Bird Counts across Michigan

Event Date: 12/14/2017
End Date: 1/5/2018

The longest running citizen science project in the world celebrates its 118th year.

Birders are all bundled up at Tahquamenon Falls in the winter. Photo: Elliot Nelson | Michigan Sea Grant

Birders are all bundled up at Tahquamenon Falls in the winter. Photo: Elliot Nelson | Michigan Sea Grant

In 1900, an ornithologist (aka bird scientist) named Frank Chapman proposed a new holiday tradition, to count birds across the entire country. Conservation was in its early days, and Chapman was concerned about the decline in many of the bird species he loved. Frank Chapman’s idea was to collect data across the country on what birds were present and in what numbers to provide information on how bird populations were changing. Over the years this count, became known as the Christmas Bird Count. The count, which is organized by the National Audubon Society, has gained in popularity. In 1900, there were 24 counts from California to New York. Now there are over 2,500 counts ranging from Antarctica to Brazil to the farthest reaches of Alaska each year.

Fun and serious science

While counting the birds is a fun holiday tradition, the data collected is serious business. The data stored by the National Audubon Society is being used by ornithologists around the world for important research. The information collected in the counts can be used to track how bird populations are changing over time and how habitat changes can effect bird populations.

What is particularly unique about the Christmas Bird Counts is that they are run by volunteers with data collected by ordinary citizens from across the country. Anyone can volunteer to assist a particular count regardless of skill level.

Volunteers still needed

In Michigan there are around 65 counts that take place. Each count is organized on the local level by passionate volunteers or organizations such as Michigan AudubonThe Nature Conservancy and Michigan Sea Grant/Michigan State University Extension.

Each count is held on one day between December 14 and January 5. Many surveys take place during the weekend to attract the most participants and many counts are still looking for volunteers. If you are interested in participating in the Christmas Bird Count you can check out this interactive map to find the count closes to you. You can also contact the Michigan Audubon or one of their local chapters and they can help point you towards a count close to you. For more information on participating in a count read this Michigan Audubon article.

The holidays are a great time of year to get out and experience the outdoors. Why not contribute to science while you are at it?

New video shows anglers how to remove stomachs for fish diet study

Researchers are trying to learn more about what trout, salmon, and walleye are eating in lakes Huron and Michigan. Anglers can help by donating stomachs from their catch.

Fisheries scientists around Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are working on a project led by Dr. Brian Roth at Michigan State University to understand what, and how much, different species of fish are eating. Invasive species such as round goby have damaged the environment, but they also provide food for some gamefish. Quagga mussels have reduced the amount of food in open water areas, but they also provide a food source for round goby.

Last year, much debate focused on alewife, an open water baitfish. This new study should provide better information regarding how many alewife are being consumed by different species including Chinook salmon, coho salmon, Atlantic salmon, lake trout, steelhead, brown trout, and walleye. Some species, such as Chinook salmon, rarely switch to other food sources. On the other hand, fish such as lake trout, brown trout, and walleye readily switch to feeding on bottom-dwelling fish like round goby. Sometimes.

This comprehensive effort will attempt to figure out when and where certain gamefish take advantage of round goby, alewife, and other food sources including invertebrates like opossum shrimp and spiny water flea. In order to get an adequate number of fish from all seasons of the year and all regions of the two lakes, scientists are hoping anglers can pitch in and contribute stomachs for the study. 

How to participate

  • Watch this short video to learn how to collect stomachs. It is very important not to bias the study by collecting only full (or only empty) stomachs.
  • If you are collecting stomachs after a fishing trip, be sure to collect ALL stomachs from each species that you are collecting.
  • It is not necessary to collect stomachs from every fishing trip you take, but stomachs from 2-3 trips per month would be very helpful.

What, when, and where to collect

  • What: Stomachs from all trout and salmon species, and walleye.
  • When: Now through the end of the 2019 fishing season.
  • Where: All waters of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, including large bays like Saginaw Bay and Green Bay, but not including rivers or drowned rivermouth lakes.

