment
  • CES: Center for Environmental Services
  • EGS: Ecosystems Good and Services
  • EPA: Environmental Protection Agency
  • FDA: U.S. Food and Drug Administration
  • FWS: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • GLRI: Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
  • IIHR: Iowa Institute for Hydraulic Research
  • MS 222: Tricaine Methanesulfonate
  • NARA: National Archives and Records Administration
  • NASA: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • NPS: National Park Service
  • PCB: PolyChlorinated Biphenyl
  • SETAC: Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
  • UMESC: Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
  • UMR: Upper Mississippi River
  • U.S.: United States
  • USA: United States of America
  • USACE: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • USGS: U.S. Geological Survey
Return to topic list

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey

Page Contact Information: Contacting the Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
Page Last Modified: February 15, 2012