Fixed wing aircraft have been supplying aerial images of land holdings for decades. A smaller and closer to the ground option has become available in the past couple of years. With advances in the parallel technology innovations that allow a stable platform for a high-resolution camera and radio/computer controlled quad (or multi-prop) drones to carry that camera, a vantage point from over a natural area is or will be available to all property managers.
Geum Video Images (www.GeumVI.com), a division of Geum Services Inc., support land management activities by supplying unique high-resolution vantage-points, which allows for property evaluation, invasive species presence documentation or spread, seasonal water changes or weather event documentation, and visualization of hard to reach (wetland) areas.
Examples of drone video images are presented.
Geum Services Inc.
Changes in land-use can directly and indirectly alter an ecosystems services by impacting insect abundance and diversity. Ants are an often overlooked insect group despite being among the most diverse and successful organisms in terrestrial ecosystems. Their abundance, diversity, and biomass make them important consumers and ecosystems engineers. They can modify, maintain, or create habitats for other organisms and alter the availability of resources through changes in soil conditions. To improve our understanding of how ant communities impact ecosystem services, we sampled ant communities across 20 restoration sites in southwestern Michigan. With these sites we can being to address how land-use history, management history, soil quality, and plant diversity impact ant communities and how these changes impact biocontrol within grasslands. Given increasing changes in land-use and management of grasslands for both conservation and biomass production, improving our understanding of the role of ants in temperate grasslands is critical.
Bill D Wills
Dept. of Entomology, Michigan State University
The St. Clair-Detroit River System (SCDRS) is a Great Lakes connecting channel that was degraded by pollution, channelization, industrialization, and residential development which reduced the system’s quality and removed much of the natural rocky substrate that native fish rely on for spawning habitat. Ultimately, these rivers were designated as areas of concern (AOCs) with multiple beneficial use impairments (BUIs). To remove these BUIs, several artificial spawning reefs were constructed and monitored by a collaborative multi-agency partnership. Currently, six reefs are monitored for fish spawning, and three sites are being evaluated for possible future reef construction. Results show that lake sturgeon have spawned on all reefs except Belle isle and viable eggs of lake whitefish, walleye, troutperch, white bass/perch, and native suckers have also been collected. Continued assessment of fish spawning habitat and fish populations will reveal how constructed reefs mature over time and how populations respond to the restored habitat.
USGS Great Lakes Science Center
Permanent forest monitoring plots were established in 2015 in the Skinner Woods, a part of a 10 hectare wooded area owned by Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. A full inventory of overstory trees (≥20cm DBH) was made, and trees were measured relative to each of 24 plot center locations. ArcGIS was used to map the trees, and then to create various sub-samples based on plot size (i.e. 5m, 10m and 15m radius circular plots). Stand tables were generated to quantitatively describe the forest for the full inventory and for the various sub-samples. Results illustrate the effect of sample size and plot distribution on quantitative characterization of forests, and can be used as a way to determine adequate sample size in a similar forested area.
Ball State University
Poster File: plot_size.pdf
Explore Michigan is an app designed to encourage outdoor recreation and nature conservation.
Aspiring Games Foundation
The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Ives Road Fen Preserve, discovered in 1979 contains 100 acres of healthy prairie fen. In the 1980’s, farming efforts to drain the water had allowed invasive species (glossy buckthorn) to thrive, leaving only 5 acres of fen. As the drainage system was deconstructed in the 1990’s, a dedicated group of volunteers coalesced. Using pruning tools and herbicide applicators invented by the team, volunteers and TNC staff set out to eradicate the buckthorn threatening the fen. Many saw the task of eliminating buckthorn as one that would take generations to accomplish. Undaunted, the team drew in volunteers from corporations, activist groups and the community. Regular Saturday work days, progress feedback, recognition and social events have helped build momentum. The fen is now free from buckthorn and the team has been clearing other invasive species from the now more than 700 acre preserve. Volunteer perseverance has paid off!
Michigan Nature Conservancy
Poster File: complete_fen_stewardship_conference_2016-36x48-trifold-v8.pdf
The 2007 National Lake Assessment identified the biggest problem with the nation’s lakes is poor lakeshore habitat. Michigan’s 11,000 inland lakes face many threats to shoreline/shallow water areas, including native vegetation removal leading to unstable shorelines and habitat loss. In an effort to help residents understand the need for natural shorelines, the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership (MNSP) formed in 2008 with the mission of promoting natural shorelines.
