Research

2013

Christian Hayes, Cedarville University - "Effects of Reservoir Drawdown on Riffle Macroinvertebrate Communities"

In 2007 Keystone Pond, a reservoir behind the Boardman dam, Boardman River, Grand Traverse County, Michigan, USA was drawn down in preparation for dam removal. The objective of this study was to quantify the effects of drawdown on benthic macroinvertebrate riffle communities by comparing a downstream site in a newly formed channel to an upstream control. Since 2008 a total of 2338 macroinvertebrates have been sampled and identified to the lowest practical taxonomic level. Data were analyzed using Chi-Square goodness of fit tests, Simpson’s Index of diversity, and Sørensens' Quotient of Similarity. We found that macroinvertebrate communities in the new channel have recovered to a more natural condition and show increasing similarity to the upstream control site.

Mentor: Dr. David Mahan, Au Sable Institute, Great Lakes Campus

Download: Poster | Presentation | Paper

David Petry, Bethel University - "Response of Boardman River water temperature and insect communities and to dam removal"

Dam removal is becoming a common technique to restore streams to a more natural state. Few studies have looked at the effects of removing hydroelectric dams on macroinvertebrate communities or on stream temperature. The Boardman River, Kalkaska and Grand Traverse Counties, Michigan, USA, has four dams, three are scheduled for removal. The objective of this study was to examine the benthic insect communities and stream temperature regime (1) as a baseline prior to the removal of Brown Bridge Dam, (2) following a drawdown of the reservoir (Brown Bridge Pond), and (3) following the deconstruction of Brown Bridge Dam. Water temperature has been recorded hourly since May 2011 using data loggers. We determined that the dam increased downstream water temperature (~3°C) during summer months and slightly decreased temperature during winter months. Although not immediate, downstream water temperature following the dam removal has started to mirror upstream temperatures. We sampled macroinvertebrates during the early summers of 2011, 2012 and 2013. Following the reservoir drawdown, metrics for macroinvertebrate communities (%EPT, EPT/C, sensitive:tolerant taxa ratio) increased downstream of the dam and became more similar to upstream sites. In 2013, following the dam removal, increased sediment in downstream reaches resulted in decreased habitat quality and thus insect metrics. This study provides meaningful information for short-term effects of the dam removal. Continued monitoring will enhance understanding of long-term effects. 

Mentor: Dr. David Mahan, Au Sable Institute, Great Lakes Campus

Download: Paper

Kendra Antonides, Calvin College - "What is the relationship between sculpin abundance and water quality in streams in northwestern Michigan?"

The U.S. Forest Service designated mottled sculpins as an indicator species – one whose presence suggests high stream quality. However, due to the lack of documentation on the range of sculpins, my study investigated the distribution of sculpin in Kalkaska, Antrim and Crawford County, MI. I hypothesized that sculpin abundance was negatively correlated with stream temperature. Sculpins are increasingly threatened due to human encroachment and physical or chemical stream alterations. Therefore, we considered the study of sculpins as central and pertinent to assessing the health of local ecosystems. However, I found no relationship between sculpin abundance and abiotic factors at the conclusion of my study. This suggests the need for further investigation into the status and relevance of sculpin as indicator species.

Mentor: Dr. Rob Keys, Cornerstone University; Dr. Fred Van Dyke, Au Sable Institute, Great Lakes Campus

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2012

Candace DeLong, Anderson University -- "Wetland vegetation recovery and effectiveness of Phragmites australis herbicide treatment on the shores of Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan"

Phragmites australis, an invasive reed capable of forming monospecific stands and reducing biodiversity, has been treated with herbicides along Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan for three years, 2009-2011 (Chambers et al. 1999, The Watershed Center, Grand Traverse Bay 2011). To determine the effectiveness of herbicide treatment and the floristic value of recovering vegetation, herbicide treated sites were sampled and compared to control shoreline vegetation unaffected by Phragmites or herbicide. Herbicide effectiveness was determined by comparison of Phragmites stem counts between herbicide treated areas and nearby controls. Similarity between herbicide and control sites was determined using Sørenson’s Similarity Index and the Floristic Quality Assessment was used to give a value to each species (Herman et al. 2001). Herbicide treated and control sites were determined to have similar species composition, but significant differences existed between the qualities determined by floristic values of herbicide and control sites.