What to focus on

Creel census clerks with Michigan DNR, biotechs funded by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and US Geological Survey biologists will be working to collect stomachs at access sites and in conjunction with major fishing tournaments. Anglers can help these agencies to fill in the gaps by contributing stomachs from less-common species, early- and late-season catches, and fish caught at night or in regions that do not get as much coverage by agency personnel.

Some ideas to focus on include:

  • early-season brown trout
  • Green Bay walleye
  • all species in northern Lake Michigan from Grand Traverse Bay north to Manistique
  • mid- to late-summer salmon and trout from St. Joseph north to Saugatuck

All species from all areas of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are appreciated, but these focus areas are particularly important because angler-submitted stomachs may make a critical difference in providing enough stomachs to meet sample size targets.

Materials for stomach collection include:

Data tags, list of freezer drop sites, video and full instructions are also available at www.michiganseagrant.org/diet.

Detroit River Restoration Tour

Event Date: 8/17/2017

The Detroit River has seen its fair share of environmental challenges. Now, after years of dedicated restoration work, the Detroit River and its ecosystems are heading toward recovery.

On August 17, 2017, join the Friends of the Detroit River, Michigan Sea Grant, and our many partners as we celebrate the hard work and dedication of those who have helped shape a new future for the Detroit River. This is your opportunity to visit the habitat restoration sites of Grosse Ile and Belle Isle for an up close, behind the scenes, expert-guided tour.

Highlights of the event include:
 
10 am – Noon, Grosse Ile
  • Boat tour of Stony Island restoration site
  • Coffee and donuts provided
1:30 – 4:30, Belle Isle
  • Lunch and short program in Dossin Museum
  • Meet a live sturgeon
  • Bus tour of Belle Isle restoration sites including Lake Okonoka and Blue Heron Lagoon.

Download the full agenda (PDF)

More information about restoration sites:

Space is limited. Reserve your spot today!

Registration: ow.ly/DiBq30cQDBf

Contact: Mary Bohling, (313) 410-9431, bohling@msu.edu

Hiring Program Coordinator

Event Date: 6/21/2017
End Date: 7/1/2017

Michigan Sea Grant (MISG) is seeking a motivated, organized, and outgoing individual with an understanding of Great Lakes and coastal issues to serve as a Program Coordinator. The right candidate will have a passion for sharing science-based information and be highly collaborative in their work. A combined effort of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, MISG promotes knowledge of the Great Lakes through research, outreach, and education. MISG is part of the NOAA-National Sea Grant network of 33 university-based programs in coastal areas around the country.

See: Details and Apply

Responsibilities

  • Assist with administration of the MISG research program, including:
    • Developing biannual Request for Proposals (RFPs), assisting with proposal review and selection, and coordinating initial and mid-term research meetings.
    • Monitoring research projects through funded period with annual check-in calls and review of progress reports.
    • Coordinating peer review of draft reports, providing summary of reviews to Principal Investigators (PIs), and coordinating publication and promotion of final reports and resources.
    • Assisting with production of annual reports for research program.
    • Providing support and coordination as project liaison for research PIs.
  • Coordinate community outreach projects with Michigan Sea Grant Extension, including:
    • Assisting with preparation, writing, and formatting of project plans, reports, grant proposals, and other documents as needed.
    • Coordinating as project liaison with MISG Extension and communication staff.
    • Coordinating with local communities, including providing logistical support and community analysis.
    • Coordinating and preparing progress and final reports and news briefs.
  • Provide general support for grant projects as needed, including summarizing meetings, activities, and accomplishments, and assisting with project coordination.
  • In collaboration with the MISG team, assist with the development of pre- and full proposals depending on opportunities, research, recommend, and coordinate project team, coordinate and implement work plan, and publish and promote training resources.
  • Assist MISG Extension specialists with promoting the use of educational resources and identifying cooperative efforts.
  • Initiate communications with stakeholders and partners.
  • Provide logistical and administrative support for MISG seminars and events. (Note: Some evening and weekend work and attendance may be required for seminars and events.)
  • Additional duties as may be assigned.

