September 16, 2010
Because the Emerald Ash Borer isn’t very photogenic, we’re taking a break from Invasive Species Week to bring you a reminder of another kind of invasion that’s about to descend on Michigan: the fabulous Grand Rapids ArtPrize! 2009 brought all kinds of incredible sights to the city, including the Nessie Project. See a bunch of them in our ArtPrize Video from 2009.
ArtPrize starts next Wednesday (September 22) and continues through October 10th. We will once again be On Location with Absolute Michigan, and we encourage you to attend and to share your photos from ArtPrize in the Absolute Michigan pool and also to the ArtPrize Promotion Group for anyone who wants to share their photos & video of ArtPrize installations and the accompanying hoopla with bloggers and online media outlets.
September 13, 2010
All week we’re going to be featuring invasive species – who they are, what they’re doing to our lakes & land and how folks are working to stop them. See the articles as we post them on Absolute MichiganMichigan in Pictures and !
I actually already blogged this photo to Pandora’s Locks: How Invasive Species got into the Great Lakes on Absolute Michigan. The book is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn how the way the shipping industry operates guarantees that invasive species will spread.
You will note that John has TWO invaders here, the zebra mussel and the Asian ladybird beetle. Check this out bigger in John’s slideshow!
July 14, 2009
About ten seconds after I caught this, my fiancee’s uncle beat it repeatedly against the side of the boat. He said that it was an “intruder from outer waters and it must be exterminated because it eats all the perch eggs in Lake Eerie.” I’m sorry Peta. I didn’t do it.
The round goby, Neogobius melanstomus, is a small, bottom – dwelling fish that was first found in the Great Lakes region in 1990. Originally from the Black and Caspian Sea areas of Eastern Europe, it is believed that this exotic species arrived in the ballast water of vessels coming into the Great Lakes. Since the first sighting in the St. Clair River, round gobies have spread to all of the Great Lakes and are working their way inland through the rivers and canal systems.
…Round gobies are found in all of the Great Lakes with the greatest numbers in Lake Erie, Lake St. Claire and southern Lake Michigan. Many of the areas with round goby populations are best described as infested. Once round gobies arrive they can become the dominant fish species. Round gobies prefer rocky, shallow areas, but have flourished in a variety of habitat types. Regardless of the habitat, round gobies are very aggressive fish that compete with native fishes for food and space. Anglers who fish in areas with round gobies often find that the gobies steal their bait and appear to be the only type of fish in the area.
Round gobies can eat zebra mussels in addition to fish eggs, plankton, fish, and benthic invertebrates. Because zebra mussels are filter feeders that accumulate contaminants in their body tissues, round gobies that eat zebra mussels may be consuming a high level of contaminants. When a predatory fish such as a walleye eats a round go by that has fed primarily on zebra mussels, they may be getting a much larger load of contaminants than they would from eating other types of prey fish. This could put dangerous concentrations of contaminants into sport-fish at a much faster rate.
According to the MLive, there are now an estimated 10 million pounds of gobies in Lake Michigan alone! More information at round goby on Wikipedia and from the round goby page on Protect Your Waters. How do we stop their spread? Always follow the procedure to Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!
April 1, 2013
March 26, 2013
I’d like to offer an apology of sorts for this photo. It goes like this: “I’m really, really sorry that I sometimes have to blog photos of the ugly things that threaten what’s beautiful in Michigan. I wish I didn’t have such a good reason to!”
Michigan has only the tiniest sliver of Lake Erie shoreline, so little that we sometimes forget that it is one of the lakes that define our Great Lakes State. Lake Erie served once at the canary in the coal mine for pollution of the Great Lakes, and it may once again be sounding a warning call. A recent front page of the New York Times featured scary news about algae blooms on Lake Erie:
For those who live and play on the shores of Lake Erie, the spring rains that will begin falling here soon are less a blessing than a portent. They could threaten the very future of the lake itself.
Lake Erie is sick. A thick and growing coat of toxic algae appears each summer, so vast that in 2011 it covered a sixth of its waters, contributing to an expanding dead zone on its bottom, reducing fish populations, fouling beaches and crippling a tourism industry that generates more than $10 billion in revenue annually.
