A Closer Look
#101 October Newsletter

LMC Events - Activities - Presentations - Awards & Recognition - Grants & Contracts - AWRI In The News

Pictured is the invasive alga, starry stonewort (Nitellopsis obtusa)

Starry Stonewort Task Force

Historically, many invasive species were not adequately studied until they were already a major problem. More recently, invasive species management has begun to focus on preventing introductions and developing rapid responses to newly detected exotics. However, there is still a very long way to go before we sufficiently prevent the introduction and spread of exotic invasive species.

The invasive alga, starry stonewort (Nitellopsis obtusa), has rapidly spread into many inland lakes in Michigan over the past 30 years, and forms impressively dense stands in deeper waters where most other aquatic plants do not live because of insufficient light. The thick lawns of this plant may profoundly influence ecosystem processes such as nutrient dynamics, food webs, and critical spawning habitat for fish. However, starry stonewort has not made it onto the radar screen of invasive species managers like many of the other notorious aquatic invasive species (e.g., Eurasian milfoil, Asian carp), and efforts to scientifically study its impacts and develop best management practices are critically lacking.

In an effort to prevent this invasive species from getting ‘out of control’ before we adequately know how best to manage it, a Starry Stonewort Task Force has been assembled. The task force - spearheaded by Dr. Richard Pullman of Aquest Corporation and coordinated by the University of Michigan-Flint -includes academics from several universities, representatives from private industries related to aquatic plant management and environmental consulting, and state-level natural resource regulators. The goal of the task force is to raise awareness regarding this species and identify priorities for research and management. AWRI’s Dr. Ryan Thum participates on the Task Force, and will address issues associated with the genetics of starry stonewort invasion.

Lake Michigan Center Events

Oct 1
Two classes of 4th grade Roguewood Elementary students visited the Annis Educational Foundation classroom for hands-on activities.

Oct 6
The GVSU Johnson Center for Philanthropy held the final session of a four part series, “Nonprofit Skill Building Workshop”, in the Multipurpose room.

Oct 8
Michele Smith, Science instructor, provided lesson ideas to a group of Baker College student teachers and education faculty in the Annis Educational Foundation Classroom. This conference was organized to provide instruction on how to use local resources to create real-world experiences for their classrooms.

Oct 8
Seminar Series: Dr. Duane Hampton from Western Michigan University presented “Simulating CO2 injection into a deep saline aquifer in Michigan”

Oct 27
Deb Dila, graduate student working with Bopi Biddanda, passed her qualifying exam.

Oct 28
Walden Green Middle School 6th and 7th graders visited the Annis Educational Foundation Classroom for hands-on activities.

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AWRI Activities

The D.J. Angus has been dry-docked for the winter. The W.G. Jackson will remain in the water. Both boats are receiving winter maintenance.

Bopi Biddanda was a guest lecturer for the GEO 112 Earth History class at GVSU, on October 22. The title of his lecture was “Great Lakes Sinkholes: Analogs of Life in the Proterozoic?”

Rick Rediske and Bopi Biddanda attended the Graduate Research Fair on October 5, at the Kirkhof Center in Allendale.

Rick Rediske’s lab hosted the Geochemistry Class on October 8, for a water quality lab.

Rick Rediske was a guest lecturer for Janet Vail's Environmental Studies class on October 19. The topic was Sustainable Water and Stormwater Treatment.

Al Steinman attended the Groundwater Sustainability Workshop in Edmonton, Alberta, from October 4 through October 7.

Al Steinman attended a meeting on October 13, at Scott Erdman’s facility in Whitehall, to examine his algal biofuel production process.

Al Steinman joined President Haas and Provost Davis, to meet with the President, Provost, and Vice President of Research at Michigan State University, on October 18, in East Lansing, to discuss research initiatives.

Al Steinman was the keynote speaker at the annual conference of the Michigan Clean Water Corps, at the RAM Center in Higgins Lake, on October 19. He spoke about phosphorus in Michigan waters.