Required Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in a relevant field (e.g., environment policy, natural resource management, water related sciences) and 1 – 3 years’ relevant work experience, or an equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Ability to work independently and to meet a well-defined series of deadlines.
  • Excellent communication and presentation skills.
  • A strong network within the relevant resource management, policy-making, university and/or Great Lakes industry/business communities.
  • Detail oriented with the ability to manage multiple tasks and meet deadlines in a timely manner.
  • Strong computing skills, including Microsoft Office suite and Google apps, online research skills, and general comfort with web-based systems.

Desired Qualifications

  • Grant writing and grant management experience.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills, with ability to work as a team member within established office structures.
  • Creative thinking and desire to contribute to a fun and inspired office environment.
  • Strong organizational skills and attention to detail.

Work Schedule

  • Monday – Friday 8:00am – 5:00pm.
  • Some evening and weekend attendance may be required for MISG seminars and events.

U-M EEO/AA Statement

The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

Regional network honors Michigan Sea Grant with awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

  • Rhett Register, Michigan Sea Grant Communications Lead, (734) 647-0767, rregist@umich.edu
  • Cindy Hudson, Michigan Sea Grant Extension Communications Manager, (517) 353-9723, hudsoncy@msu.edu

CLEVELAND – The Great Lakes Sea Grant Network recently honored the work of the Michigan Sea Grant team with several awards during its semi-annual conference in Cleveland, Ohio. The network connects regional state Sea Grant programs and assists in coordinated efforts to solve problems and manage Great Lakes resources.

Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educator Mary Bohling receives the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network’s mid-career award.

Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educator Mary Bohling receives the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network’s mid-career award.

Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educator Mary Bohling of Detroit received a mid-career award noting her excellent work during her 11-year career. Bohling serves the urban Detroit area and works with diverse populations, coastal communities, nonprofit groups, businesses, researchers and politicians applying science-based knowledge to address Great Lakes issues.

Bohling actively assists nonprofit partners in the preparation and reporting of grants, including numerous successful Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants that have totaled nearly $30 million. Bohling is always looking for creative and interesting ways to get urban youth out on the water or bike trails, including helping to bring the Wilderness Inquiry Canoemobile to Detroit several times.

“Mary Bohling is an excellent extension educator who has strong interaction in her communities and with her colleagues. She is creative and has made — and continues to make — outstanding contributions to Michigan Sea Grant and our state,” said Heather Triezenberg, Michigan Sea Grant Extension program leader.

Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educator Brandon Schroeder receives the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network’s Distinguished Service Award.

Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educator Brandon Schroeder receives the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network’s Distinguished Service Award.

Extension Educator Brandon Schroeder of Alpena was honored with a Distinguished Service Award. Schroeder has been with Michigan Sea Grant for 13 years and serves coastal counties, encompassing 230 miles of Lake Huron shoreline in Michigan’s northeastern Lower Peninsula. Brandon’s programming focuses on the changing Lake Huron fishery, coastal tourism and business development, and youth engagement in coastal community development and stewardship.

Schroeder’s leadership and involvement in many place-based education opportunities, 4-H Great Lakes and Natural Resources Camp, Center for Great Lakes Literacy, and fisheries workshops are just some of the ways he shares his expertise with stakeholders.

“His enthusiasm for his work, combined with a natural curiosity, broad knowledge base, and engaging approach to his work, combine in a way that is unique and extremely effective,” said co-worker Steve Stewart, a senior extension educator.

In addition to these individual awards, Michigan Sea Grant received the Network’s Great Lakes Outreach Programming Award for its Sustainable Small Harbors project.

The Sustainable Small Harbors project, funded by Michigan Sea Grant and a host of partners, aims to assist coastal communities in their planning efforts. The project has enabled six coastal communities with public harbors to do in-depth self-assessments, uncovering strengths and weaknesses related to their waterfront assets and to collaboratively envision their future.

