Friday, February 15, 2013

Marsh restoration brings long-missing birds, plants home again

The least bittern is making a comeback
following the removal of an invasive grass.
Photo: Mike Dee Photography
The restoration of a southeast Michigan marsh has already returned rare plants and birds to a Lake St. Clair park.

On tap: Yet more work to divert stormwater and reduce beach closings at the Lake St. Clair Metropark.

Among the birds returning after a nearly decade-long hiatus is the common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus). A dark, duck-like bird with a flamboyant splash of red on its beak, the moorhen is threatened in Michigan.

“This park was always a good stronghold nesting area for moorhens, but over the last eight to 10 years, they declined so horribly that I didn’t even see adults, let alone a nest with babies,” said Julie Champion, eastern district interpretive manager for the Huron-Clinton Metroparks, which includes Lake St. Clair Metropark.

“This past year we had a pair of moorhens and they were calling,” Champion said. “We’re pretty sure that they were a nesting pair because we saw an immature.”

The secretive marsh birds called least bitterns (Ixobrychus exilis), which are threatened, and the songbirds called marsh wrens (Cistothorus palustris), which are species of special concern, are increasing. And other species, such as sora (Porzana carolina) and Virginia rails (Rallus limicola), are also coming back.

Great Lakes Echo -
14 Feb 2013
L Mertz 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Millions of research dollars go to Ohio scientists studying algae

Photo credit: Eamon Queeney | Dispatch
The fertilizers, manure and sewage that rains wash into Lake Erie each summer help grow a “bloom” of toxic algae that pose a dire threat to wildlife, fishing and tourism.

But where there are problems, there also are opportunities. For scientists, Lake Erie’s problems are opening doors for research and millions of dollars in government grants to help support it.

One example is Sridhar Viamajala and Sasidhar Varanasi, two University of Toledo biochemists who are looking for ways to turn algae into fuel. They want to take the sewage and manure-tainted water that toxic algae feast upon, divert it from fields and streams and use it to help grow algae that can be refined into biodiesel fuel.

“It motivates us,” Viamajala said of Lake Erie’s problems. “This is our community, and we feel motivated by the issues that are happening here.”

The U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation are funding the project with two grants that total $4 million.

The Columbus Dispatch -
05 Feb 2013
S Hunt