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Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

June 2015 Activity Highlights
Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
La Crosse, Wisconsin

Topics covered in the June activity report.

Aquatic Invasive Species

Paddlefish acquired for Non-target Indicator Species for Asian Carp Control Research

Steve Redman acquired Paddlefish from Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery, Tishomingo, OK during the week of June 8, 2015. UMESC has ongoing research developing techniques to induce Asian carp mortality using micro-particles laced with fish toxicants. These paddlefish will be used to evaluate the impact of the micro-particle techniques on a non-target species.

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)

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

Chris and Tom Custer, and Paul Dummer, conducted phase two of the field work for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) project week of June 8-12. Collections for tree swallow biomarker assessments began at nearly 32 field sites. Biomarker assessments have been broadened from those relating primarily to organic contaminants including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, to now include endocrine disrupting CECs that affect the
thyroid system. This project is a collaborative effort of three USGS Science Centers (National Wildlife Research Center, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, and Wisconsin Water Science Center), U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and two EPA Office of Research and Development research laboratories.


Conservation Planning for the Monarch Butterfly

Wayne Thogmartin was interviewed by Josephine Marcotty of the Star Tribune on 28 May 2015 for a possible story on conservation planning for the imperiled monarch butterfly. Story targeted to go on-line May 6 or 7.


Environmental Explorers Camp

The Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center and University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Continuing Education program hosted their 15th Environmental Explorers Camp, June 16-17, 2015, in La Crosse, WI.  Environmental Explorers Camp is an annual outdoor event designed to provide 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students with hands-on opportunities to learn about amphibians, birds, fish, plants, and invertebrates, as well as water quality and ecosystem research.  This year’s Environmental Explorers Camp was featured on the WXOW evening news (  For more information contact Randy Hines at

Partner Meetings

Jean Lafitte National Park - Vegetation Mapping Project

Kevin Hop and Andrew Strassman (UMESC) joined Milo Pyne (NatureServe) June 21- 27 to conduct a field reconnaissance of the vegetation and a mapping verification within the Barataria Preserve for the Jean Lafitte (JELA) Vegetation Mapping Project, part of the NPS Vegetation Inventory Program. Field work occurred at various locations throughout the preserve and will involve the comparison of aerial imagery signatures and preliminary mapping to ground conditions while simultaneously testing the key to vegetation for functionality and consistency.

Whitefish Area Property Owners Association – Ciscos and Common Loons

Kevin Kenow met with The Whitefish Area Property Owners Association to discuss a pilot study to determine common loon foraging patterns and the relative importance of cisco in the diets of breeding and non-breeding common loons, June 18, 2015, in Pequot Lakes, MN.  UMESC and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are planning to conduct the pilot study this summer on the Whitefish Chain of Lakes in Crow Wing County, MN, an important cold-water cisco refuge.


Spatial Patterns of Terrestrial Predators Associated with Anthropogenic Land-Use in Eastern Prairie Pothole Region.

Wayne Thogmartin, Jason Rohweder, and former USGS scientists Shawn Crimmins, Liza Walleser, and Patrick McKann, along with Fish and Wildlife Service colleague Dan Hertel, published research describing spatial patterns in medium-sized carnivore abundance in the eastern Prairie Pothole Region as a function of environmental covariates. The Prairie Pothole Region is the duck factory of North America. One of the important constraints to waterfowl production is predation by medium-sized carnivores. The species they focused on included coyote (Canis latrans), raccoon (Procyon lotor), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), and striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis). The researchers reported no evidence that coyote abundance limited that of other mesocarnivore species, as might be expected under a hypothesis of mesopredator release. Further, they found that as agricultural landcover increased, predator abundance increased. Restoration of wetland habitat may have the dual effect of increasing suitable nesting habitat and reducing habitat preferred by mammalian nest

Effects of Hydrogen Peroxide on Biofilter Function in Recirculating Aquaculture Systems.

Kim Fredricks with the assistance of UMESC Librarian Lisa Hein completed a comprehensive literature review to determine the effects of hydrogen peroxide on biofilter function in recirculating aquaculture systems. Based on available literature, repeated application of 15 mg/L hydrogen peroxide over 3 hours had essentially no effect on biofilter function. In tanks with high fish densities, the hydrogen peroxide concentrations were essentially 0 mg/L 2 hours after applying hydrogen peroxide to the system.

Effects of Formalin on Biofilter Function in Recirculating Aquaculture Systems.

Kim Fredricks with the assistance of UMESC Librarian Lisa Hein completed a comprehensive literature review to determine the effects of formalin on biofilter function in recirculating aquaculture systems. Based on available literature, formaldehyde concentrations 40 mg/L or less does not impact biofilter function. Repeated dosing of biofilters at low formaldehyde concentrations (20 mg/L or less)
had no major adverse effects on biofilter function.

R-Programming Language Source Code for “BatTool”

Richard Erickson posted the source code for BatTool, an R programming language package used to model the population-level effects of wind turbines and white-nose syndrome on bats, to the USGS-R GitHub repository. Erickson and Wayne Thogmartin (UMESC) developed the underlying model and package in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for the endangered Indiana bat, but have since generalized the population model to other bat species. The model is currently being used by both USFWS biologists and consultants to assess the impacts of wind turbine development on the Indiana bat. Posting the code to GitHub will help other partners and the general public access the code. The code maybe downloaded at

Scientific Meetings, Conferences, and Workshops

Conference on Biological Stoichiometry

James Larson presented, “Relationships between elemental composition and watershed
characteristics in caddisflies and dreissenid mussels,” at the Conference on Biological Stoichiometry
(2015), June 23-27, 2015 in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.


Applied Multivariate Statistics Methods for Analyzing Ecological Data in R

Chris Merkes participated in Applied Multivariate Statistics Methods for Analyzing Ecological Data in R training at the Minnesota Water Sciences Center in Mounds View, MN on June 8-12.


AOC – Area of Concern
CEC – Contaminants of Concern
DNR – Department of Natural Resources
EPA – Environmental Protection Agency
GLRI – Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
JELA – Jean Lafitte National Park
NOAA – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
NPS – National Park Service
NPWRC – Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
NWHC – National Wildlife Health Center
PWRC – Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
UMESC – Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
USFWS – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
USGS – U.S. Geological Survey
WSC – Water Science Center

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