The project has come at a time when harbor towns can capitalize on rebounding tourist dollars and a recovering state economy to make needed waterfront upgrades and add amenities that will increase their appeal to visitors. Team members customized and created highly interactive, public input-driven workshops, or charrettes — typically valued at tens of thousands of dollars — at no direct cost to the six case-study communities involved. The project brought together community decision-makers, harbor managers, infrastructure planners, boaters, business owners and others to come up with meaningful pathways for moving their communities forward.

“The economic and environmental health of small towns along Michigan’s coast is essential to strengthening the state’s economy and environment,” said Jim Diana, Michigan Sea Grant director. “If Michigan thrives, then the Great Lakes region as a whole benefits – and that’s why this program has been so important.”

Sustainable Small Harbor program team members Todd Marsee (left) and Mark Breederland accept the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network’s Outreach Programming Award on behalf of Michigan Sea Grant.

Sustainable Small Harbor program team members Todd Marsee (left) and Mark Breederland accept the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network’s Outreach Programming Award on behalf of Michigan Sea Grant.

Team members for the Sustainable Small Harbors project from Michigan Sea Grant included Mark Breederland, Catherine Riseng, Amy Samples and Todd Marsee. Don Carpenter from Lawrence Technological University was principal investigator. Other partners included:

Michigan State University Extension; Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of the Great Lakes; Michigan Department of Natural Resources Waterways Program; Michigan Development Corporation; Michigan State Housing Development Authority; Environmental Consulting and Technology, LLC; Veritas Environmental Consulting, LLC; David L. Knight, LLC; Edgewater Resources, LLC; Richard Neumann, architect; Constance Bodurow, designer.

Michigan Sea Grant helps to foster economic growth and protect Michigan’s coastal, Great Lakes resources through education, research and outreach. A collaborative effort of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University and its MSU Extension, Michigan Sea Grant is part of the NOAA-National Sea Grant network of 33 university-based programs.

Sustainable Small Harbors Webinar

Event Date: 5/8/2017

Michigan Sea Grant to host webinar about Sustainable Small Harbors project findings and next steps

On May 8 at 2–3:30 p.m. EDT, Michigan Sea Grant will host a webinar titled, “The Sustainable Small Harbors Project: Helping coastal communities re-imagine their waterfront.”

This webinar will provide an overview of the Sustainable Small Harbors project, an initiative to boost the long-term well-being of Michigan’s coastal communities. All people involved in coastal communities, both in and outside of Michigan, are invited to participate.

The Sustainable Small Harbors project arose in 2014 when many of Michigan’s small coastal communities were struggling to cope with fluctuating water levels, declining populations, and economic instability. The project research team (consisting of Lawrence Technological University, Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc., Veritas Economic Consulting, LLC, and David Larkin Knight, LLC) has assessed barriers preventing small harbor communities from becoming socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable.

Members of the project research team along with personnel from Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension facilitated in-depth visioning workshops in six coastal communities to help community members identify potential growth areas for their waterfronts. By May 2017, the team will publish a guidebook to help other coastal communities analyze their own waterfront assets and develop strategies to bolster their long-term economic, social, and environmental stability.

“This effort empowers communities to overcome the burdens of their historic legacies,” says Jon Allan, director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of the Great Lakes. “The process engaged community members in constructive conversations to create a shared vision.”

The 90-minute webinar will provide an overview of the project’s history, major findings and outcomes, and future directions. Representatives from the cities of New Baltimore and Ontonagon will speak about their experiences with the project. The webinar will conclude with an open question-and-answer session.

Registration is required to participate in this webinar, scheduled for May 8, 2017, at 2–3:30 p.m. EDT. Please register at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8474664373942398467

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with details about joining the webinar. Learn more about the project at: www.sustainablesmallharbors.org

Contact: Rhett Register, Michigan Sea Grant; (734) 647-0767, rregist@umich.edu 

Seminar: Fish Spawning Reef Planning Techniques

Event Date: 5/15/2017

reef-restoration-graphic

This seminar will be held in conjunction with the International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR) 2017 conference in Detroit. You do not need to register for IAGLR to participate.

