Started from the Bottom: Predicting Risk of Toxin Formation in Wetland Mud

They say that you only live once, but for wild rice plants in the Great Lakes Region, whether or not they live depends on what tiny microbes living deep within the mud are doing. Although small, these microbes can poison the rice plants and have some big impacts, especially for everyone that depends on the food these plants provide.

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Work smarter and harder: a fieldwork fable involving the investigation of lake greenhouse gas emissions

“Are you sure this is the ramp?” my colleague, Dr. Jake Beaulieu asked the head field researcher, Adam Balz, as we drove up to the site.

The three of us took in the view of the crumbling asphalt inclined plane that disappeared into the lake. According to the map, this was the boat launch. But the usage of the lake had changed from allowing motorized craft to “paddle craft only” several years ago, and now the disused ramp was covered in layers of sandy sediment.  

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What happened to the Great Barrier Reef in 2016?

In 2016, a severe coral reef bleaching event killed ~30% of the corals in the Great Barrier Reef. Abnormally warm global ocean temperatures are becoming more common and intense which will increase the frequency of bleaching events. Forward-looking projections indicate potential coral reef benefits associated with moving toward lower greenhouse gas emission futures. How do we get there?

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Spawn of the Dead

Migratory animals such as the Pacific salmon are critical to the transport of nutrients and energy across large distances and between different ecosystems. However, along with important nutrients also come contaminants and pollutants. To understand the impacts of salmon, Brandon Gerig and colleagues investigate contaminant levels of riparian fish populations in streams where salmon runs do and do not occur in the Great Lakes region.

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What can we learn from the things in lakes?

We all know the saying right… An Ecosystem in Motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an outside force (aka humans), but what happens after that force hits? How does the ecosystem in question react? Does it crumble and die or does it dust itself off and try again?

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River Streams Benefit from Fallen Trees

Rivers have suffered the most from human urbanization. Damming, river straightening and removal of large woody debris have disrupted many natural processes essential for healthy habitats of fish, insects and algae. Many land managers have returned fallen trees back into rivers in hopes to improve habitat quality. It wasn’t until this research by Thompson and colleagues that there was clear evidence that this management strategy was successful.

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Climate change altering wine-making: from landscape to conservation

Our changing climate (Marcott et al., 2013) is at the forefront of global politics and economic planning decisions. There is growing evidence that climate change will affect most fields of study and many professions from agriculture to zoning. One such field that is gaining attention is viticulture, or wine production. A study published in PNAS led by Dr. Hannah and colleagues (2013) looked at how changes in temperature and precipitation will affect global wine production. In addition, the researchers explored how the locations of wine-making regions may shift due to climate stress, and how this might affect conservation.

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Ocean acidification in the face of many environmental stressors

Greenhouse gas emissions are acidifying the ocean. The progressive decrease in ocean pH, or ocean acidification, is impacting ecosystems across the globe. Despite our understanding of the severity of ocean acidification’s impacts on individual species, the story is more complicated. We must also consider more broadly how ocean acidification affects ecosystems that are also exposed to a variety of other stressors such as changes in temperature and oxygen, coastal nutrient input, fishing, and ocean commercial transportation. It is critical that future adaptation and mitigation strategies consider how these co-occurring stressors interact with one another.

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