Oakland County’s 1,400 lakes possess a unique combination of economic, aesthetic, and ecological value. Since 2012, Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) coordinated diverse community partners to deliver educational workshops led by trained “Shoreline Educators” focused on the importance of stable shorelines to protect against erosion from wave energy, ice push and runoff while providing suitable fish and wildlife habitat. Post-program reflective surveys showed an increase in knowledge related to the importance of natural shorelines, rules and regulations, and ability to access shoreline information.
Michigan State University Extension (MSUE)
The Mid-Michigan Stewardship Initiative (MMSI) has operated as a volunteer-based invasive species management and public outreach organization since 2009, primarily in northern Ingham, southern Clinton, and southwestern Shiawassee Counties. By working with 104 different private, commercial and municipal landowners on our Phragmites, Japanese knotweed, swallow-wort, woody invasive species, and garlic mustard control projects, we have brought together many entities to achieve a regional effort to control these invasives. Our goal now is to work with the MSU Vets to Ag program to survey and tackle these wetland-edge invasive species along the Red Cedar River, Looking Glass River, Vermillion Creek, and Sycamore Creek, while also partnering to reduce invasive species spread caused by right-of-way mowing. We are working together with the regional conservation districts in Ingham, Clinton, Eaton, and Ionia Counties to bring together our strengths to form a Super-CISMA that coordinates our projects and partners in the Mid-Michigan region.
Mid-Michigan Stewardship Initiative
The density and diversity of macroinvertebrate communities are commonly used metrics for assessing the health of stream ecosystems. The indicators depend on water quality, of course, but also on the abundance and diversity of in-stream habitats. Stream gradient is a major determinant of hydraulic diversity and therefore also of habitat diversity. Volunteer monitoring programs often lack the resources and know-how to employ sophisticated methods for determining stream gradients, leaving them without the means for selecting sampling sites that are representative with respect to the range of gradients exhibited by the stream under study. This poster demonstrates two simple open-source software tools that effectively solve this problem using Google Maps data. Applications to wadeable streams in the White River watershed confirm the method's validity.
White River Watershed Partnership and Muskegon Community College
The Great Lakes Clean Communities Network (GLCCN), funded by the Great Lakes Protection Fund, is an online network designed to connect environmental professionals and organizations across the Great Lakes Basin to spur innovation and new ideas that will help address challenges facing the Great Lakes. The Network provides a common platform for sharing ideas, successes, and resources, as well as connecting individuals through groups and an interactive Great Lakes map. In addition, over 100 tools and resources are inventoried on the GLCCN that address various environmental issues such as invasive species, nonpoint source pollution and climate change. The GLCCN also offers an “Ecological Scorecard,” which helps measure and track a community’s ecological health using 12 water and land indicators. Through collaboration and dynamic networking, watershed groups, sustainability managers, environmental organizations, local governments, lake associations, universities and others are able to build new and stronger partnerships, translate innovative ideas into powerful outcomes, and ultimately find better solutions for the Great Lakes.
Michigan State University Institute of Water Research
Edmonton’s first rebuilt native ecosystem within a storm water management facility (SWMF) mimics local table-lands with natural soil profiles to maximize ecosystem function and services. Wetland, Rough-Fescue Prairie and Aspen mixedwood forest aspects were emulated based on reference studies and pre-disturbance soil assessments for each habitat type to create stepping stones connecting the Larch Park SWMF with neighboring ravines. Over 77 graminoid, forb, shrub and tree species were incorporated into plant community development to create a self-sustaining system. We are investigating how plant reproductive strategies, plant diversity, productivity (above and belowground competition) can influence the rebuilding success. Our research focusses on the resilience of rhizomatous plant communities to alien species invasion. We also hypothesize that soil chemistry under rhizomatous plants will become more similar to native ecosystems than areas with plants that reproduce with flowers alone. This research is based on five years of monitoring a novel ecosystem.
Michael Rawson Clark
Clark Ecoscience and Sustainability
Poster File: conference_poster_m.clark_s.bachmann.pdf
Road salting is a common practice that can have negative consequences on the surrounding environment and aquatic systems. Wetlands act as filters for some pollutants, but little is known about how they influence the movement of salt and also how salt movement might influence dissolved organic carbon (DOC) export. To test these ideas, a mesocosm approach will be used. Soil cores will be flushed with water with varying concentrations of salt. The effluent from these columns will then be measured for DOC content and salt retention over time. This research might elucidate important relationships between DOC export and salt retention and also highlight the importance of finding alternatives to typical road salting and also for saving and restoring wetland areas as important ecosystems for mitigation of detrimental anthropogenic inputs.
