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Satellites and Carp

Asian CarpAccording to Environment Canada, the Asian Carp fish is invading habitats and disrupting the food web in many ecosystems across the country.  Native to Europe/ Asia, the Asian Carp fish grow and avoid Canadian predators easily, and like so many invasive species are a real problem.

One solution may be in a recent invention.  Scientists at Michigan State University have pioneered a new technique that makes managing the conservation of freshwater lakes, streams and wetlands more integrated and effective.

satelliteThe new technique is called ‘landscape limnology’.   The University explains that landscape limnology is a process in which Geographical Information Systems (GIS) data from satellites and aerial photos on geology/land use is combined with data collected in the field (such as nutrient levels in water) to create models for conservation strategies.

The technique differs from traditional limnology in that it considers freshwater resources as an integrated part of a complicated system of terrestrial and aquatic landscapes, as opposed to considering each body of water in isolation.  Viewing the water this way helps to determine the effects on ecosystem processes.

Miners Castle MichiganThe research was published in the June 1 edition of the BioScience journal.  The new technique will help state agencies like the Department of Natural Resources and Environment manage Michigan’s enormous freshwater resources which include over 10,000 freshwater lakes larger than 5 acres, 30,000 miles of streams and more than 10,000 square miles of wetlands.

Landscape limnology will also help to reveal the bigger picture behind the complex issues of climate and land-use change by “making it easier to see the relationships between all the variables”.

Lake MoraineLandscape limnology techniques integrate data and help to stretch funding for conservation initiatives.  Thus, it seems like a good anecdote to help federal and provincial governments and agencies in Canada coordinate risk assessment, research, awareness, co-operation and co-ordination for problems such as the Carp fish.  Landscape limnology will also help shed light on solutions for habitats affected by exotic invasive species, such as the Asian Carp fish.

According to MSU associate professor Patricia Sorrano, “The state of Michigan had to present our approach to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials and they gave us a very favorable review…Now we’re starting to work with agencies outside Michigan.”  This means that landscape limnology may soon be coming to an ecosystem near you!

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