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Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

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

Topics covered in the November activity report.

Aquatic Invasive Species

Zebra Mussel Control Evaluations

Kerry Weber presented, “Efficacy and Exposure Impacts of Zequanox for controlling zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) adhering to native mussels in Midwestern lakes,” at the North American Lake Management Society meeting in Tampa, FL, November 12-14, 2014. Weber is working on the project to develop safe tools to prevent the spread of dreissenid mussels (zebra and quagga) and rehabilitating and protecting native mussel habitats by controlling existing dreissenid mussel populations. The project’s researchers have already received approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to use Zequanox in open water environments, and are now working on developing application strategies. Additional information on the project is available at

Minnesota Invasive Carps Forum

Jon Amberg and Randy Hines participated in the Minnesota Invasive Carps Forum, November 10, 2014, at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center in Bloomington, MN.  Amberg gave a presentation on UMESC’s Asian carp research efforts, the development of monitoring and control tools for Asian carps, and discuss the updated Minnesota Invasive Carps Action Plan.    

Molecular Diagnostic Tools to Assess Invasive Species Populations

Christopher Rees gave the invited presentation, “Characterizing Aquatic Invasive Species Populations Using Molecular Diagnostic Tests: An Overview of Molecular Research at UMESC,” as part of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UW-L) Biology and Math Department’s seminar series, November 17, 2014. Rees is working on the project to improve the accuracy and reliability of using environmental DNA (eDNA) testing to detect and monitor the spread of aquatic invasive species.

PUBLICATION: Non-living Sources of DNA Affect Asian Carp eDNA Interpretations

Chris Merkes, S. Grace McCalla, Nate Jensen, Mark Gaikowski, and Jon Amberg published the results of an environmental DNA (eDNA) persistence study, which indicate that non-living sources of DNA (dead carp, slime residue, and predator feces) transported on the surface of a barge could be the source of a positive eDNA detection in waters where no bigheaded carps exist. Results indicate that all three vectors are feasible sources of detectable eDNA for at least one month after their deposition on the surface of a barge.  This project was conducted in conjunction with the Environmental DNA Calibration Study (ECALS), a collaboration between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and USGS. The manuscript are available at, For more information contact Chris Merkes at

Merkes, C.M., McCalla, S.G., Jensen, N.R., Gaikowski, M.P., Amberg, J.J. 2014. Persistence of DNA in Carcasses, Slime and Avian Feces May Affect Interpretation of Environmental DNA Data. PLoS ONE. 9(11): e113346. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0113346.

Climate Change

Climate Change and Mosquito Control

Richard Erickson (UMESC) and Steven Presley (Texas Tech University) were invited to write an article about climate change and mosquito control for Wing Beats, an official publication of the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA). The publication is targeted at practitioners in the field of mosquito control and their article provided an overview of how climate change may affect mosquito-borne diseases. The article was based upon Erickson's graduate research at Texas Tech where he studied climate change and its impacts on Dengue. Currently the article is only available to AMCA members.  For more information, or to obtain a copy of the .pdf, contact Richardson Erickson at

Erickson, R. A. and S. M. Presley. 2014. Climate change and mosquito control: An example with the Asian tiger mosquito. Wing Beats: 25(3):35-38.

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)

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

Chris Custer and Tom Custer were invited to give an update on their Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) research at Ohio's Area of Concern (AOC) Fall Summit in Toledo, OH, December 4, 2014.  The Custers summarized the data they collected for GLRI Project 80, “Birds as Indicators of Contaminant Exposure in the Great Lakes,” with specifics provided for the Maumee AOC in western Ohio.  Attendees will include representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA), Ohio EPA, Maumee AOC, Lake Erie Program Coordinators, the AOC Advisory Committee, numerous partner agencies (e.g., City of Toledo, Metroparks, The Nature Conservancy, Duck Unlimited), and the public.

Upper Mississippi River Restoration

UMRR Coordinating Committee Meeting

Mark Gaikowski, Barry Johnson, Jennifer Sauer, and Jeff Houser participated in the November quarterly meeting of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Upper Mississippi River Restoration (UMRR) Coordinating Committee, November 19, in St. Paul, MN.  The UMRR funds the Long Term Resource Monitoring Program on the Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS), which is implemented through USGS-UMESC.  This partnership meeting provides a forum for the Corps, USGS, other federal agencies, and the five UMRS states to discuss and consider a range of program policy and budget issues concerning the UMRR program.  Agenda included: discussion, endorsement, and implementation of the new UMRR Strategic Plan 2015-2025; and development of the next UMRR Report to Congress (due FY 2016).

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

PUBLICATION: Myotis Bat Population Modeling – Mortality Location Matters

Richard Erickson, Wayne Thogmartin (UMESC), Robin Russell (NWHC), Jay Diffendorfer (GECSC), and Jennifer Szymanski (USFWS) published results from their model for examining population dynamics of the Little Brown Bat and endangered Indiana Bat.  They found that multiple equilibria exist for local, migratory subpopulations, even though the total population may remain constant. These equilibria suggest the location and magnitude of stressors such as White-nose Syndrome, meteorological phenomena, or impacts of wind turbines on survival influence system dynamics, and risk of population extirpation in difficult to predict ways.  Results of this study suggest that conservators of migratory bat populations will need to understand the specific spatial and demographic context of the populations they seek to conserve to be effective at population management.  For more information contact Richard Erickson at  The manuscript is available online at

Erickson, R.A., Thogmartin W.E., Russell, R.E., Diffendorfer, J.E., Szymanski, J.A. 2014. A stage-structured, spatially explicit migration model for myotis bats: Mortality location affects system dynamics. Letters in Biomathematics. Vol 1(2):157-172.

PUBLICATION: Variation in Freshwater Mussel Shell and Soft Tissue Growth – Ecological and Management Implications

James Larson, Michelle Bartsch (UMESC), and Nathan Eckert (USFWS) published a study on intrinsic variability in growth of shell and soft tissues of a freshwater mussel (Lampsilis siliquoidea).  Larson et. al., found high variability in shell dimensions despite mussels having been treated similarly, but lower variability in soft-tissue mass.  The authors discuss the implications of variability in mussel growth and size for the success of propagation efforts, the ability to detect sub-lethal stressors, and the disconnect between structural and metabolic impacts of mussels on ecosystems.   The manuscript is available online at, For more information contact James Larson at

Larson, J.H., Eckert, N.L., Bartsch, M.R. 2014. Intrinsic Variability in Shell and Soft Tissue Growth of the Freshwater Mussel Lampsilis siliquoidea. PLoS ONE. 9(11):e112252. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0112252.

Wildlife Ecology

USGS Wind Energy Assessment Methodology Project

Richard Erickson gave a presentation on the framework currently being developed as part of the USGS Wind Energy Impacts Assessment Methodology project, at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) North America meeting in Vancouver, Canada, November 13, 2014.


AMCA – American Mosquito Control Association
AOC – Area of Concern
DNR – Department of Natural Resources
ECALS – Environmental DNA Calibration Study
eDNA – environmental DNA
EPA – Environmental Protection Agency
GECSC – Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center
GLRI – Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
LTRMP – Long Term Resource Monitoring Program
NWHC – National Wildlife Health Center
PWRC – Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
SETAC – Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
UMESC – Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
UMRR – Upper Mississippi River Restoration
UMRS – Upper Mississippi River System
USFWS – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
USGS – U.S. Geological Survey
UW-L – University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

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