Water test: a long history and hopeful future of human impact on Great Lakes ecology

The Lake Michigan and Lake Huron waters governed by an 1836 treaty are at the heart of negotiations between Michigan, the federal government and Native American tribes to determine how much and what kinds of fish can be harvested. Much has changed since the treaty was signed in 1836, notably because of invasive mussels. But human activity changed the lakes long before then. 

Water test: quagga mussels hijack key Great Lakes nutrient

The impact that quagga mussels have on the Great Lakes food web gives deep meaning to the saying, ‘food for thought.’ These prodigious filter-feeders are implicated in the decline of many Great Lakes fish species, well beyond those with commercial and recreational value.

Rising water makes Lake Michigan wetlands vulnerable to invaders

European frogbit, an invasive species, has been documented in Wisconsin, where it could threaten native plants, fish and invertebrates. The small, green, heart-shaped lily pad, forms dense mats along the surface of the water, blocking out sunlight that submergent plants need to survive.

Ontario jumping worm invasion threatens to leap borders

For the first time, Asian jumping worms were found in Ontario in March. The discovery of the invasive worms follows sightings in all Great Lakes states except for Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York. Removal of invasive species once they are established is extremely difficult, making prevention essential.

May: Good fish, fun fish, bad fish, sunfish

May is a good time to look for sunfish nests. The sunfish family includes some of Michigan’s most popular sport fish: largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegills, pumpkinseeds, crappies, rock bass and others. They are also among the world’s worst invasive fish species.

Emerald ash borer turns forest into wetlands

The invasive emerald ash borer has the potential to destroy over 3 million acres of black ash wetlands across the region, according to a recent study published in the journal Ecological Applications. 

The pandemic that closed the U.S./Canadian border to people may have opened it to the invasive sea lamprey

Great Lakes invasive species cling to shipments and navigate canals to migrate, but one aquatic invader – sea lamprey – benefitted from border closures instead. During 2020, 93 Great Lakes tributaries and 11 standing bodies of water were scheduled for chemical treatments for lamprey, but only 26 tributaries and six standing bodies of water were completed.

Invasive species now called spongy moth

The bothersome gypsy moth will now be known as the spongy moth. The Entomological Society of America made the change because the word “gypsy” is considered a derogatory slur against the Romani people. The word was dropped from its list of common names last July and the new name was just announced.

Hope spreads for infected trees

Researchers in Ohio are getting ready to expand one of seven treatments for a widespread disease that kills beech trees. The invasive beech leaf disease causes dark striping on leaves and makes them thick, leathery and disfigured before killing the tree.