Mentor: Dr. Ken Sytsma, University of Wisconsin-Madison; David Mahan, Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies

Download: Presentation | Paper

David Petry, Bethel University -- "Effects of Keystone Pond drawdown on riffle macroinvertebrate communities"

In 2007, Keystone Pond, the reservoir behind the Boardman Dam on the Boardman River in Grand Traverse County, Michigan was drawn down due to safety concerns about the integrity of the dam. The objective of this study was to determine whether the newly formed channel (Lone Pine) has returned to a natural state as compared to an upstream control site (Shumsky Road) using macroinvertebrate indicators. Since the drawdown five years ago, macroinvertebrates have been annually collected and identified to the lowest practical taxonomic level. The data were analyzed using Simpson’s Index of Diversity and Sørensen’s Quotient of Similarity. We determined that while the newly formed riffle channel had recovered to a more natural state, the macroinvertebrate communities are still changing and not yet comparable to the upstream control site.

Mentor: Dr. David Mahan, Au Sable Institute, Great Lakes Campus

Download: Presentation | Paper

Opeoluwa Oyewole, Oral Roberts University -- "A comparison of total phosphorus levels in lakes in Kalkaska County, Michigan and relation to trophic state index"
(Winner of the Undergraduate Paper of the Year, Environmental Sciences and Planning Division, Oklahoma Academy of Sciences)

Phosphorus has been determined to be the limiting nutrient in many lakes in Michigan. The amount of phosphorus in a lake can be affected by several factors, including the morphometry of the lake, more specifically, the lake’s depth. The amount of phosphorus in mid-summer in 10 lakes of distinctly different morphometry in Kalkaska County, Michigan was measured, in conjunction with several other physical and chemical measurements. Carlson’s Trophic State Index was used to classify each lake. Statistical analysis revealed the correlation between mean total phosphorus and these factors was very low. However, within these results, it was observed that the correlation between the mean total phosphorus and Secchi depth was the strongest (R2 = 0.059), while that of total depth (R2 = 0.289) was weak and the number of houses (R2 = 0.028) had the weakest correlation with mean total phosphorus.

Mentor: Dr. David Mahan, Au Sable Institute, Great Lakes Campus; Dr. Scott Carr, Anderson University

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2011

Collin Whitsett, Southern Nazarene University -- "A Comparison of Pitcher's Thistle (Cirsium pitcheri) in Michigan"

Pitcher’s thistle, Cirsium pitcheri, is a threatened species endemic to Great Lakes Dune ecosystems that has suffered greatly from shoreline development and recreational use (Harrison 1988, USFWS 2002).  Previous genetic studies on the species have suggested that there is little gene flow between populations and high inbreeding within populations.  I sampled four populations representing a total shoreline distance of approximately 1070 km in attempts to 1) further understand of the genetic health of the species; 2) to see if any historical factors that have influenced Pitcher’s thistle movement and dispersal can be inferred; and 3) to see if a wide sampling range reveals markedly more genetic variation for the species than a limited one.  Four microsatellite loci were examined, and a loose grouping structure emerged between the northern and southern sample sites.

Mentors: Dr. Tim Evans, Grand Valley State University, and Dr. Ken Sytsma, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Alex deSosa, Wheaton College -- "Plant Inventory of Wetlands with Potential for Phragmites australis Invasion on the Shores of Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan"

The invasive presence of Phragmites australis, the common reed, has detrimental effects on native biodiversity and wetland ecosystem processes, in addition to negative social and economic effects (Getsinger et al. 1999). As private landowners along the Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan, follow the suggestions of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other organizations to remove Phragmites from their property, a comprehensive list of local, native wetland species with which to replace the invasive grass is a practical need. The inventory provided by this study includes 139 species, in addition to an evaluation of the six inventory sites using the Floristic Quality Assessment (Herman et al. 2001).