Ryan Thum was a guest lecturer for CMB 250 on October 19. He gave an overview of AWRI internships, opportunities, etc.

Janet Vail reports that guest speakers in her Environmental Studies 201 class, during the week of October 18, were Rick Rediske and President Haas. Her class presented posters at the GVSU Sustainability Week event.

Jon VanderMolen collaborated with the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly (MWRA) and the Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds (LGROW), to host training workshops in Grand Rapids and in Big Rapids, on October 22.

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AWRI Presentations

Bopi Biddanda and Scott Kendall made two poster presentations regarding recent progress in the exploration of submerged sinkholes at the Cooperative Institute for Limnology and Ecosystem Research, University of Michigan, on October 6.

Kendall, S., B. Biddanda, S. Ruberg, S. Nold, R. Green, W. Lusardi, T. Casserly, and S. Newman. Production and respiration of microbial mats in the groundwater of submerged sinkholes in Lake Huron.

Biddanda, B., G. Dick, A. Voorhies, S. Kendall, S. Nold., S. Ruberg. Metabolically versatile cyanobacterial mats in Great Lakes sinkholes: analogs of the Proterozoic.

Kate Coveney, a summer 2010 Scientech intern who worked with Bopi Biddanda, gave two poster presentations in October, based on her work at AWRI.

Coveney, K. and B. Biddanda. Poster. Effect of climate warming on plankton metabolism in Muskegon Lake. Bio Club Meet, GVSU. (October 14, 2010).

Coveney, K. and B. Biddanda. Poster. Sink or Source?: Effect of climate warming on plankton metabolism. West Michigan Regional Undergraduate Science Research Conference, Van Andel Institute. (October 30, 2010).

Jim McNair gave a presentation at the CLAS Faculty Research Colloquium held on October 15. The title of his presentation was “A review of empirical studies of particle transport in streams: is fluid mechanics important, and shouldn’t we be able to tell?”

Amanda Mercer, undergraduate student who worked in the Thum lab this summer, presented her project at the West Michigan Regional Undergraduate Science Research Conference at the Van Andel Institute on October 30, 2010.

Mercer, A. and R. Thum. Poster. Loopholes in the regulation of invasive species: genetic identification techniques identify the sale of prohibited invasive aquatic plants.

Carl Ruetz gave an invited presentation at the Biologists Conference, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment Fisheries Division in Traverse City, Michigan, on October 6. He gave an update on current research projects in his lab.

Al Steinman was an invited presenter at the Groundwater Sustainability Workshop in Edmonton, Alberta, on October 5. He spoke about the groundwater indicators he helped develop for Michigan. The workshop was sponsored by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment.

Kurt Thompson gave a GIS presentation to Dr. Edwin Joseph's class, Introduction to GIS (GPY 307), at AWRI on October 21.

Jon VanderMolen gave a presentation titled, “Offshore utility-scale wind power in coastal West Michigan”, to the Lake Michigan Forum on September 30.

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AWRI Awards

Janet Vail presented a workshop on Population Connection and a session about GLOBE, at the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education annual conference in Pellston, during the weekend of October 8-10. She received that organization’s top environmental education award at the conference.

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AWRI Grants and Contracts

Al Steinman received a grant of $20,000 from the Community Foundation for Muskegon County to conduct post-restoration sampling of Muskegon Lake macrophytes and socio-economic monitoring.

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AWRI In The News

“CMU takes lead in $10 million research grant; project part of Great Lake Restoration Initiative”
Central Michigan Life, October 1, 2010
Carl Ruetz is due to receive a sub-contract under this award.

“Rogue River getting extra love from national coldwater conservation group”
The Grand Rapids Press, October 3, 2010
This article is about the new job Nichol De Mol has, working on the Rogue River. Nichol’s previous job with AWRI is mentioned.

“Round up of Michigan Sea Grant Happenings – Rein in the Runoff”
Upwellings (Michigan Sea Grant) October 2010
AWRI assessed stormwater runoff issues in the Spring Lake watershed.

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Page last modified March 11, 2014