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Minnesota Sea Grant Selects New Research Projects

May 16, 2007

Photo montage of Sea Grant projects.

Minnesota Sea Grant recently chose seven research projects involving Lake Superior and the Great Lakes for funding. The projects were chosen with input from Sea Grant's advisory committee, partnering organizations, scientists, and the public. The award money, which is provided by the National Sea Grant College Program and matched by the University of Minnesota, collectively totals $606,900.

“The projects address pressing issues and will help us learn vital information about Lake Superior's basic functions,” said Stephen Bortone, director of Minnesota Sea Grant. “The findings will be useful regionally as well as locally."”

University of Minnesota scientists are funded for 2007 2009 to:

Put Lake Superior into Digital Circulation

Researchers and educators will help students to explore how winds, seasonal cycles, pollution spills, and other events affect digital renditions of Lake Superior and other large bodies of water by developing interactive software and curriculum that taps the power of a circulation model used in advanced research.

Personnel: Jay Austin, Jessica Crouch, Mike Dinniman, University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) and Old Dominion University

Identify the Role of Bacteria in Accelerated Harbor Corrosion

Scientists will compare biofilm (bacteria and microorganisms on underwater surfaces) from rapidly corroding metal in the Duluth Superior Harbor to biofilm from normally corroding metal. Even if bacteria are not directly pitting the harbor's steel, this study should provide clues about habitat conditions that could be accelerating the corrosion.

Personnel: Randall Hicks, UMD

Produce a Synthetic Pheromone for Sea Lamprey Control

Previous Sea Grant research led to the discovery of a pheromone that attracts the invasive sea lamprey. Now researchers plan to synthesize the species-specific attractant, petromyzonamine disulfate, in quantities that would allow resource managers to lure lamprey into traps with it.

Personnel: Thomas Hoye and Peter Sorensen, University of Minnesota (UM) Twin Cities

Investigate the Daily Migration of Fish and Their Prey

Lake Superior's predator and prey fish, and zooplankton move up and down the water column in a 24-hour cycle that is not well understood. Researchers will study this daily migration over several seasons to help explain how energy flows through the food web and to aid our ability to manage economically important fish species.

Personnel: Thomas Hrabik and Jason Stockwell, UMD and UM

Forecast Shifts in Water Quality as Land Use Patterns Change

Using computerized mapping programs, researchers will determine how detailed mapping information needs to be to predict water quality conditions in North Shore streams. They will use this information to model how changes in land type and use in the Lake Superior Basin could affect water quality. The results will help guide development plans.

Personnel: Lucinda Johnson, Rich Axler, Dan Breneman, Tom Hollenhorst, UMD

Rapidly Identify Bacteria Sources that Lead to Beach Advisories

Previous Sea Grant research traced beach bacteria to its sources. Now scientists will use new genetic techniques to rapidly identify whether fecal bacteria collected at Lake Superior beaches comes from birds or humans. They will also evaluate how time and activities influence bacteria abundance. Their findings will affect water contact advisories and help pinpoint sources of fecal contamination.

Personnel: Michael Sadowsky and Randall Hicks, UM and UMD

Balance Lake Superior’s Carbon Budget

It's likely that a gross underestimate of primary production complicates our understanding of carbon cycling in Lake Superior. Researchers will work to balance Lake Superior's carbon budget by improving estimates of lake-wide primary production and generating estimates of the grazing pressure on the lake's aquatic plant life. The study also addresses aspects of climate change.

Personnel: Robert Sterner, UM

For more detailed descriptions of the projects, visit Minnesota Sea Grant online at www.seagrant.umn.edu/projects/research.



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