…Dead algae sink to the lake bed, where bacteria that decompose the algae consume most of the oxygen. In central Lake Erie, a dead zone now covers up to a third of the entire lake bottom in bad years.
“The fact that it’s bigger and longer in duration is a bad thing,” said Peter Richards, a senior research scientist at the National Center for Water Quality Research at Heidelberg University in Ohio. “Fish that like to live in cold bottom waters have to move up in the thermocline, where it’s too warm for them. They get eaten, and that tends to decrease the growth rates of a lot of the fish.”
Read on for a whole lot more including how farming practices are intersecting with invasive zebra mussels and climate change to magnify the dangers.
More Lake Erie on Michigan in Pictures.
January 31, 2013
Judas test: Will carp betray their own? on the Great Lakes Echo says that University of Minnesota researchers are working to put a new tool in the arsenal of those seeking to thwart the voracious and invasive Asian carp.
The researchers are fitting common carp, or “Judas fish,” with transmitters to lead them to other, larger schools of common carp, the station reports.
“(Carp) seem to be actually exceptionally social, they really hang out together,” researcher Peter Sorensen told the station. “We have to confirm that, but it sure looks that way.”
Watch the report from CBS Minnesota to learn how researchers hope to use the same technique to locate Asian carp populations for extermination.
More fish on Michigan in Pictures.
March 15, 2012
Welcome to the latest in our ongoing Michigan Trees in Peril series (see below). Yesterday I came across an article on the Great Lakes Echo about an invasive pest that is making inroads in Ohio. The article notes that it’s in Michigan too, and answers my question of “What the heck is that bug?” from last fall.
The DNR page on the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid page from the Michigan DNR explains:
The hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae Annand) is a small aphid-like insect that feeds on several species of hemlock (Tsuga spp.) in Asia, its homeland, and in North America since 1924. This insect is easily recognized during most of the year by the presence of a dry, white woolly substance on the young twigs. The “wool” is most abundant and conspicuous during spring. An egg mass resembles the tip of a cotton swab, although somewhat smaller. It is particularly noticeable on the underside of the young twigs.
The eastern hemlock grows well in shade and is very long lived, with the oldest recorded specimen being at least 554 years old. The tree generally reaches heights of about 31 meters (100 feet), but exceptional trees have been recorded up to 53 metres (173 feet).
The diameter of the trunk at breast height is often 1.5 metres (5 feet), but again, outstanding trees have been recorded up to 1.75 meters (6 feet). The trunk is usually straight and monopodial, but very rarely is forked. The crown is broadly conic, while the brownish bark is scaly and deeply fissured, especially with age.
Allison took this at the Twelvemile Beach Campground in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. See it on black or in her Forest and Trees slideshow. You can also purchase through her photography website
A couple other trees in peril…
December 3, 2011
The headline of Gary Wilson’s editorial at the Great Lakes Echo caught my eye this morning: Great Lakes: A ship with no name in search of a captain. Gary begins:
In the past two weeks Chicago has been the center of a rare commodity in the Great Lakes region: Forward-looking thought. And I mean the future, not just until the next election or fiscal year.
First, architect and MacArthur Foundation “Genius Award” winner Jeanne Gang presented her vision for transforming the Chicago River from that of an “open sewer” and invasive species highway to becoming a model of a 21st century urban waterway.
Gang’s proposal is conceptual, not an engineering plan. It’s meant to generate interest by the public and discussion that has been lacking. And judging by the large crowd that came to hear her speak, that interest exists.
At the same time Chicago Public Radio was also looking to the future.
Its Front & Center series that focuses on the Great Lakes hosted a one hour program about whether the region can truly collaborate for the greater good of the eight Great Lake states. Or will it continue to play in a zero sum economic game by competing with each other while the region’s combined strengths go untapped?
The consensus of the expert commentators is that the region’s governors see no political gain by collaborating. They’re focused on winning the jobs takeaway game that makes for nice press releases and ribbon cutting ceremonies when they win, but does nothing to strengthen the region.
Excellent questions. Read on for his thoughts about where the leadership to protect the amazingly interconnected wonder that are Lakes Michigan, Huron, Superior, Erie and Ontario may (or may not) come from .