A number of factors, including construction of shipping channels, land use changes and dams, have degraded rocky fish spawning habitat or made it inaccessible to native, migratory fish. One method for compensating for spawning habitat losses is to construct fish spawning reefs, essentially beds of loose rock placed on the river bottom that provide adequate protection and flow through the rocks for egg incubation. Though simple in concept, reef projects need to be carefully sited and designed to avoid accumulating sediment, attract desired fish and support young fish through the critical early life stages.

This team- taught seminar will share techniques developed through eight reef projects established in the St. Clair and Detroit River System over the past fifteen years. Specific topics will include: site assessment and selection, hydrodynamics and sedimentation concerns, reef design and construction strategies and monitoring of early life stages of fish.

One highlight of the workshop will be a practical lesson on river hydraulics and sediment transport and a hand-on exercise with free river modeling software, led by a scientist from the USGS Geomorphology and Sediment Transport Lab. This interactive seminar is open to all types of restoration practitioners, including professional engineers, project managers, researchers and anyone hoping to champion, design or monitor a constructed spawning reef in Great Lakes nearshore areas, connecting channels or larger rivers.

Date: Monday, May 15, 2017
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Location: IAGLR’s Great Lakes Research Conference, Cobo Center Room 258, 1 Washington Blvd, Detroit, Michigan
Continuing Education: Seminar participants will receive a certificate showing they completed 7 hours of continuing education suitable for professional license renewals.
Cost: $75 for professionals, $30 for students 
Registration deadline: 5:00 p.m., May 10, 2017
Cancellation: No refunds will be issued for cancellations after May 5.

For professionals ($75):
 

For students ($30):

For questions, contact:
Lynn Vaccaro
University of Michigan Water Center
Lvaccaro@umich.edu
(734) 763-0056

SCDRS Annual Meeting

Event Date: 3/2/2017

“Charting the Course for Action in the St. Clair-Detroit River System”

Thursday March 2, 2017

Weber’s Inn, Ann Arbor, Michigan

9:00 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST, Registration opens at 8:30 a.m.

On behalf of the St. Clair – Detroit River System (SCDRS) Initiative Steering Committee, I would like to invite you to join us at the 2017 Annual Meeting. The week of January 30th, which will include a draft agenda, registration information, the briefing book form and instructions, hotel information, and other relevant materials for your consideration and review before the Annual Meeting.

Agenda topics include:

  • Steering, Science & Monitoring, and Communications Committee updates
  • Priority Objectives, Indicators Status Update & Discussion on Fisheries, Habitat, AIS, Areas of Concern, Contaminants, and Nutrients

We are hoping to have participation from a variety of organizations and interests working in the SCDRS to continue to help inform our collective path moving forward. Registration will be limited to 50 attendees, so please plan to register early.

If your organization is interested in being a sponsor of the workshop, please contact Mary Bohling at bohling@anr.msu.edu.

For more information on the SCDRS Initiative, see the website at: http://scdrs.org

Contact: Michelle Selzer
SCDRS Initiative Communications Subcommittee
Lake Erie Coordinator
Michigan Office of the Great Lakes
(517) 284-5050
selzerm@michigan.gov

 

Request for Pre-proposals

Event Date: 3/3/2017

pictured-rocks-national-lakeshore-612px

Michigan Sea Grant is soliciting proposals for innovative research projects and graduate fellowships for the 2018-2020 funding period. Michigan Sea Grant sends out RFPs for research projects every two years. Michigan Sea Grant will support three types of research this funding cycle:

  • Integrated Assessment – Research that uses Integrated Assessment methods to address important social and ecological issues affecting the Great Lakes, up to $75,000 per year for two years.
  • Core Research – Basic core research on issues currently affecting the Great Lakes ecosystem, up to $100,000 per year for two years.
  • Graduate Student Research Fellowships – Graduate student (M.S. or Ph.D.) research fellowships for one or two years, up to $50,000 total per fellowship.

Funding for Integrated Assessment and Core Research will support two-year projects that begin February 1, 2018, and end by January 31, 2020. Fellowships may begin in 2018 (one or two year period) or 2019 (one year period).