Mentor: Dr. Ken Sytsma, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Download: Presentation | Paper

Michelle LaForge, Wheaton College -- "A Benchmark Macroinvertebrate Analysis of the Boardman River Prior to Dam Removal"

In the late summer of 2012, the Brown Bridge Dam on the Boardman River in Traverse City, Michigan will be removed. The objective of this study is to provide a benchmark of current macroinvertebrate populations to aid in the restoration processes that will occur after dam removal. Three riffle sites were sampled using a stratified sampling technique. The macroinvertebrates collected were identified to genus level when practical and were subjected to Shannon’s diversity index and Morisita’s similarity index. In total, 2,662 macroinvertebrates were collected and identified. Analysis showed the site below the dam having the highest degree of species richness and diversity. When the sites were compared, the two upstream sites showed a high level of similarity, while the downstream site showed a high degree of differentiation.

Mentor: Dr. David Mahan, Au Sable Institute, Great Lakes Campus; Dan Ippolito, Anderson University

Download: Presentation | Paper

William Miller, Messiah College -- "Effects of Forest Road Fragmentation on Genetic Differentiation in Northern Red-backed Salamanders"

Roads can fragment animal populations, which can lead to decreased gene flow between populations.  This causes increased genetic differentiation and decreased genetic diversity between and among populations.  These affects are well documented in studies focusing upon the effects of urbanization on salamander populations, however, little is known about the effects of rural roads on fragmented populations of salamanders.  We used microsatellites to examine the effects forest road fragmentation has on genetic diversity and differentiation in populations of northern red-backed salamanders.  We sampled populations on both sides of two single-lane forest roads.  Initial findings confirm successful PCR amplifications at the PcLX16 and PcI16loci.  Qualitative findings also show no observable heterozygosity.  Genetic analyzer did not produce any usable data.  Due to the lack of quantitative data, no conclusions can be made about the effects of forest road fragmentation on genetic differentiation.

Mentor: Dr. Tim Evans, Grand Valley State University

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Jacob Boone, Spring Arbor University -- "A Comparison of Stream Health Based on Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Assemblage Above and Below a Future Dam Removal Site on the Boardman River, Michigan"

Mentor: Dr. David Mahan, Au Sable Institute, Great Lakes Campus

Download: Presentation | Paper

2010

Lauren Westerman, Covenant College -- "The Relationship Between Bird Species Diversity and Habitat Addressed through Foliage Height Diversity and Percent Canopy Cover in Northern Michigan"

Birds were surveyed in seven plant communities in northern Michigan to assess bird diversity.  Species presence was recorded by use of 10-min point counts.  The habitat was assessed with a foliage height profile at twenty points within the plant community.  The habitat structure was divided into three levels corresponding to the ground cover layer, the shrub layer, and the canopy.  An increasing linear correlation was found to exist between bird species diversity and increase in foliage height diversity as well as between bird species diversity and greater percent canopy cover.  No correlation was between the year-round resident species and the foliage height diversity or the percent canopy cover.  A positive linear correlation existed between foliage height diversity, percent canopy cover, and migratory species.

Mentor: Dr. Kenneth Petersen, Bethel University

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Douglas Sponsler, Cedarville University -- "Trapping Yellowjackets (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) in Northern Michigan: An observational study of meat foraging, comparision of three carbohydrate baits, and assessment of 20 seafood products"

Yellowjackets are often involved in pestiferous interaction with humans.  In addition to stinging behavior, some yellowjackets can become serious ecological hazards.  Control can be achieved through toxic baiting and non-toxic trapping.  The three-part study in Kalkaska County, northern Michigan, examined: 1) foraging habits of meat scavenging species, 2) the relative effectiveness of acetic acid + isobutanol, heptyl butyrate, and apple juice as carbohydrate baits, and 3) the attractiveness of 20 seafood products as potential baits. The observational study and the seafood product assessment yielded no useful data, due to low yellowjacket populations.  The carbohydrate comparison suggested that Vespula flavopilosa favor apple juice, but the data was not significant when submitted to the Kruskal-Wallis test.

