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Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

June 2016 Activity Highlights
Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
La Crosse, Wisconsin

Topics covered in the June activity report.

Aquatic Invasive Species

Research Update: Using Carbon Dioxide to Deter the Movements of Invasive Asian Carps Aaron Cupp, Richard Erickson, Kim Fredricks, Jon Amberg (UMESC), Ty Hatton and Nick Swyers (CRRL) published a manuscript evaluating the use of carbon dioxide (CO2) as a deterrent to silver carp and bighead carp movement in outdoor ponds. Researchers monitored fish movement using acoustic telemetry and found that injection of CO2 reduced the upstream movement of fish relative to normal movement before and after injection. Results indicate that CO2 has the potential to reduce Asian carp movement, and further research is needed to determine the utility of this method for reducing the risk of Asian carp movement from the Mississippi River basin into the Great Lakes basin.  The publication is inPress with the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (Aaron Cupp,, Ecosystems).

Cupp, A.R., Erickson, R.A., Fredricks, K.T., Swyers, N.M., Hatton, T.W., Amberg, J.J. (in press). Responses of invasive silver and bighead carp to a carbon dioxide barrier in outdoor ponds. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.

Collaborative Research Activities

Great Smoky Mountains Vegetation Mapping Project

Andrew Strassman, Kevin Hop, Erin Hoy (UMESC), Rickie White (NatureServe), Tom Remaley, Troy Evans, Rob Klein (GRSM), and additional Great Smoky Mountains (GRSM) National Park Service (NPS) staff conducted field reconnaissance of vegetation within the North Carolina-side of GRSM National Park June 20-July 1, 2016, for the GRSM Vegetation Mapping Project.  Field work was centered around Robbinsville and Waynesville, NC, and involved the comparison of aerial imagery signatures to ground conditions while simultaneously testing the key to vegetation for functionality and consistency.  The GRSM Vegetation Mapping Project is a part of the NPS Vegetation Mapping Inventory (VMI) Program.


Mathematical Biology Research Experience for Undergraduates

Richard Erickson (UMESC) mentored undergraduate students as part of Mathematical Biology Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. The students will be developing and mathematically analyzing models used to assess the impacts of wind energy development on wildlife. The students had the opportunity to share their findings with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and USGS scientists over the course of the 10-week program. Erickson and Kevin Aagard (UMESC) are collaborators on the NSF grant to fund the REU, and Aagard will mentor students in a future year. Additional program details may found at the program's webpage:

Partner Meetings

USGS Large Rivers Initiative

Jennifer Dieck, Tim Fox, John (JC) Nelson, and Jayme Stone (UMESC) gave a presentation on the Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS) Topobathy integration project for the USGS Large Rivers Initiative (LRI), June 13, 2016. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s Upper Mississippi River Restoration (UMRR) Program’s Long Term Resource Monitoring (LTRM) element has invested heavily in the collection of lidar and bathymetry data. While lidar and bathymetry data are both powerful research and mapping information products, their ability to enhance knowledge of the UMRS increases when combined to create an integrated elevation dataset.  These data are being used by researchers to assist with the future implementation of ecosystem restoration programs and projects, hydrodynamic modeling projects at all water levels, landscape modeling, near-shore habitat use, and much more.


Relating mesocarnivore relative abundance to anthropogenic land-use with a hierarchical spatial count model

Wayne Thogmartin, Jason Rohweder (UMESC) and from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, published new research describing land cover associated mesocarnivore abundance in the Prairie Pothole Region of the central United States. Mesocarnivores such as the coyote, raccoon, red fox, and striped skunk may inhibit abundance of other species including waterfowl. The authors used a hierarchical Bayesian approach, developing species-habitat models at multiple spatial resolutions to address different ecological and management-related questions. The authors found that the amount of row-crop agriculture was nearly ubiquitous in the best models, exhibiting a positive relationship with relative abundance for each species. The amount of native grassland land-cover was positively associated with coyote and raccoon relative abundance, but generally absent from models for red fox and skunk. Red fox and skunk were positively associated with each other, suggesting potential niche overlap. The authors found no evidence that coyote abundance limited that of other mesocarnivore species, as might be expected under a hypothesis of mesopredator release. Results indicated that mesocarnivores in the PPR are most likely to occur in portions of the landscape with large amounts of agricultural land-cover. Further, results indicated that track-survey data can be used in a hierarchical framework to gain inferences regarding spatial patterns in animal relative abundance.  The manuscript is available online at,

A management-oriented framework for selecting metrics used to assess habitat- and path-specific quality in spatially structured populations

Wayne Thogmartin (UMESC), Diffendorfer, Darius Semmens (GECSC), and collaborators from Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) Land and Water in Australia, University of Arizona, University of Guelph, and University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (Vienna) recently published an article to help managers make the best use of limited resources by narrowing the range of suitable metrics for management of a spatially distributed and mobile species. Mobile species with complex spatial dynamics can be difficult to manage because their population distributions vary across space and time and because the consequences of managing particular habitats are uncertain when evaluated at the level of the entire population. Metrics to assess the importance of habitats and pathways connecting habitats in a network are necessary for guiding a variety of management decisions. Given the many metrics developed for spatially structured models, it can be challenging to select the most appropriate one for a particular decision. To guide the management of spatially structured populations, the authors defined three classes of metrics describing habitat and pathway quality based on their data requirements (graph-based, occupancy-based, and demographic-based metrics) and synopsized the ecological literature relating to these classes. This framework can help managers with problem framing, choosing metrics of habitat and pathway quality, and to elucidate the data needs for a particular metric. The article is available online at


Soils Workshop

Stephanie Sattler (UMESC) attended the Hydric Soils Identification Workshop at Kettle Moraine State Forest - Lepham Peak Unit in Delafield, WI, June 8-10, 2016. This workshop offered through the UW-La Crosse Continuing Education/Extension will explain how to conduct wetland soils fieldwork and fill out the necessary paperwork to be filed for wetland delineations in regards to the soils component. With a mixture of lectures and field activities, there will be a concentration on learning the field indicators of hydric soils, atypical situations, and problem soils.

Grasses, Sedges, and Rushes Workshop

Stephanie Sattler (UMESC) attended the Grasses, Sedges, and Rushes Workshop at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse June 14-15, 2016. This workshop offered through the UW-La Crosse Continuing Education/Extension, uses the combination of lectures and field activities to explain the basics needed to identify grasses, sedges, and rushes.


CO2 – Carbon Dioxide
CRRL – Columbia River Research Laboratory
CSIRO – Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO)
GECSC – Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center
GRSM  – Great Smoky Mountains
LTRM – Long Term Resource Monitoring
LRI – Large rivers Initiative
NPS – National Park Service
REU – Research Experience for Undergraduates
UMESC – Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
UMRR – Upper Mississippi River Restoration
UMRS – Upper Mississippi River System
USGS – U.S. Geological Survey
VMI – Vegetation Mapping Inventory

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