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Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center

July 2017 Activity Highlights
Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
La Crosse, Wisconsin

Topics covered in the July activity report.

Collaborative Science

Accuracy Assessment Site Visit: Great Smoky Mountains Mapping Project

Stephanie Sattler (UMESC) joined Troy Evans (NPS-GRSM) to check-in on the progress of the Accuracy Assessment for the Great Smoky Mountains (GRSM) National Park Vegetation Mapping Project in Gatlinburg, TN, July 10-13, 2017. The check-in ensured the proper data collection techniques are being used and address any questions or issues from the field crews. UMESC is creating a series of geospatial datasets for the GRSM National Park, for the NPS Vegetation Mapping Inventory Program (Stephanie Sattler,, Ecosystems).

Controlling the Spread of Invasive Zebra Mussels

On July 7, UMESC scientists initiated pretreatment survey work for non-enclosed Zequanox applications, to assess the efficacy and non-target animal impacts of unbarriered open-water Zequanox applications for controlling dreissenid mussels in high-value areas such as native mussel beds. In addition, the USGS will determine the benefits/impacts to native Unionids by monitoring changes in the number of zebra mussels adhering to the Unionids, and monitoring glycogen levels as a sub lethal measure of stress and body condition. Project partners will be involved in the evaluation of water quality, aquatic insect, and algae community responses related to the Zequanox applications.  The project, “Furthering Restoration via a New Approach to Invasive Mussel Control,” is a GLRI funded project awarded to the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council (TOMWC) of Northern Michigan. The project is a collaborative effort with the TOMWC, USGS, Marrone Bio Innovations (MBI), Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Columbus State University, the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and Bowling Green State University. The USGS and MBI plan to conduct four Zequanox applications in late July, to assess the treatment efficacy through measurements of Zequanox concentration and by assessing the mortality of zebra mussels within the 0.30 hectare treatment plots (James Luoma,, Ecosystems).

Great Smoky Mountains Mapping Project Update

Andrew Strassman, Erin Hoy, and Kevin Hop (UMESC) joined Great Smoky Mountains (GRSM) staff and Tom Govus (NatureServe) to conduct a field reconnaissance of the vegetation within the Tennessee-side of GRSM, July 17-28, 2017. Field work involved the comparison of aerial imagery signatures to ground conditions while simultaneously testing the key to vegetation communities for functionality and consistency. The GRSM Vegetation Mapping Project is a part of the National Park Service Vegetation Mapping Inventory Program (Kevin Hop,, Ecosystems).

Sea Lamprey Control in the Great Lakes

Mike Boogaard, Nick Schloesser, and Todd Johnson (UMESC) traveled to the Brule River in Douglas County, WI to collect larval sea lampreys for two upcoming studies, July 17-21, 2017.  The first study involved evaluating the avoidance behavior of larval sea lampreys in response to the lampricides TFM and Bayluscide®.  This study is part of a broader effort to evaluate the feasibility of developing a Bayluscide® bar formulation for use in sea lamprey control operations in Great Lakes tributaries.  The second study will examine the influence of stream pH and alkalinity on the toxicity of a TFM:1% Bayluscide® mixture on juvenile lake sturgeon.  Larval sea lampreys will be tested concurrently with juvenile lake sturgeons for direct toxicological comparison to determine the risk of sea lamprey treatments on this species of special concern.  Previous studies have indicated that lake sturgeons may be vulnerable to lampricides at the concentrations applied to Great Lakes tributaries during sea lamprey control operations (Mike Boogaard,, Ecosystems). 

Publications and Tools

Incorporating Allee Effects into the Potential Biological Removal Level

An NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates investigated how including an Allee effect (i.e., low population densities that limit recruitment) impact potential biological removal (PBR). They found PBR may not be protective enough if an Allee effect is present. PBR is a framework used by NOAA to issue take permits under the Marine Mammal Protection Act; by USGS Scientists to develop a framework to assess the impacts of wind energy on wildlife; and by the USFWS when issuing endangered species take permits for bat species. The students were mentored by Richard Erickson (USGS, UMESC) and Eric Eager (UWL), with additional contributions from Jay Diffendorefer (USGS, GESCS).  The students are from, University of Minnesota-Morris, The University of the South (TN), The George Washington University (DC), and California State University-Channel Islands. An early release version of the publication is available online at, (Richard Erickson,, Ecosystems).