Mentor: Dr. Hal Reed, Oral Roberts University

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Thomas McElrath, Covenant College -- "Stream Quality Survey of the Upper Boardman River, Northern Michigan, Utilizing Benthic Macroinvertebrates"

This study aimed at determining stream quality, using an analysis of benthic macroinvertebrates, at nine different sites along the upper Boardman River system (Grand Traverse and Kalkaska Counties, Michigan). Sampling protocol and metric analysis followed GLEAS Procedure 51 established for evaluating Michigan streams. Results were compared to three previous sampling studies conducted at the same sites, especially a 2004 study. A minor, but noticeable, overall decline of stream quality was found for the upper watershed, most likely due to local causes. However, the stream is still high quality, with one “Excellent” site and eight “Approaching Excellent” sites. One site, in downtown Kalkaska, showed significant decline, most likely caused by human activities, and further testing and restoration is recommended at this site.

Mentor: Dr. David Mahan, Au Sable Institute

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Esther Migan Dassi, Oral Roberts University -- "Host-specific Sequences to Identify Fecal Pollution Sources in Manistee Lake, Kalkaska County, Michigan"

Lake water contamination with fecal material poses potential health hazards. Lakes are better managed by determining the presence and source of contamination.Escherichia coli–(Ecoli)–is recognized as the indicator of fecal contamination in freshwaters by the U.S. EPA, which sets the water quality standard for recreational waters to 235 CFU/ 100 mL. E. coli, a fecal coliform in the Enterobacteriaceae bacteria family, primarily resides in the gastrointestinal tracts of warm-blooded animals, including mammals and birds. In this study, I used Coliscan® Easygel® media to test for E. coli in Manistee Lake. E. colicounts varied from 0 to 60 CFU/ 100 mL at most sites, but the E. coli count from the site frequently populated by Canada geese varied from 0 to180 CFU/ 100 mL.
To determine the source of fecal contamination, I used a molecular approach involving Polymerase Chain Reaction—a molecular tool that amplifies a specific region of DNA using primers—to amplify host-specific16S ribosomal genes of the Bacteroides-Prevotella group. One set of host-specific primers targeted the 16S rDNA gene of bacterial Prevotella speciespecific to the Canada Goose (Branta canadensis), whereas, a second set of primers targeted the 16S rDNA gene in the genus Bacteroidesspecies host-specific to humans. The fecal contaminants of the lake could not be determined because of a lack of success in amplifying these genes from lake water.  Likewise, the attempts to isolate the 16S rDNA gene directly from Canada Goose feces was unsuccessful.  However, the attempt to obtain amplified fecal 16S rDNA from the human samples was successful.  In spite of the setbacks, utilizing molecular tools to address the problem of indentifying sources of fecal contamination remains promising and efforts in the future should be continued.

Mentor: Dr. John Korstad, Oral Roberts University

Nathan Sather, Bethel University -- "Riffle Community Recovery After Reestablishment of a Swift River Channel Following Reservoir Drawdown at the Boardman River, Traverse City, Michigan" 
(Winner of the Undergraduate Paper of the Year, Minnesota Academy of Sciences)

