Fighting Phragmites by Satellite, Exotic Earthworms, and State of the Great Lake Huron

As heard Dec. 21, 2012, 9 a.m. Eastern on Delta Q-90.1 FM, unless the world ends. 

Photo by Steve Jurvetson
Photo by Steve Jurvetson

1- A project that used satellites to map Great Lakes wetland may go a long way to help control phragmites.

Towering, invasive plants known as phragmites have sprouted up along shorelines throughout the lakes, including in Saginaw Bay.

The map, created over a three years, shows the locations of large stands of phragmites located within about six miles of the water’s edge throughout the five Great Lakes, according to officials from Michigan Technological University.

Lakes Huron and Erie had the greatest amount of phragmites.

The map is the first of its kind. The lead author, with the Michigan Tech Research Institute in Ann Arbor, says the data will allow resource managers to visualize the extent of the phragmites invasion in the Great Lakes, and strategically plan efforts to manage existing populations and minimize new ones.

What’s more, the map can be used to create models that predict future invasion areas, and target control efforts.

(For more, see the Journal of Great Lakes Research.)


2 – A new State of the Great Lakes report is out, offering a look at water quality and quantity, recovery efforts, and other issues.

The annual report comes from the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes, and covers the year 2012.

This year’s State of the Great Lakes report (pdf) focuses on Michigan efforts to improve water quality, best use water resources, fight aquatic invasive species, and restore degraded areas.

Sections detail efforts to protect and restore coastal areas. Experts are featured from estate and federal resource agencies, Michigan Sea Grant, universities, and environmental organizations.

For Lake Huron, the report notes several items:

  • The highest phosphorus concentrations in Lake Huron are in Saginaw Bay, where shoreline beach muck problems have persisted.
  • The lake’s food web has “changed dramatically” in the past decade, and the most productive zones have shifted from offshore to nearshore areas, affecting which fish species dominate the lake.
  • The Nature Conservancy is working to identify watershed-based priorities to help conserve migratory river-spawning fish in the basin.

3 – Earthworms introduced from Europe may be adversely affecting the forested ecosystems of Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw County.

That’s according to a study published in the most recent Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management.

The Journal article is on a study involving the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The study showed that the Shiawassee Refuge had the second-largest mean biomass of exotic earthworms of six Upper Midwestern refuges surveyed.

According to an abstract, the invasion of exotic earthworms into forest of the Upper Midwest region is a concern, because the worms act as ecosystem engineers and can modify existing systems.

Those modifications can degrade habitat used by some migratory birds.

– – – 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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