Assessing the contribution of the North American Breeding Bird Survey to Conservation

Ken Rosenberg (Cornell lab of Ornithology), Peter Blancher (Environment and Climate Change Canada), Jessica Stanton (UMESC), and Arvind Panjabi (Bird Conservation of the Rockies) reviewed the utility of data collected by the North American Breeding Bird Survey to the Partners in Flight (PIF) species assessment process. This assessment process forms the basis for PIF's continental and regional planning and has informed the prioritization ranking and legal status of bird species for protection by state, provincial, and national agencies in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. The paper is available online, at (Jessica Stanton,, Ecosystems).

Scientific Meetings, Conferences, and Workshops

Great Lakes Sea Duck Symposium

Kevin Kenow and Luke Fara (UMESC) participated in the Great Lakes Sea Duck Symposium at Winous Point Marsh Conservancy in Port Clinton, OH, July 9-11, 2017.  Kenow presented, “Distribution and Relative Abundance of Migrating and Wintering Sea Ducks on Lake Michigan,” based on aerial surveys conducted by UMESC during 2009-2014. Fara presented an update on long-tailed duck research currently underway on Lake Michigan. The Great Lakes Sea Duck Symposium was created to develop and maintain a community of scientists, managers, administrators, and other stakeholders that share information and develop action items aimed at increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of science-based conservation and monitoring of sea ducks using the Great Lakes (Kevin Kenow,, Ecosystems).

Partners in Flight International Science Committee Meeting

Jessica Stanton (UMESC) presented and lead a discussion on incorporating uncertainty in North American landbird population size estimates, at the annual meeting of the Partners in Flight (PIF) International Science Committee Meeting, July 11-13, 2017, at the Cornell Lab of Ornitholog in Ithaca, NY. Stanton will discuss the sources of uncertainty and how incorporating uncertainty in population size estimates impacts the PIF species assessment scores (Jessica Stanton,, Ecosystems).

Monarch Butterfly Research: Designing a Robust Monitoring Scheme for Natural Resources at a Continental Scale

Emily Weiser (UMESC) presented, “Designing a Robust Monitoring Scheme for Natural Resources at a Continental Scale,” during a special symposium on Statistical Challenges and Opportunities for Supporting National Ecological Monitoring Programs, at the Joint Statistical Meetings in Baltimore, MD, July 29-August 3, 2017. The presented work focused on monarch butterflies and the resources that sustain them, conducted in collaboration with co-authors Jay Diffendorfer, Darius Semmens (GECSC), Wayne Thogmartin (UMESC), and Laura López-Hoffman (The University of Arizona) (Emily Weiser,, Ecosystems).

American Ornithological Society Meeting

Kevin Kenow (UMESC) was coauthor on two presentations at the joint meeting of the American Ornithological Society and Society of Canadian Ornithologists, July 23-August 5, 2017, in East Lansing, MI. Aerial surveys of waterbirds using Lake Michigan during the non-breeding season conducted by UMESC personnel during 2011-2013 are incorporated into the analyses that serve as the bases for these presentations (Kevin Kenow,, Ecosystems).

Statistical Challenges, and Opportunities for Supporting National Ecological Monitoring Programs

Brian Gray (UMESC) served as the discussant of presentations at a special symposium on Statistical Challenges and Opportunities for Supporting National Ecological Monitoring Programs, at the Joint Statistical Meetings in Baltimore, MD, July 29-August 3, 2017. The symposium was chaired by Kathi Irvine (NOROCK), and included the presentation, “Designing a Robust Monitoring Scheme for Natural Resources at a Continental Scale,” for monarch butterflies and the resources that sustain them (Emily Weiser (UMESC), Darius Semmens (GECSC) and Wayne Thogmartin (UMESC) co-authors).  Gray also co-lead a discussion of methods to address challenges to environmental and ecological statisticians arising from geographical isolation from other statisticians. Such challenges may be faced by statisticians and quantitative scientists within DOI (Brian Gray,, Ecosystems). 


DOI – Department of the Interior
GECSC – Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center
GLRI – Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
GRSM – Great Smokey Mountains
MBI – Marrone Bio Innovations
NOAA – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
NOROCK – Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
NPS – National Park Service
NSF – National Science Foundation
PBR – Potential Biological Removal
PIF – Partners in Flight
TFM – 3-trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol
TOMWC – Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council
UMESC – Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
USFWS – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
USGS – U.S. Geological Survey
UWL – University of Wisconsin at La Crosse

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