There’s no doubt that it will take all the states on the lakes and the governments of the United States and Canada and their citizenry to do it. I’m pretty confident that the character & vision of our leaders and all of us on the Great Lakes will be important to generations yet unborn.
Editor’s note: this isn’t the first time that Michigan in Pictures has featured multiple photos – more in the Sunday Study section. These also aren’t the first photos from outside of Michigan’s borders to appear on Michigan in Pictures – at least one is the Christmas Ship at the dock in Chicago.
December 1, 2011
Just a little Editor’s
note rant to say that I grew up with a simply gorgeous black walnut tree in my yard, and it really upsets me when I have to write about yet another species that I love under threat of destruction by our out-of-control ecology. Some days it feels like all we’ll have left is squirrels, asian carp, emerald ash borers and kudzu. Also, sorry this is so long … I just kept learning stuff.
The Great Lakes Echo has a feature on Thousand Cankers Disease that attacks black walnut trees. The disease is caused by the walnut twig beetle and a newly identified fungus, geosmithia morbida, that act together to destroy walnut trees and is especially deadly to eastern black walnut. Both beetle and fungus prefer warm weather, and the theory is that it could be spreading north because of temperature. It has already been found in Pennsylvania, and Michigan and other states have a quarantine. (we know how well that worked for ash trees though)
Wikipedia’s entry for Juglans nigra aka Eastern Black walnut says that black walnut is a deciduous, flowering tree in the hickory family that is native to eastern North America. It can reach heights over 100 feet, growing tall and straight in the forest or spreading with a large crown in the open. The history of black walnut at the Walnut Council says that:
The tree once grew abundantly in the eastern bottomland forests, where the soil was deep and rich. Trees 150 feet tall with 50-foot clear stems and 6-foot diameters were not uncommon. Black walnut was the number one prized fine hardwood in America at a time before the use of veneers. Early colonists exported the wood to England from Virginia as early as 1610. Solid walnut wood was used in every sort of homemade furniture imaginable, during the Colonial and Federal periods, but rarely was the fine grain appreciated. Most pieces were covered with a coat of paint. The rage for walnut as a fine furniture wood occurred in a period from 1830-1860, during the popularity of the Empire, Victorian, and Revival styles. Unfortunately by this time, black walnut wood was already becoming scarce.
During pioneer times in the Midwest states, black walnut was still very abundant, although the extremely large trees were already gone. The tree was often cut for rudimentary things as split rail fences. Millions of railroad ties were made from walnut, since it resisted rot when in contact with the soil…
Black walnut never faltered in its use as gunstock material. It is unsurpassed, since no other wood has less jar or recoil, it doesn’t warp, shrink or splinter, and it is light in proportion to its strength. The smooth, satiny surface makes it easy to handle. The U.S. Government used black walnut gunstocks for generations and it is still the favored wood for shotguns and rifles used by hunters and sportsmen.
In a 1993 Michigan forest inventory, it was estimated that there are about 8.5 million walnut trees in Michigan’s forests. Mike has a nice detail of walnuts on the tree, Julie has a cool shot of a cardinal in a walnut tree, and you can see a gorgeous photo of a walnut tree in France on Wikipedia that really shows the spread of the tree and is big enough to make a great background! There are also some photos and drawings in the USDA Plant Profile for black walnut. If you have a wheelbarrow full of walnuts, you might want to read about growing & harvesting walnuts or watch this video. And finally, if you’re looking to plant some walnut trees, click that link!
October 12, 2011
Invasive species, pollution, diversion – the threats facing the Great Lakes are legion.
This week (October 11-14) is Great Lakes Week, a partnership to improve the places around the Great Lakes basin basin where people live, work, learn and play. This week’s activities, meetings and conferences bring representatives of the U.S. and Canadian governments together in Detroit along with a broad coalition of public and private groups to highlight efforts to implement solutions for the lakes’ most pressing problems. It’s one of the most wide-ranging Great Lakes summits in history and you can watch it LIVE today starting at noon through Friday on Absolute Michigan or at greatlakesnow.org.