The University Record, April 2, 2001

Michigan Sea Grant awards $766,032 for six Great Lakes research projects

By Joyce Daniels
Michigan Sea Grant

Michigan Sea Grant recently awarded grants to support six new Great Lakes research projects during 2001–03. The projects will address coastal wetland dynamics, aquatic nuisance species policy, Great Lakes episodic events and environmental monitoring of Lake St. Clair.

Federal funds totaling $766,032 are provided by the National Sea Grant College Program, with matching funds totaling $457,198.

Michigan Sea Grant, a cooperative program of the U-M and Michigan State University, is one of 30 university-based programs in a national network that promotes greater knowledge and stewardship of the Great Lakes and ocean resources.

The new research projects coincide with several of the five priority issues identified in Michigan Sea Grant’s five-year strategic plan: Great Lakes coastal wetlands, sustainable coastal development, Great Lakes trophic dynamics, aquatic nuisance species and Great Lakes education.

Following is a list and brief description of the newly funded research projects and principal investigators. For complete descriptions of current research projects, visit the Michigan Sea Grant Web site, www.miseagrant.org.

  • Effects of Great Lakes marsh fragmentation on fish assemblages. One of the greatest impacts of development on coastal wetlands is fragmentation, which results in loss of habitat and isolation of core marsh areas. U-M researchers Paul Webb, professor of biology and of natural resources, and James Diana, professor of natural resources, will determine the effects of fragmentation on marsh fish communities in Les Cheneaux, a system of narrow channels and islands in the eastern portion of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

  • Sedimentation and emergent plant decay in Great Lakes coastal wetlands. This project will explore the effects of excessive sedimentation in Great Lakes coastal wetlands. Researchers Robert Neely of Eastern Michigan University and Robert Sinsabaugh of the University of Toledo will study the effects of sedimentation on wetland microbial activity, which assists in decomposition.

  • An environmental monitoring system for Lake St. Clair. The goal of this project is to develop a near real-time Environmental Monitoring Network to provide timely predictions of local water quality conditions on Lake St. Clair that pose potential threats to human health. With a high level of local governmental support from around the Lake St. Clair basin, project researchers led by U-M’s Guy A. Meadows, director of academic programs, Co-op Limnology and Ecosystem Research, also will create a Web site to provide current lake information and forecasts of lake water quality conditions at public beaches.

  • The economics of policy options for controlling the introduction and spread of aquatic nuisance species in the Great Lakes. Project researchers Richard D. Horan and Frank Lupi of Michigan State University will identify and assess various economic methods that may be used to prevent and control aquatic nuisance species. Potential options include economic incentives, regulations, market-based systems and others. Researchers will evaluate the cost effectiveness and social ramifications of various policy options.

  • Ecosystem mosaics: modeling pattern and process using remotely sensed imagery. This project will draw from and complement two ongoing research efforts: the Keweenaw Interdisciplinary Transport Experiment in Superior and Episodic Events-Great Lakes Experiment project in southern Lake Michigan. Researchers Judith Wells Budd of Michigan Technological University and Changsheng Chen of the University of Georgia will use remote sensing technology to monitor the frequency of storm-induced episodic resuspension events and how particles are transported within them, and estimate surface chlorophyll and sediment concentrations.

  • Estimating nonmarket values for Great Lakes coastal wetlands. Ecological wetland functions and other beneficial qualities are often overlooked by current land-use practices and mitigation strategies, resulting in the loss of natural wetlands. Researchers Michael D. Kaplowitz, Frank Lupi and John P. Hoehn of Michigan State University will develop a random survey of Michigan residents to identify the wetland characteristics that people value most in an effort to calculate their economic value.