Eastern Michigan University
Invasive plants greatly threaten the integrity of ecosystems, yet their future response to ongoing climate change is uncertain. Invasive species’ broad environmental tolerances suggest warming may favor their success, especially if warming increases herbivore pressure and herbivores prefer native over invasive plant species. We constructed passive open top chambers to simulate an increase in temperature (+1-3ºC) in herbaceous plant communities in Michigan, USA. Warmed and ambient plots were manipulated to exclude or allow herbivores and the percent of leaf eaten was recorded. Utilizing the non-parametric Mann-Whitney U-Test, initial results indicate that insect herbivores significantly preferred native to exotic plant species, regardless of warming (p<0.01), but that warming did not affect levels of herbivory on either native or invasive plants (p=0.73). Uncovering long-term trends in plant-herbivore interactions under novel abiotic pressures will allow us to better plan and manage the future of invasive species control throughout a changing climate.
Michigan State University Department of Forestry
Poster File: welshofer_poster.pdf
Relative carbon sequestration of forests is of increasing interest in the face of climate change. Older forests with larger, heavier trees are thought to store more carbon than younger forests. The aboveground carbon storage of two oak-hickory forests of different ages (based on 1940 aerial photographs) was compared to test this assumption. Diameter at breast height (dbh) was measured for trees greater than 10 cm dbh along several transects in both forests, and was used to calculate mass of carbon stored in each tree based on species-specific allometric equations. While the average carbon stored per tree in the older forest was about 42% greater than that of the younger forest, the average carbon stored per square meter was about 36% greater for the younger forest than the older one. These results have implications for the justification and management, especially of urban forests patches, with respect to their ecosystem service of carbon sequestration.
School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan
Arthropods produced in non-crop habitats provide essential pollination and pest control services to agriculture, but modern industrial agricultural practices have minimized and fragmented the available non-crop habitat in the Midwest. As conservation lands comprise much of the last remaining non-crop habitat, understanding the relationship of conservation lands and beneficial arthropods to neighboring farms is critical to land-use decisions. In an effort to provide the foundation for effective cross-boundary communication, I will assemble and present in appropriate formats the state of knowledge of the contribution of wild pollinators and natural enemies and their needs for conservationists and farmers. The research shows that native ecosystems are unique in their capacity to support the full range of needs for arthropods throughout their annual cycles. Collective support for protection of arthropod habitat is required for the continued provision of pollination and pest control services.
Paul C. Charland
MS Candidate, Entomology Dept. Michigan State University
The Gravel Hill Prairies of the Wabash River Valley in the vicinity of Lafayette, Indiana are an endangered habitat in the state of Indiana (currently only three locations are known) and provide optimal growing conditions for a number of state endangered plants. Previous studies conducted in the 1980’s attempted to locate additional gravel hill prairies, with little success. These unique ecosystems have been found to occur almost exclusively on soils classified as Rodman Gravelly Loams and complexes thereof (i.e. Strawn-Rodman complex) which occur along the Wabash River’s outwash terrace. This volunteer research effort aims to determine potential areas of undiscovered gravel hill prairie remnants to develop a strategy to scout areas identified with the highest probability of occurrence for acquisition and conservation of said ecosystems. To date, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) such as ArcGIS and geospatial datasets such as the USDA’s Gridded Soil Survey Geographic (gSSURGO) for the state of Indiana have not been used to attempt and locate additional gravel hill prairies. This volunteer research effort relied on spatial analysis with GIS and numerous databases (like the USDA’s gSSURGO product) to develop maps and plans of potential areas to scout.
Poster File: 20160113_gravell-hill-prairie_poster_v1_final_pdf_ryans.pdf
Sand prairie was once an important and prevalent ecosystem on Michigan’s landscape but has declined in quality and quantity as a result of fire suppression, agriculture, and residential development. In the sand prairie of the Manistee National Forest, Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge) aggressively established a monoculture severely lower plant diversity. We established a restoration in 2013 to evaluate effects of individual and paired applications of fire and herbicide for increasing native plant diversity. Five treatment methods were examined: fire only, herbicide only, fire followed by herbicide, herbicide followed by fire, and control. A total of five years is planned for data collection. Results from 2015 will be used to determine which treatment, thus far, is showing the greatest success in controlling C. pensylvanica.
Grand Valley State University
Wetlands are responsible for emitting 20-39% of total global methane (CH4), an important greenhouse gas that traps 24 times more heat per molecule than does CO2. Variation in wetland plant species composition may affect methane emissions by influencing the composition and activity of microorganisms producing CH4 in wetlands and by acting as conduits, via their aerenchyma, for emission from sediments to the atmosphere. This research addresses the following questions: What is the relative importance of plants as pathways for evasion of methane to the atmosphere? How do two common invasive wetland plants differ in their impacts on the flux of methane from wetlands to the atmosphere? Closed system chambers were utilized to take samples of CH4 and gas chromatography was used, with a flame ionizing detector (FID), to compare concentrations to a known standard. Preliminary results show that Typha x glauca has greater methane emissions than Phragmites australis.
