Habitats and Ecosystems
Coastal areas provide essential habitat for numerous species of fish, waterfowl, migratory birds and mammals. But the continuing development of our coastlines has destroyed much of our wetlands, degraded water quality and severely stressed ecosystems. Understanding the complex dynamics between terrestrial and aquatic environments is critical to resource quality, sustainability and management in the Great Lakes region.


State of the Bay 2013 Report

The State of the Bay 2013 Report
“State of the Bay: The Condition of the Bay of Green Bay/Lake Michigan 2013” is the first comprehensive look at the ecological health of the region in 20 years. It offers details on the bay’s “dead zone,” the effect of aquatic invasive species, the good news about walleye and more. Read more...


Cat Island Chain Restoration

Cat Island Chain Information
A plan is underway to restore a chain of islands in southern Green Bay that were washed away in the 1970s. Read more...


The beginning
On June 1, 2012, crews began work to restore the Cat Island chain. Read more...


Potential Climate Change Impacts on the Bay of Green Bay - An Assessment Report

Climate change poses new threats to Green Bay and its resources because it may alter the impacts of already existing stresses on the ecosystem. As part of the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts, a Green Bay Ecosystem Working Group was formed and held several workshops during 2008-10. The Working Group assessment report identifies existing stresses and vulnerabilities of the Green Bay ecosystem, suggests how climate change may affect key ecosystem components, and proposes adaptation strategies for mitigating impacts. Read more...


Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve (LSNERR)

The River Talks

A free, informal speaker series about the St. Louis River Estuary in Duluth-Superior and a cooperative project between the Wisconsin and Minnesota Sea Grant programs and the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Grab a mug of coffee or maybe a glass of beer and learn about the St. Louis River at the same time. Scientists, businesses, and agency staff who work and depend on the St. Louis River Estuary will share their thoughts and information about river projects each month during the academic year. But the evening presentations won’t be a one-way street. You’ll get to ask questions and share your thoughts, too.

Read more...


Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve (LSNERR)
A 16,697-acre area of freshwater marshes, uplands and river on the shores of Lake Superior in Wisconsin has become the 28th member of the NOAA's National Estuarine Research Reserve System in a designation ceremony at Superior in October, 2010.  The Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve is located in Douglas County, in the northwestern corner of Wisconsin where the St. Louis River flows into Lake Superior. Read more...


South Bay Marina Habitat Enhancement

Completed in 2003, South Bay marina in Green Bay is not just a marina, but features a variety of habitat enhancements. Read more...


Videos

Julia Noordyk: Helping Coastal Communities
Julia Noordyk, Wisconsin Sea Grant's Green Bay-based coastal storms outreach specialist, has been with the organizaiton two years. But she's just begun to get her feet wet. Read more...


Revitalizing Local Waterfront Economies
This video outlines the Great Lakes Legacy Act and highlights benefits it brings to communities. Read more...


Sheboygan River: A Little Patience, A Big Payback
In the summer of 2012, the cleanup of the Sheboygan River got underway. The benefits to the community will be enormous--but through 2012, some patience will be required. Crews will be working around the clock to dredge the river, clean up contaminated sediment and restore wildlife habitat. Read more...


What Will Round Gobies Do to Great Lakes Streams?
Researchers investigated just what kind of impact the round gobies might be having in streams flowing into the Great Lakes. Using nets and a portable electro-fishing system, they sampled and analyzed goby populations at 150 different stream locations along Wiscosins' Lake Michigan coast. Read more...


Are Flame Retardants Harming Frogs?
In Dr. William Karasov's lab, the frog is front and center in a series of research experiments, funded in part by the UW Sea Grant Institute, designed to explore how environmental toxins may be affecting the frog's immune system, growth and development. Read more...


How Many Sport Fish Can Lake Michigan Support?
A research project is finding out how invasive species may be changing the food web in Lake Michigan. Read more...


Beyond the Usual Suspects
E. coli bacteria sometimes contaminates the waters of Bradford Beach in Milwaukee. Where does it come from? How can it be reduced? Dr. Sandra MacLellan cracks the case. Read more...


Part 1: All Washed Up, Lake Michigan's Algae Challenge
See what effect excessive algae is having on beaches, homeowners, and industry. Read more...


See More Videos on Habitats and Ecosystems
Read more...


Research

Molecular Genetic Analysis of Zooplankton Community Structure in Lake Michigan

Russell Cuhel, UW-Milwaukee, (414) 382-1711, rchuel@uwm.edu
Rebecca Klaper, UW-Milwaukee, (414) 382-1713, rklaper@uwm.edu
Carmen Aguilar, UW-Milwaukee, (414) 382-1755, aguilar@uwm.edu

More than a decade of fisheries collapse in Lake Michigan has eradicated significant commercial and sport fishing businesses and upset the traditional food web. Although the near extirpation of planktivorous forage fish in the mid-2000s coincides a massive reduction in phytoplankton (largely brought about by Dreissenid mussels), the link between phytoplankton and juvenile and/or forage fish is not well developed. This proposal offers to construct a genetic sequence library of commonly occurring freshwater zooplankton of Lake Michigan; to establish the validity of preservation techniques for the genetic material; to attempt molecular analysis of species composition, richness, and diversity using sequence analysis side-by-side with microscopic enumeration; and to assess the likelihood that alcohol-preserved collections coinciding with hydrographic and biogeochemical time series can be queried to examine known forcing functions of zooplankton abundance and community structure. R/SFA-12




