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Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

July 2014 Activity Highlights
Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
La Crosse, Wisconsin

Topics covered in the July activity report.

Aquatic Ecosystem Health

Aquaculture Drug Approval Coordination Meeting

Jeff Meinertz and Aaron Cupp (UMESC) attended the 20th Annual U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Aquaculture Drug Approval Coordination Workgroup meeting, July 29-31, 2014 in Bozeman, MT.  Meinertz and Cupp participated in several project coordination meetings and provided oral presentations for the following studies.

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)

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

Christine and Thomas Custer (UMESC) participated in a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) Chemical and Bio Effects Monitoring and Surveillance Planning Meeting, hosted by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), July 16-17, 2014 in Chicago, IL.  This meeting brought together representatives from Federal Agencies to discuss on-going as well as future work on bioeffects and surveillance studies within the GLRI program.  Also present were EPA and Department of Defense research scientists working at the molecular level on metabolomics, transcriptomics, and other biochemical responses, with the goal to more fully integrate the organismic and biochemical projects within the GLRI.

Media Interactions

Mark Gaikowski (UMESC) was interviewed by Rebecca Carroll, Nextgov, on July 8 about USGS efforts to acquire six new water guns for use in the development of Asian carp control tools.  On-line article appeared on July 9 at .  

Teresa Newton, Steve Zigler, and Patty Ries (UMESC) were interviewed on July 14 by producer Yves Legrain-Crist (Channel France TV 5 Monde) for a documentary in the series entitled "Echappees Belles" (English translation – “beautiful journey”).  This documentary focuses on the domestication of the Mississippi River, the economy around it, and the struggle for its protection.  Newton and colleagues shared the ecological and economic importance of native mussels in the Upper Mississippi River ecosystem with Yves.  The film is tentatively set to air in January 2015.

Mark Gaikowski (UMESC) was interviewed by Dave Carlson, Wisconsin Outdoor News, on July 8 about USGS Asian carp surveillance and control research activities for 2014, including eDNA monitoring, and water gun, CO2, and sound barrier tool development.  Article was published in July.  

Christine Custer (UMESC) was interviewed by Kathleen Martini regarding the Custer’s work with tree swallows, using them to monitor contaminant levels in the Great Lakes.  Thomas and Christine Custer are using tree swallows to quantify exposure to, and effects of, historical and emerging contaminants on Great Lakes food chains.  Their project is Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) project #80, Birds as Indicators of Contaminant Exposure in the Great Lakes.  Background information is available at  The article appeared in the July 13 edition of The Columbus Dispatch, available at

Kevin Kenow (UMESC) was interviewed by Brian Bienkowski (Environmental Health News) regarding the USGS GLRI project on the effects of botulism on Lake Michigan waterbirds, July 24, 2014.

National Park Service

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve

Larry Robinson (UMESC) and Brian Lubinski (USFWS) collected high-resolution digital aerial imagery of the National Park Service’s (NPS) Baratarina Preserve unit of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve (JELA), a 23,000-acre Louisiana wetland located southwest of New Orleans, LA, by Lakes Catouatchie and Salvador.  The imagery was collected July 25-26, 2014 at 6-inch per pixel in color infrared and natural color.  The images will be used to create a detailed land cover/land use layer for the JELA ( and NPS Vegetation Inventory and Monitoring Program, to fill and complement a wide variety of resource assessment, management, and conservation needs.


La Crosse and Sister City of Kumbo Exchange

Randy Hines (UMESC) hosted a tour by City of La Crosse Friends of Cameroon and Delegates from La Crosse sister city of Kumbo, Republic of Cameroon, West Africa on July 8.    The UMESC was the last stop on the 10-day exchange where Delegates learned about USGS research and monitoring science on rivers, sedimentation, water quality, fish restoration, and invasive species. The Delegation visit was part of current and ongoing relationships between Western Technical College Dental and Computer Programs, Viterbo University Nursing Program, Franciscan Healthcare and City of La Crosse encompassing healthcare technology support project( 

Youth Outdoor Fest

Kevin Hop and Randy Hines (UMESC) participated in the 6th annual Youth Outdoor Fest on July 12 in La Crosse, Wisconsin where over 1,000 kids experienced outdoor recreation and learning activities.  Hop and Hines operated a geocaching booth where youth and families experimented with hand-held GPS units, aerial maps, and a geocaching route.  The Fest was sponsored by the La Crosse Park and Recreation Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with over 30 partners sponsoring booths and hands-on activities getting kids outdoors on the Mississippi River.

Upper Mississippi River Restoration – Environmental Management Program

Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge – Annual Meeting

Jennifer Sauer, Brian Ickes, Jeff Houser, and Larry Robinson (UMESC)  presented an overview of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Upper Mississippi River Restoration (UMRR) Long Term Resource Monitoring Program element (LTRMP), at an all-employee meeting of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, July 17, 2014 in La Crosse, WI.  USGS’s Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center administers the LTRMP for the state and federal UMRR partnership along with conducting and overseeing LTRMP research and monitoring activities.  Discussions included: using monitoring data as a foundation for learning about large, complicated ecosystems; research of, and status and trends of, large river fisheries; resource mapping, including new remote sensing techniques; and delivery of information to stakeholders.

Wildlife Ecology

Contaminant Exposure of Birds in Green Bay: PCB and DDE Levels Decline (Publication)

Thomas Custer, Paul Dummer, Christine Custer (UMESC), J. Christian Franson (NWHC), and Michael Jones (USDA), published the results from a comparison study of environmental contaminant data collected on colonial waterbird and tree swallow eggs collected in the early 1990s and 2010-2011 from lower Green Bay, WI.  Over the 15+ year time period, concentrations of  polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) and p,p'-dichlorodiphenyl dichloroethylene (DDE) declined 35% to 88% depending on the species.  The manuscript is available online at  For more information contact Thomas Custer at

Custer, T.W., P.M. Dummer, J.C. Franson, C.M. Custer, M. Jones.  2014. Contaminant exposure of birds nesting in Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA.   Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 33:1832-1839.  DOI:10.1002/etc.2609.


CO2 – Carbon Dioxide
DDE – p,p'-dichlorodiphenyl dichloroethylene
eDNA – Environmental DNA
EPA – Environmental Protection Agency
GPS – Global Positioning System
GLRI – Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
JELA – Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
LTRMP – Long Term Resource Monitoring Program
NPS – National Park Service
NWHC – National Wildlife Health Center
PCBs – polychlorinated biphenyls
UMESC – Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
UMRR – Upper Mississippi River Restoration
USDA – U.S. Department of Agriculture
USFWS – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
USGS – U.S. Geological Survey

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