Eastern Michigan Univeristy: Biology Department
The release of methane from ecosystems, especially wetlands, can have important effects with regard to climate change and natural systems. Production of methane in wetlands is due to the activity of soil methanogens, but the relationship between soil environment and methanogen productivity is not well understood. We investigated the effect of soil nutrient levels on methane production by placing soil from phragmites australis or typha spp. dominated stands in jars with various nitrate levels and measuring methane output. If nitrogen facilitates the growth of denitrifiers that compete with methanogens, then we expected to find that jars with increased nitrate levels would have lower levels of methane production. Because of the prevalence of phragmites australis and typha spp. in wetlands, possible effects on methane production will be useful for understanding the extent of the problem posed by these invasives and the urgency with which the problem must be managed.
Eastern Michigan University
Road salt run-off causes episodic increases in salinity in streams that can be detrimental to aquatic biota. Stream biofilms play an important role in nutrient and carbon dynamics, and their activity affects the export of nutrients and carbon to downstream waterways. We conducted mesocosm experiments to investigate the effects of increased salt levels on stream biofilm activity. We exposed biofilms from four different streams to four levels of salt and measured biofilm activity as the decrease in dissolved organic carbon (= food source) over a three week period. We found that high salt concentrations depressed biofilm activity and that streams with lower ambient salt concentrations were depressed more than streams with higher ambient salt concentrations. Our results indicate that salt has both short and long term impacts on stream biofilm activity and may affect carbon and nutrient export from streams.
Eastern Michigan University, Biology Department
In order to investigate the viability of Microcystis vegetative seed stocks and its relationship to harmful algal bloom (HAB) development in Western Lake Erie, sediment samples were collected from different points within the western basin across a two year time period. Sample collection occurred each year in both the fall, just after the initial settling, and in the spring, during recruitment. QPCR techniques identified and quantified both toxic and non-toxic seed concentrations in samples. Spatial and temporal comparisons were accomplished using interpolation tools in ArcMap. Results indicate that not only do vegetative seed stocks vary both spatially and temporally, but that there are clear “hotspots” in seed stock concentrations. In the event that seed stock composition and viability has a strong impact on the temporal and spatial appearance of blooms, further research will determine methods to prevent the recruitment of Microcystis from the seed stocks and consequent HABs development.
University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE)
Poster File: spatial_poster_v4.pdf
Land use intensification in many parts of the North Central region has reduced the availability and diversity of the floral resources required by crop pollinators to enhance longevity and reproduction, and to fuel pollination activities. By incorporating floral resource enhancements into the agricultural landscape, land-owners can increase the yield of high value specialty crops, while buffering the effects of land-use intensification on both native bee and honeybee populations (Blaauw & Isaacs 2014). This project explores the relative attractiveness of insectary plants that thrive on coarse-textured soils, with the goal of identifying plants that show the greatest potential for increasing pollination services and native bee abundance and diversity in agricultural landscapes. Here, we report on findings from the 2015 field season to assess pollinator abundance and attractiveness to floral resources.
Michigan State University
Poster File: native_plants_poster_logan_rowe_pdf.pdf
Restoration efforts that emulate natural disturbances, and their legacies, are believed to be more effective than those that do not. In many cases, however, we are lacking in our understanding of the impacts of natural disturbances on ecosystem structure and function. For this study, spiders were sampled in twelve study sites following natural wildfires in northern Lower Michigan, ranging in age from 2-41 years. We also collected environmental and meteorological data. Our results show that site age, canopy cover, jack pine density, and understory plant community composition (below 0.5 m) are important drivers of Gnaphosidae abundance. Additionally, we found five species are significant indicators of mature sites, suggesting there are shifts in Gnaphosidae abundance associated with jack pine forest succession following wildfire. These data provide us with a greater understanding of the role of natural disturbance in shaping these systems, which will provide additional tools and strategies for restoration.
