For our second installment of our AIS Professional Q+A, we spoke with James Johnson, a UW-Madison and University of Minnesota alum and founder and lead scientist for Freshwater Scientific Services, LLC, a consultancy that specializes in aquatic plant surveys, lake management planning, and water quality studies.
I grew up fishing and snorkeling with my dad on small lakes in Wisconsin and spent a lot of time on Madeline Island in Lake Superior, so I have many fond memories of being around big and small lakes. At the time I had no idea that a person could have a job working on lakes. When I started college at UW-Madison, I wanted to be an engineer, but I soon realized that although I loved the problem-solving and technical aspects of engineering, my real love was biology and working outdoors. So I switched my major to Zoology and Conservation. Being at a great lake school like Madison, I got a lot of exposure to fisheries, limnology, and marine biology courses and I just fell in love with this line of work.
Like most things in 2020, Meg Duhr's first few months at MAISRC didn’t exactly go to plan. As our first ever research outreach coordinator, Meg's role is to build connections with managers, residents, and researchers. After only a few weeks in the office, she found herself in a statewide stay-at-home order. However, looking forward to the rest of summer 2021, Meg will be back on the road and sharing our research with lake associations, local governments, and more!
Meg joined MAISRC after working as a manager and biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service for over ten years. A native of Green Lake, Wisconsin, Meg spent the majority of her time on wildlife refuges in the Pacific Northwest and the remote Pacific islands, working on habitat restoration and battling invasive species. Fortunately for us, Meg is an avid cross country skier and has confirmed that she is more than happy to be back in the land of 10,000 lakes despite the frosty winters.
Most of you have heard of scientific researchers, you may even know one personally, but what exactly do they do? As a scientific researcher myself, I am excited to share a behind-the-scenes look at my work as a MAISRC Graduate Fellow.
But, before I start explaining my project and work at MAISRC, let me tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Holly Kundel and I just completed my first year in the Conservation Sciences graduate program at the University of Minnesota. I’m from Forest Lake, Minnesota and I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors. It wasn’t until I went to Augsburg University in Minneapolis that I realized that I could make a career for myself that wove together my favorite topics of biology and the outdoors. While at Augsburg, I learned how much I enjoy doing fieldwork while sampling for dragonflies in ponds in the St. Croix River Valley. My research experiences as an undergraduate and my passion for freshwater ecology lead me to Dr. Gretchen Hansen’s lab at the University of Minnesota where I joined MAISRC.
MAISRC Project Background and Goals
My project with MAISRC hopes to quantify the impact that invasive zebra mussels have on walleye recruitment. Recruitment refers to when walleye enter the fishery, meaning they are now large enough to be caught by anglers.
Summer is in full-swing and the growing season for native and invasive aquatic plants is well underway. It’s the time of year when managers, survey professionals, and applicators are busy doing surveys, delineations, and aquatic weed treatments. These activities take place at hundreds of lakes every year in Minnesota and along the way yield a tremendous amount of data. At the individual lake level, the information gained from a survey is used to plan a treatment area or evaluate the efficacy of a previous treatment, document baseline plant communities, or map the occurrence of native and invasive plant species across a lake. One type of survey that is of particular interest to MAISRC researchers is a point-intercept survey. That’s because this is a standardized level of survey effort and a repeatable method of data collection that can be used to look at trends across multiple lakes and over time.
You're never too old or too young to help protect Minnesota's waters from aquatic invasive species. This past August, a new population of golden clams, Corbicula fluminea, was discovered by twelve-year-old budding conservationist, William Guthrie. The new infestation was found in Briggs Lake (Sherburne County) while the Guthrie family participated in Starry Trek, an annual event where volunteers from across the state search for starry stonewort and other aquatic invasive species.
Golden clams have been found in Minnesota in the past, but mainly in rivers where power plants discharge their cooling water—therefore keeping the surrounding water warmer year-round.
The discovery of golden clams in Briggs Lake is significant because it is an inland lake with no supplemental heat source. If the clams can survive our winter months, they could also spread and reproduce in additional lakes and rivers. Similar to zebra mussels, infestations of golden clams can clog water intake pipes and alter local ecosystems.
Starry Trek returns this August, as a new crew of volunteers will set out to explore new lakes, seek out new AIS, and to boldly go where no volunteer has gone before (ok, maybe not that last one). On Saturday, August 21st, volunteers will rendezvous at local training sites across the state to receive training on sampling and identifying aquatic plants and AIS before setting out to their assigned lakes to search for starry stonewort and other priority invaders. Since 2017, Starry Trek volunteers have found over 40 new occurrences of AIS in Minnesota, including four new populations of starry stonewort.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is taking further action following the capture of 34 silver carp in Pool 8 of the Mississippi River near La Crosse, Wis. during a recent Modified Unified Method operation.
Next steps include increased commercial netting operations, tracking tagged carp, and perhaps another Modified Unified Method operation in the Mississippi River.
The USGS-developed Modified Unified Method combines netting and herding techniques to drive and concentrate invasive carp from a large area of water into a small zone for removal. Thirty-one silver carp were captured during the five-day operation earlier this month and three more were captured during follow-up work.
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Researchers at the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center have developed an online dashboard (AIS Explorer) that predicts the introduction risk of aquatic invasive species and identifies the optimal placement of watercraft inspection locations for waterbodies across Minnesota.
ST. PAUL — Based on new research, the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center is asking anglers to wipe fishing lines, reels, bait buckets, and livewells in addition to draining all water from boats and equipment when leaving a spiny water flea-invaded lake in order to “Stop Spiny.”
Spiny water fleas, though tiny (roughly the size of a grain of rice) can cause big problems for Minnesota lakes. These invasive zooplankton eat the microscopic food young, native fish need to survive and grow. Previous MAISRC research conducted by Dr. Gretchen Hansen has shown that walleye in lakes invaded by spiny water fleas are smaller and less abundant than walleye in uninvaded lakes. Stopping the spread of spiny water fleas is a crucial step in protecting our lakes; however, until recently, there was little information available on what recreational equipment was likely to collect spiny water fleas on it during use.
Based on new research, the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center is asking anglers to wipe fishing lines, reels, bait buckets, and livewells in addition to draining all water from boats and equipment when leaving a spiny waterflea-invaded lake in order to ‘Stop Spiny.’
Spiny waterfleas, though tiny (roughly the size of a grain of rice) can cause big problems for Minnesota lakes. These invasive zooplankton eat the microscopic food young, native fish need to survive and grow. Previous MAISRC research conducted by Gretchen Hansen has shown that walleye in lakes invaded by spiny waterfleas are smaller and less abundant than walleye in uninvaded lakes. Stopping the spread of spiny waterfleas is a crucial step in protecting our lakes; however, until recently, there was little information available on what recreational equipment was likely to collect spiny waterfleas on it during use.