UWM researchers attract Sea Grant funding

Nine researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee have received a total of $743,000 from the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute as part of the institute’s $2.8 million omnibus grant to support Great Lakes research.

The researchers, including two from engineering, two from biological sciences and five from freshwater sciences, are working on projects ranging from examining an invasive species as prey for larger fish to managing low-oxygen conditions in Green Bay.

Two men examine research equipment on a boat on Lake Michigan.
Harvey Bootsma (right), associate professor of freshwater sciences, is leading one of several studies recently funded by the UW Sea Grant Institute.

Most projects are investigating ecological issues that exist in Lake Michigan, but two focus specifically on Green Bay and one on the entire Great Lakes system.

“The world’s largest freshwater system surrounds Wisconsin to the north and east. The lakes fuel our economy and enhance our quality of life,” said Jennifer Hauxwell, Sea Grant’s director of research.

The projects include:

  • Val Klump, dean of UWM’s School of Freshwater Sciences, will investigate macro-invertebrates – such as larval insects, worms and a species called diporeia – that live in the deepest parts of Green Bay. This work will provide a better understanding of how to manage the bay’s ecology.
  • Green Bay suffers from low oxygen conditions that threaten fish. This project will refine a set of bay management tools and engage all regional groups involved in land and water use. Klump and Jerry Kaster from freshwater sciences join forces with Hector Bravo from the UWM College of Engineering.
  • John Janssen, a professor of freshwater sciences, is evaluating evolving predator-prey interactions between round gobies and cold-water predators, such as Lake Michigan-stocked salmon and trout. This will help fisheries managers better assess the quantity and placement of stocked fish in the lake.
  • Harvey Bootsma, freshwater associate professor, and Qian Liao, engineering associate professor, will develop a whole-lake phosphorous model for Lake Michigan that ensures there is enough phosphorous in the lake to support phytoplankton, but not an abundance that would lead to nuisance algae.
  • A project led by Sandra McLellan, professor of freshwater sciences, will shed light on the extent to which Wisconsin’s beaches are colonized with reservoirs of persistent E. coli strains.
  • Biologists John Berges and Erica Young are tackling the poorly understood cycle of silica dynamics in the Great Lakes. Silica plays a critical role in carbon cycling, wetlands functioning and ecosystem structure.

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