Sarah J Rose
Forest Ecosystem Restoration and Ecology Laboratory, The Ohio State University School of Environment and Natural Resources, Columbus, Ohio
Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) is a perennial C4 grass that has been studied as a bioenergy crop. It is capable of producing high yields while supporting other ecosystem services, such as the biological control of pests. To investigate the role of switchgrass cultivar and cropping system on insect communities and biocontrol services, a network of plots of switchgrass, alone and in combination with other grasses and forbs, was established across Southern Michigan. In 2014 and 2015 the insect community of each plot was monitored using sweep net samples. Sentinel prey were used to measure the biological control service at corresponding times. Levels of biological control increased over the season, and upland cultivars and diverse plantings tended to increase predation rates. Natural enemy communities also varied by cultivar, but did not impact biological control levels. Overall, decisions about cropping systems when planting switchgrass can change insect communities and the services they provide.
Michigan State University
We are increasingly aware of the severe consequences of habitat loss for many animals and plants, and yet we must also continue to provide nourishment for a large global population. These two realities often place conservationists and growers in conflict with each other. We can integrate the interests of each by understanding and promoting the use of restored native plant habitats to support beneficial insect populations that will provide pest control and pollination services to farmers. Native wildflowers may provide multiple benefits to natural enemies of agricultural pests, such as nectar and pollen supply, alternative hosts, and undisturbed nesting and overwintering sites. This study is surveying the attractiveness to beneficial insects of 54 native and 2 non-native perennial plants for potential use in habitat restoration for agricultural pest control and pollination.
Michigan State University
Poster File: native_wildflowers_poster.pdf
Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) poses a serious ecological threat to naïve forest understory and wetland plant communities. In recent years, its dispersal rate into northern states near to the Great Lakes has increased rapidly. It has been observed that M. vimineum disperses via seed across a landscape, once introduced, via drainage ditches and surface runoff. However, little empirical data or models exists at the landscape-/property-scale to model this dispersal. This geospatial model, developed with ArcGIS and the ArcHydro tool package aims to predict the hydrologic dispersal of M. vimineum seed to create scouting maps to help guide land stewards in the efficient removal of source-patch progeny down gradient of the source patch. This poster is meant to outline the research proposal of this project and the initial investigation of the model concept. This project will become Ryan Schroeder’s Honors Thesis, a requirement for graduating with Honors and the Dean’s Scholars Certificate from Purdue University.
Poster File: 20160111_stiltgrassmodel_proposal_poster_v3-final_ryans_0.pdf
Studies show that the back-swimming bugs Notonecta undulata and irrorata commonly co-occur in fishless ponds. To understand their food selectivity and possibility of resource partitioning or resource overlap between these two predatory aquatic insects, small-scale laboratory experiments were performed using a mixture of common pond cladoceran species. These laboratory experiments suggest that Notonecta undulate and irrorata are size-selective in terms of choosing prey and serve as co-existing competitors for resources in their respective ecological environments. Our results show that both notonectid species have preference for larger-sized prey, Daphnia pulex, over smaller-sized prey. The preference for larger-sized prey was not significantly different when comparing the two species. This suggests the possibility of resource overlap rather than partitioning when zooplankton acts as the only available food source. While our findings present the possibility of strong resource competition among these two notonectid species, other factors like habitat complexity, abiotic factors, source-sink dynamics and the presence of alternative prey may explain patterns of co-occurrence in natural ponds.
Wayne State University
Poster File: sobohposter.pdf
Recent studies show that road salt inputs are affecting aquatic ecosystems. With the addition of salt to freshwater lakes, density differences increase between surface and bottom waters and more energy is needed to cause mixing in the spring and the fall. The aim of this study was to determine if local lakes show evidence of salt accumulation and if this is reducing seasonal turnover. We measured oxygen and temperature in the spring and summer of 2015 to determine the degree of turnover, and measured nutrients and chlorophyll in the epilimnion, metalimnion and hypolimnion. We found that more strongly stratified lakes had greater nutrient concentrations in the bottom waters. Our results indicate that even lakes without high salt concentrations showed signs of reduced turnover. These findings suggest that small deep lakes may be particularly susceptible to further reductions in mixing if salt inputs increase.
Eastern Michigan University Biology Department
Tributary streams are primarily fed and sustained by external water sources and thus are extremely susceptible to anthropogenic changes. Because these streams are continually altered, organisms within these streams may exhibit increased genetic variation. Populations with high levels of genetic diversity are more resilient and resilient to anthropogenic disturbances and alterations. When populations become too small or homogenize, it is possible to fix deleterious alleles and populations may go extinct. While many studies show that genetic variation exists in populations that are separated by physical barriers, little is known about sympatric populations. Species of caddisflies within the family Hydropsychidae are indicators of environmental quality and have high mobility which allows a potential increase in interbreeding. Our goal is to understand the genetic variation between Hydropsychidae populations within isolated tributary streams and to further investigate baseline macroinvertebrate populations as an intermediate step in a long-term restoration project.
Grand Valley State University