Michigan Sea Grant launches $1.5M in new research to protect Great Lakes

February 15, 2022
Written By:
Elizabeth Striano

The Great Lakes support more than 3,500 species of plants and animals, including more than 170 species of fish, and a population of 34 million people in the United States and Canada who rely on these waters for recreation, employment, drinking water supply, and more.

Michigan Sea Grant recently launched four new research projects and three graduate research fellowships worth more than $1.5 million to protect and restore the critical environmental resources of the Great Lakes. Projects range from investigating the effects of invasive species to ensuring healthy populations of walleye to building a system of collaborative water resource management.

These projects bring together innovative teams from Michigan that will provide science-based information useful to decision-makers and are leveraged by a wide array of partners, including state and federal agencies, nonprofits, educators and other research institutions.

“Michigan Sea Grant is funding four research projects that address topics that were identified by stakeholders as current areas of interest and need in the Great Lakes,” said Michigan Sea Grant Research Program Manager Michael Fraker. “We also are funding three graduate fellows who will be working closely with agency sponsors on research projects relevant to current ecological, habitat and management issues.”

Michigan Sea Grant has committed almost $1 million to fund the four new research projects, including $225,000 from the Michigan Department of Environment’s Michigan Great Lakes Protection Fund, plus $150,000 to fund three graduate fellowships. In addition, university research partners have added more than $500,000 in additional matching funds.

“These awards represent one of our largest contributions to date for supporting critical research aimed at helping to manage our Great Lakes resources,” said Tom Johengen, Michigan Sea Grant director.

Michigan Sea Grant is a cooperative program of the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that funds research, education and outreach projects designed to foster science-based decisions about the use and conservation of Great Lakes resources.

The four research projects are:

  • “Helping Michigan communities meet their water use needs through collaborative water resource management,” Adam Zwickle, Michigan State University (joint project with EGLE’s Office of the Great Lakes)
  • “Measuring the role of invasive mussel larvae in lower levels of Lake Huron’s food web,” Gordon Paterson, Michigan Technological University
  • “Understanding where walleye spawn in Saginaw Bay to ensure better management and habitat protection,” Chris Vandergoot, Michigan State University
  • “Mapping genetic variation in Microcystis to improve Great Lakes harmful algal bloom models,” Vincent Denef, University of Michigan

The three graduate research fellowships are:

  • “Using audio playback to attract desired migratory bird species to restored coastal wetlands,” Dustin Brewer, Central Michigan University
  • “Understanding the effects of invasive mussels on freshwater bacterial communities in the Great Lakes,” Nikesh Dahal, University of Michigan
  • “Variation among walleye populations may affect how they respond to climate change,” Scott Jackson, University of Michigan

Every two years, under a competitive process, Michigan Sea Grant funds a suite of research projects and graduate fellowships that address issues affecting Great Lakes ecosystems and Michigan’s coastal communities. Funding for the new projects will run from 2022 to 2024.