Carbon Fixation in Lake Michigan

Harvey Bootsma, UW-Milwaukee, (414) 382-1717, hbootsma@uwm.edu

Accurate measurements of carbon fixation and the physical and chemical forces that regulate it are fundamental to any ecosystem-based management program. Recent declines in the abundance of both forage fish and apex predators in Lake Michigan appear to be related to the loss of phytoplankton resulting from grazing by dreissenids. Dreissenid-mediated changes in nutrient cycling also appear to have altered the relationship between nutrient loading, phytoplankton production, and phytoplankton biomass. However, quantitative measures of photosynthetic carbon fixation and carbon dynamics at the base of the Lake Michigan food web are very limited, and so it has been difficult to define the response of the phytoplankton community to changes in external nutrient loading and internal nutrient cycling in quantitative terms. This research will improve our understanding of these relationships and help guide the revision of nutrient management models. R/HCE-28




Refining Our Understanding of Methylmercury Production and Bioavailability in the St. Louis River Estuary

Matthew Ginder-Vogel, UW-Madison, (608) 262-0768, mgindervogel@wisc.edu
Kristofer Rolfhus, UW-La Crosse, (608) 262-0768, krolfhus@uwlax.edu

The St. Louis River Estuary (SLRE) is a valuable fish spawning ground for the western arm of Lake Superior. However, preliminary data suggest that higher mercury levels are found in walleye that feed within the SLRE than those that feed in Lake Superior. Methylmercury (MeHg), the bioaccumulative form of mercury, is primarily produced by microbial activity in anaerobic wetlands, soils and sediments that are abundant in estuarine environments, such as the SLRE. Although the underlying cause of elevated mercury levels in fish in the SLRE is unknown, it is likely due to a combination of biogeochemical factors including solid-phase Hg speciation, coupled with variations in water chemistry (e.g., dissolved sulfate and organic carbon). Developing an understanding of these fundamental biogeochemical processes is critical to the ability of resource management agencies to make effective decisions concerning the beneficial use of future dredging materials and habitat restoration in the SLRE. R/HCE-30




Outreach

Enriching the Lifestyle for Carnivores at the Milwaukee County Zoo
The goal of this project is to provide the necessary stimulation to trigger predatory behavior by introducing live prey organisms such as fin fish. As a result, the animals exhibit behavior patterns that are more natural such as hunting, stalking, aggression and capture. Different food presentation scenarios are being explored to determine the best
approach to challenge animals’ natural instincts and intelligence. This project represents a unique opportunity to utilize the “Aquaculture Tool Box” and most advanced biosecurity practices to produce fin fish to support this special application.



Related Publications

State of the Bay 2013
For the most recent information about water quality, fish and wildlife populations, aquatic invasive species, beach conditions and the status of contaminants in Green Bay, Wisconsin, see this free downloadable publication. Read more...


Related Websites

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)

Wisconsin is the beneficiary of funding made available under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a $475 million program to restore fish and wildlife habitat, clean up toxic pollution, reduce nonpoint source pollution, and control and prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes.  Wisconsin Sea Grant will be involved in several projects that are regional in nature and will be implemented with multiple partners.  They are: 

  • developing a beach information communication system
  • developing a regional public outreach campaign on aquatic invasive species
  • developing a regional green marina education and outreach project
  • expanding our understanding of the Lake Michigan food web
  • Read more...


    Migratory Birds of the Great Lakes
    Learn about field identification, habitats, migration, conservation status, nests and eggs, songs, and issues challenging 20 species of Great Lakes migratory birds. Read more...


    Frogs
    Visit this website to learn facts about frogs, field identification, and take quizzes about frogs, plus this website includes various activities for kids and teachers. Read more...


    Coastal Wetlands of Wisconsin's Great Lakes: A Data Compilation and Assessment
    This Wisconsin DNR website provides information on wetland sites throughout the coastal regions of Wisconsin. Read more...


    Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas
    Visit the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology's website to access information (maps, data, images) about bird species breeding in the state. Read more...


    Great Lakes Birding and Nature Trails
    Wisconsin DNR's website allows you to download birding trail guides for different regions in the state including Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. Read more...


    State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference (SOLEC)
    The State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conferences (SOLEC) and State of the Great Lakes reports are produced jointly by the U. S. EPA and Environment Canada. They provide independent, science-based reporting on the state of the health of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem.  For information on the conference and to access the reports, Read more...


    Wisconsin's Water Library
    Established in 1964 by the UW Water Resources Institute, Wisconsin's Water Library (formerly known as the Water Resources Library) is unique among UW-Madison's many libraries for its collection of almost 30,000 volumes of water-related information about the Great Lakes and the waters of Wisconsin. The library includes a curriculum collection, dozens of educational videos, a children's collection, and more than 20 journals and 100 newsletters. Read more...

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