Thursday, November 21, 2013

Invasive species, climate changes can combine to wreck havoc on Great Lakes loon population

Four times in the last seven years, migrating waterfowl in the Great Lakes basin, especially common loons, have experienced massive die offs during their fall migrations. These anomalies, if unchecked, can have dangerous repercussions for the survival of Michigan loons into the next decade.

But, for better and for worse, based upon an array of environmental and climatological conditions, one can set their clock by when the die offs take place. The next step, biologists say, is finding preventative measures to deal with those conditions to preserve a species already threatened in the state. The problem is, at this point, solutions are hard to come by. Unfortunately, the loons, a symbol of northern lakes and wild places with their eerily lonely two-note call, serve as the end result sentinel of a growing environmental danger in the Great Lakes.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), there are about 30,000 common loons in the United States. During the breeding season, from early spring to late fall, about half of them reside in the Great Lakes’ states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

In 2012, thousands of dead birds, mainly common loons washed up dead on Lake Michigan shorelines – from the Upper Peninsula, down to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. A large percentage of the dead loons had just entered their first year of breeding maturity. While the mortality rate in 2012 was the worst on recent record, it followed similar incidents that took place in 2006, 2007 and 2010.

The Macomb Daily
15 Nov 2013
D Gardner

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Great Lakes Restoration Grant to Protect Lake Erie from Algal Blooms

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced that Ohio will receive a $500,000 federal grant from the Fiscal Year 2013 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). This grant will support both GLRI and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and will be used to implement field studies and lab experiments that will assess the quality of Lake Erie water.

“It is excellent news that Ohio is the first state to receive these federal funds so we can better protect water quality in Western Lake Erie,” Brown said. “Addressing toxic algal blooms is critical to protecting Ohio’s drinking water and the thousands of fishing, boating, and recreation jobs that depend on clean and safe waters. Still, with so much at stake, more can and should be done. That is why Congress must build on this momentum and fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for the safety and wellbeing of Ohio’s citizens.”

Specifically, the $500,000 GLRI grant will help protect Lake Erie by:
  • Tracking the movement of phosphorus and nitrogen, which is harmful to the quality of Lake Erie water;
  • Studying and analyzing Lake Erie nutrient sources that contribute to the formation Harmful Algal Blooms; and
  • Examining phosphorus loading to assess its effect on low oxygen levels, which is also harmful to the quality of Lake Erie water.
14 Nov 2013