Qualified researchers at accredited Michigan universities are eligible to be Principal Investigators on MISG-funded projects. Graduate fellowships will support a graduate student enrolled at an accredited Michigan university with support of a faculty member from that institution.

All proposals require a 50 percent non-federal match (one non-federal dollar for every two federal dollars requested). Funding is contingent upon NOAA approval and congressional appropriation of funds.

The deadline for Integrated Assessment and Core Research pre-proposals is 5 p.m. March 3, 2017 (EST).

Graduate Student Research Fellowship proposals are due by 5 p.m. on May 26, 2017. Funding decisions will be announced early September 2017.

For details on these opportunities, see: www.miseagrant.umich.edu/research/funding-information

Setting the record straight on alligator gar and Asian carp

Reintroduction of gar has nothing to do with Asian carp, Illinois DNR says

Researchers in Illinois used gastric lavage to flush stomach contents from young alligator gar to find out what the fish eats. Photo credit: Nathan Grider

Researchers in Illinois used gastric lavage to flush stomach contents from young alligator gar to find out what the fish eats. Photo credit: Nathan Grider

On May 31, 2016, the Illinois Senate voted unanimously to adopt a resolution urging the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to expedite the reintroduction of alligator gar and develop protections for all four native gar species. The Illinois House of Representatives had unanimously passed the same resolution three weeks earlier. This resolution specifically states that “alligator gar is our only native species capable of eating adult Asian carp.”

According to Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Chief of Fisheries Dan Stephenson, this statement is misleading. Under his leadership, IDNR moved to reinstate the stocking program in January of 2016 after a two-year hiatus. Stephenson states, “Our stockings have never had anything to do with Asian carp. We see this as an opportunity to bring back a native species from extirpation, add an apex predator and introduce a potentially very large sportfish for our anglers.”

Earlier reintroduction efforts in Illinois provided an opportunity to study young gar in floodplain lakes where they were stocked. From 2010 to 2013 a total of 6,000 alligator gar were stocked in Illinois, but of these only 1,500 were large enough (12-18 inches) to avoid predators and survive. That is a proverbial ‘drop in the bucket’ relative to Asian carp that are measured in terms of tons per river mile.

According to Stephenson, “It’s a numbers game and the alligator gar will never be found in the numbers to suppress the [Asian carp] population. In addition, the gape on an alligator gar, even a very large one, will not allow the fish to take very large prey. So for the first three months of the Asian carp’s life it would be susceptible to alligator gar predation but after that they are too large.”

Research on young gar stocked in Illinois supports this. Nathan Grider studied alligator gar diet as part of his thesis work at University of Illinois Springfield, under the direction of Dr. Michael Lemke. At Merwin Preserve, the only prey item found in 17 alligator gar stomachs was gizzard shad. Gizzard shad were the most abundant species at the preserve and Asian carp were extremely rare. Largemouth bass, crappies and various species of sunfish were common, but none of these popular gamefish were found in the stomachs of Illinois alligator gar.

Young alligator gar at Merwin Preserve in Illinois ate shad ranging from 4 to 10 inches long. Although gar in the Illinois study were not full-grown, earlier research from the Gulf Coast suggests that alligator gar in the 4 ½ to 7 foot range also prefer to eat fish that are only 8 to 12 ½ inches long. Grider, who now works for Illinois DNR, states that alligator gar, “would not turn down the opportunity eat an Asian carp of appropriate size, up to 12.5 inches or so. But the reality is that there will simply not be enough of them to put noticeable pressure on the dense Asian carp population in our expansive open river system and Asian carp can quickly outgrow their preferred prey size.”

There you have it. Alligator gar are not being stocked to save us from the advance of Asian carp, but perhaps all of this media attention will ultimately help people appreciate alligator gar for what they are. In the past they were seen as a threat to gamefish, but gar are native predators that typically prey on abundant non-game fish like shad.

Alligator gar also are impressive gamefish in their own right. As Stephenson puts it, “regardless of the Asian carp impact, the reintroduction of alligator gar is a great story.”