The purpose of this study was to characterize the macroinvertebrate community and observe differences between two undisturbed riffles (Shumsky Site, Boardman Acres Road Bridge), and a newly developed riffle at the head of the old reservoir (Lone Pine Site). Additionally, samples were compared with those taken in similar studies in 2008 and 2009 to determine the amount of recovery in the reestablished river channel at the Lone Pine Site. Macroinvertebrates were identified to lowest possible taxonomic level and distinguished by morphospecies.
Each of the three sites were found to be taxonomically similar in their macroinvertebrate community composition. A total of 864 individuals were identified. Shumsky (undisturbed site) had 31 observed morphospecies, the Boardman Acres Road Bridge site (undisturbed) had 32 morphospecies, and the Lone Pines (recovering site) had 36 morphospecies. A comparison of the recovering site with the undisturbed, natural sites using Sørensen’s Quotient of Similarity indicated that the recovering Lone Pine Site was similar in regards to community structure. Additionally, rank abundance curves, indicated similarity in relative species abundance, evenness, and richness. Results from this study suggest that three years after the Boardman Dam reservoir was drawn down, the recovering Lone Pines site has returned to a “natural state” in regards to invertebrate community structure.

Download: Presentation | Paper

Mentor: Dr. David Mahan and Dr. Garrett Crow, Au Sable Institute, Great Lakes Campus

2009

Nathan Sather, Bethel University -- "Recovery of the Riffle Community in the Boardman River as a Consequence of Reestablishment of a Swift River Channel Following Reservoir Drawdown at the Board River, Traverse City, Michigan"

The Boardman River is a groundwater fed stream that meanders through Michigan’s Grand Traverse and Kalkaska Counties. The Boardman and Sabin dams are two of four dams that impede the Boardman’s flow and due to safety concerns are in the process of removal. The Boardman Dam Reservoir was lowered 17 feet in 2007, resulting in the reestablishment of river channel upstream. Research has indicated that dams negatively affect stream ecosystems by increased sedimentation and alteration of natural habitat. The purpose of this study was to characterize the macroinvertebrate community and observe differences between an undisturbed riffle (Shumsky Site), a newly developed riffle at the head of the old reservoir (Lone Pine Site) and at a riffle below a dam (Sabin Dam Site). Additionally, samples were compared with those taken in a similar 2008 study to determine the amount of recovery  in the reestablished river channel at the Lone Pine Site. Macroinvertebrates were identified to lowest possible taxonomic level and distinguished by morphospecies. Each of the three sites were found to be taxonomically distinct in their macroinvertebrate community composition. Shumsky had 35 observed morphospecies, Lone Pines had 25 morphospecies, and Sabin Dam had 43 morphospecies. A comparison of the recovering site with the undisturbed, natural site using Sørensen’s Quotient of Similarity indicated that the Lone Pine Site has not fully recovered, but showed a considerable increase in similarity (40%) in contrast to the 2008 analysis (17.8%).  Additionally, an improvement in richness of indicator species was observed. 

Mentor: Dr. David Mahan, Au Sable Institute, Great Lakes Campus

Jacob Meier, Calvin College -- "Diversity of Macroinvertebrates in Differing Substratum Types at Three Sites in the Lower Boardman River, Michigan"

The diversity of the macroinvertebrate communities of different microhabitat types was characterized at three different sites along the Lower Boardman River, Michigan.  Three sites along the Boardman River including an undisturbed site, a naturally recovering site, and a site just below an impoundment were sampled.  Samples were taken from up to five habitat types, depending on availability, at each site; the habitat types included a riffle area, sand, macrophyte bed, bank margin, and organic area.   A biodiversity inventory of all macroinvertebrate taxa collected was compiled, which consisted of 377 individuals representing 108 different taxa.  As demonstrated by other studies, the undisturbed and dam sites showed the riffle microhabitats to be the most diverse, but this was not true within the recovering site. A chi2 test for independence also showed that microhabitats at the recovering site were not significantly independent, suggesting that macroinvertebrate communities in unstable streams such as the naturally recovering stream site in this study, may be made up of species that are less habitat specific than those in more stable streams.

