Brian Merkel is an associate professor in UW-Green Bay’s Human Biology & Biology programs. He joined Rachel Manek on Good Day Wisconsin to discuss why it’s important to educate oneself about the coronavirus and influenza and understand the science behind the viruses.
UW-Green Bay Scientist studies prehistoric sturgeon. Studying one of Wisconsin’s most revered fish species has been a love of University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Patrick Forsythe since childhood, but now he gets to study whether or not efforts to save the fish are working.
Sturgeon numbers in the Great Lakes have dwindled heavily over the years, due in part to dams blocking their spawning patterns. For the last several years, a fish elevator on the Menominee River has helped sturgeon find their way. We talk with two biologists about how it works and how they’re tracking their progress. Biology Prof. Patrick Forsythe is interviewed.
UW-Green Bay Associate Prof. Patrick Forsythe (Biology) and the Aquatic Ecology and Fisheries Laboratory received $300K from the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act and WE Energies Mitigation and Enhancement fund to research lake sturgeon on the Upper Menominee River. The main goal of this project is to provide data needed to help evaluate the benefits of passing adult lake sturgeon around the lower two dams and within the Park Mill to Grand Rapids section of the river. This proposed research represents the next critical step in a series of projects designed to evaluate use of an elevator as a means of providing upstream passage of lake sturgeon to facilitate recovery of the Menominee River lake sturgeon population. The project is slated to begin later this spring.
Fish Hatching Photos
Photos of the upper Menominee River from May 20, 2020. See map.
Photos submitted by UW-Green Bay Fisheries Technician Stefan Tucker.
An operation at a dam on the Menominee River that relocates sturgeon upriver has helped biologists in their efforts to improve sturgeon populations and has given researchers a new way to track whether those sturgeon are spawning.
About 400 sturgeon were relocated farther upstream between 2015 and 2019 thanks to an elevator installation at the Menominee Dam, located about two miles upriver from the mouth of Lake Michigan at Green Bay. Bypassing the dams means the sturgeon are able to access their historical spawning sites—an important achievement for the sturgeon whose numbers dropped to the hundreds in the past few centuries.
Lake sturgeon number about one percent of their historical abundance, said Patrick Forsythe, an associate professor of biology at UW-Green Bay who focuses on aquatic ecosystems and fish populations in the Great Lakes. Overharvesting and pollution have been particularly devastating to the populations, as well as dams that have blocked the sturgeon from getting to their spawning sites. Adult sturgeon exhibit homing behavior, which means that they return to spawn in the streams where they were born. See more via WPR.
UW-Green Bay Senior Research Specialist Erin Giese and Prof. Bob Howe co-authored “Prioritizing coastal wetlands for marsh bird conservation in the U.S. Great Lakes.”It was recently published in Biological Conservation, Volume 249, Sept. 2020, 108708. Alumna Stephanie Beilke ’15, one of their former graduate students is also a co-author. See the abstract.
Rats are an essential component of scientific research understanding diseases and discovering new treatments. After the study is complete, unfortunately, most rats are euthanized. But there’s a movement to see those rats—and other laboratory animals— adopted as pets instead. Far ahead of this movement, UW-Green Bay Prof. Rick Hein, began running his Adopt-A-Rat program for almost 20 years and was recently interviewed on Top of Mind with Julie Rose on BYU Radio (SirusXM 143). In this interview, Dr. Hein discusses why and how his freshmen and sophomore students use animals in course research projects, the importance of animals in research, and his Adopt-A-Rat program. Listen to the interview podcast.
Top of Mind with Julie Rose is a daily, live news talk and interview show heard nationally on BYU-Radio’s satellite channel (SiriusXM 143), online at byuradio.org/topofmind and via iTunes or TuneIn Radio apps from 4 to 8 p.m. ET.
They have interviewed a wide range of people: Actor and activist George Takei; FCC Chairman Ajit Pai; Race reparations expert William Darity at Duke University; Travel guru Rick Steves; former NYPD Chaplain Imam Khalid Latif; Peter Jakab, Chief Curator of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum; former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake; and Broadway superstar Leslie Odom, Jr., just to name a few. SiriusXM has a national subscriber base of over 26 million listeners. Podcast downloads of the show are available on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, and Google Play. In Northern Utah, BYURadio can be heard on 107.9 FM.
Most of us don’t spend much time thinking about what’s in the dirt beneath our feet. That’s not the case for University of Wisconsin-Green Bay students studying soil samples to discover previously unknown bacteria, which could lead to the development of new antibiotics.The students are part of the Tiny Earth project, a global network of educators who teach a research course aimed at discovering new antibiotics that started at UW-Madison in 2018. The course provides students with the opportunity for original thinking and scientific discovery and can inspire them to pursue STEM careers. About 10,000 students are enrolled in some version of the Tiny Earth course throughout 45 U.S. states and 15 countries.“The students get their own soil sample to test. They isolate bacteria, conduct gene sequencing and do a lot of other interesting things,” says UW-Green Bay biology professor Brian Merkel. “The students realize they are part of something that’s bigger than them and they’re contributing to an international effort.”The program’s global reach and goal of discovering new antibiotics caught the eye of Microsoft. The Seattle-based company provided UW-Green Bay’s Tiny Earth project with an AI for Earth grant that places Microsoft’s cloud and AI tools into the hands of students, says Michelle Schuler, manager of Microsoft TechSpark Wisconsin.
Barbara Hauxhurst Cofrin Prof. of Natural Sciences Mike Draney participated in the America Arachnological Society’s virtual Forum on Effects of Racism on Arachnology at the (virtual) Annual Meeting of the American Arachnological Society, and was invited to moderate one of the breakout groups on “Addressing feelings of social isolation among POC in academia.” Ideas and suggestions resulting from these breakout sessions will be forwarded to the AAS Advisory Board for consideration and implementation.