Utah’s Pelican Lake is a hotspot for fishing among locals and tourists alike, but for the past several years it has fallen upon hard times thanks to an invasive species. Recently, officials have been working to alleviate the problem and restore a more balanced ecosystem to the lake. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources regional aquatics manager Trina Hedrick spoke to EM about the process.
“Pelican Lake is a nationally renowned, blue ribbon fishing hole, and has been since the 1970s,” explains Ms. Hedrick.
The most voluminous of the Finger Lakes, Seneca Lake, rests at the heart of the local wine industry. Historically the lake has been a cool, clear body of water, but in recent times harmful algal blooms (HABs) have marred its crisp surface. Dan Corbett, vice president of water quality for the Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association, spoke to EM about what’s being done about HABs in the lake.
“I got engaged in the Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association in 2014 as a volunteer for our stream sampling program, and I have been more and more engaged over time,” explains Mr. Corbett.
In Caribbean waters and into the coastal areas off Florida and Georgia in the United States, an exotic-looking invader is threatening local ecosystems: the lionfish. Unfortunately, lacking natural predators and being dangerous to fish thanks to its painful poisonous spines, lionfish aren’t easy to manage. Now, undergraduate students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) have designed and prototyped an underwater robot that might be able to tackle this invasive species and help local fishermen make a profit, too, as much as $20 per pound.
Since the mid-1960s, Australian officials have noticed an “outbreak” in populations of the crown-of-thorns sea stars (COTS). More and more COTS were living on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) for unknown reasons—and this was a problem because these sea stars feed on live coral. A single COTS eats six to 12 square meters of the GBR annually. What constitutes an “outbreak” on the reef? COTS numbers jumping from around 65 per 10,000 square meters to twice that—and as many as 1,000 animals per 10,000 square meters.
The Animal Health team at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium has been partnering with students from Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering for years, but this last year the partnership expanded to include the projects from Shedd’s conservation scientists. Studying animal behavior in nature can prove challenging, especially when water is involved, but the teams proved they were up to it. Director of freshwater research Dr. Karen Murchie of Shedd Aquarium spoke to EM about the collaboration and the prototypes.
In July of 2016, several divers visiting the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and its coral reefs off the coast of Louisiana and Texas discovered that coral was dying. However, there was also a clear line in the reef. Below it, things were dead, and above it, creatures were surviving. Researchers like Sarah Davies, who had worked on that specific reef since about 2007, wanted to find out what was causing the die-off.
Engaging a Community for Rare Genetic Disease: Best Practices and Education From Individual Crowdfunding Campaigns
Genetic sequencing is critically important to diagnostic health care efforts in the United States today, yet it is still inaccessible to many. Meanwhile, the internet and social networking have made crowdfunding a realistic avenue for individuals and groups hoping to fund medical and research causes, including patients in need of whole exome genetic sequencing (WES).
Biological field stations exist all across the country, and now there is a brand new station in the Ozarks. The Missouri University of Science and Technology‘s Ozark Research Field Station is now open, and director Dr. Robin Verble took the time to speak to EM about the new station.
“We are brand new,” states Dr. Verble, who is the founding director of the station. “The University acquired the property officially at the beginning of January 2017. They spent most of last year doing the search search for a director, and they found me.. . .
In autumn of 2018, the West Fork Watersheds Partnership (WFWP) in the Houston area presented the final version of its “The West Fork San Jacinto River and Lake Creek Watershed Protection Plan” (WPP). The WPP aims to reduce polluting fecal waste in the area which threatens to contaminate drinking water sources in the region. The WFWP comprises local businesses, governmental agencies and individual people who hope to get involved as stakeholders.
Despite sometimes growing to a large size, manta rays feed on tiny zooplankton, microcrustaceans and mesoplankton with a unique filtration apparatus. Now, scientists are working to find out how the rays filter their food through seawater so efficiently with an eye toward revealing their secret.
Most filter feeders in the world’s oceans are sieve filters. These work by moving water past membranes with tiny pores in them that allow water molecules to past membranes with tiny pores in them that allow water molecules to pass through—but not tiny prey such as zooplankton.
For almost a century, researchers and students from the University of Oregon (UO), have been doing marine science on the coast of Southern Oregon. The Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (OIMB) has stood in its permanent location for nearly as long, providing unique opportunities for students and scientists alike. OIMB Education Coordinator Dr. Maya Watts spoke with EM about the lab and the educational and research activities housed there.
Gibraltar’s Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) is using an underwater webcam to launch a unique citizen science project. The aim of the project is to crowdsource observations of local marine life. Mr. Clive Crisp from DECC and Mr. Trevor Mendelow, CEO of View Into The Blue, the company that developed the equipment, described the project to EM. “We believe that engaging the public is key for ocean stewardship and conservation,” explains Mr. Mendelow. “Scientists have always strived to do public outreach, but few tools existed to make that a reality. . ."
Meandering through Southern Minnesota, you’ll find the Minnesota River, which drains all of the state’s lower half. There is also a lot of agriculture in the region, and the people in the area have been working diligently to reduce nutrient pollution in the river. However, progress has been slow.
“You know, we’ve spent millions of dollars on the river, and some types of pollution have not improved,” states Dr. Laura Triplett of Gustavus Adolphus College, an Associate Professor in Geology and Environmental Studies. “The Minnesota River is still terribly impaired.”
North Carolina is a paradise for anyone who loves being on a river or stream—but that’s only true as long as the water quality in those waterways stays good. Criss-crossed with numerous streams and rivers, the state is home to MountainTrue: a dedicated group of people working to protect watershed health in the state. Fortunately for them, they’re not doing that work alone. Southern Regional Director and Green Riverkeeper Gray Jernigan spoke to EM about the volunteer programs run by MountainTrue, and the ways those programs extend the reach of the organization.
The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL) has been a hotspot for a broad range of environmental variability. Perched near Gothic, Colorado, an old mining town, RMBL, affectionately known as “Rumble,” exposes scientists and students to mountain ecosystems at only 1160 meters’ elevation on the bottom of the Black Canyon, all the way to the top of Uncompahgre Peak, at 4360 meters. Sitting pretty atop this natural theater for biodiversity is Executive Director and biologist Ian Billick.