Mentor: Dr. David Mahan, Au Sable Institute, Great Lakes Campus

Meghan Rorick, Hardin-Simmons University -- "An Assessment of a Small Mixed Northern Hardwood-Conifer Forest Restoration Project in Northern Lower Michigan"

At present, forest loss continues at an alarming rate all over the world.  Therefore, it is very important to not only protect the remaining forest, but also restore the forest ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed.  This study evaluated the condition of a small forest restoration project in northern Lower Michigan one year after implementation in 2008 by measuring the percent herbaceous cover, the species diversity, the percent of native and non-native/invasive species, the average percent decrease of non-native species per soil treatment, and the growth/survival of transplanted trees and shrubs.  A complete inventory of the entire site was also compiled as baseline for future studies. The study found an increase in percent herbaceous cover, total number of individual plants, and species diversity since 2008.  It also found a decrease in percent non-native species.  Plots that received “raked” and “tilled” soil treatments also showed a decrease in average percent of non-native species relative to the control.  A positive effect has been seen in just one year from establishment of the restoration project at this site. Future studies should be conducted to further monitor the process of restoration. 

Mentor: Dr. David Warners, Calvin College 

2008

Jane Louwsma, Calvin College – “Response of the Macroinvertebrate Community to the Reestablishment of the Channel of the Lower Boardman River, Michigan”

Mentor: Dr. David Mahan, Au Sable Institute, Great Lakes Campus

Tova Braun, Oral Roberts University -- "Field Testing of Possible Foraging Attractants for Social Wasps (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) in Northern Michigan"

Mentor: Dr. Hal Reed, Oral Roberts University

Miriam Adamiec, Oral Roberts University -- "Prevalence of Escherichia coli Before and After Storm Events in Big Twin, Oxbow, and Starvation Lakes in Northern Michigan"

Escherichia coli(E. coli), a fecal coliform bacteria, primarily resides in the gastrointestinal tracts of warm-blooded animals and birds. E. coli is recognized as the indicator of fecal contamination in freshwaters by the U. S. EPA, which sets the water quality standard for recreational waters to 235 E. coli per 100 mL humans. In the Great Lakes region, E. coli counts that peaked during summer months have been correlated to stormwater runoff from waterfowl, septic, and agricultural sources. The goal of this study was to detect the impact of rainfall on E. coli counts in Northern Michigan lakes.
In June and July 2008, Starvation, Oxbow, and Big Twin Lakes were tested for E. coli, general coliforms, and total coliform counts using Coliscan® Easygel® media. Each lake had two or three sites with three sample replicates collected near shore at each site. Ten sampling dates were completed over a period of six weeks, with six weekly baseline collections and four after-rainfall samplings collected within 24 hours of at least 0.8 centimeters (0.3 inches) precipitation.
ANOVA Multi-Way statistical results show that rainfall has significant impact on E. coli counts. However, individual statistical analysis for each of the lakes shows that in only Oxbow and Starvation after rainfall E. coli counts showed a significant difference from the baseline data. This may be as a result of human versus animal influence on the lakes, which can be further researched using PCR DNA Fingerprinting. Mann-Whitney-U statistical results show that rainfall has significant impact on E. coli counts. 

Mentor: Dr. John Korstad, Oral Roberts University

Download: Paper | Poster

Bryan Gray, Malone College -- "Statistical Analysis of Three Distinct but Adjacent Ecosystems in Regards to Herpetological Abudance and Diversity"

Mentor: Dr. Tom Lee, Abilene Christian College

Kira Langendoen, Redeemer University College -- "Habitat Use by Whip-poor-wills: Comparison of human-dominated and forest-dominated landscapes"

Mentor: Dr. Katie Weakland, Bethel College (IN)

Jeffrey Koning, Calvin College -- "The Effect of Various Concentrations of Centaurea maculosa exudate on the Germination and Growth Rate of Two Assay Species, Fesctuca arundinacea (Tall Fescue) and Trifolium repens (White Clover)"

Mentor: Dr. Randy VanDragt, Calvin College