Modified poplars, Asian carp and a new invasive species: this week in environmental news

By Sally Zimmerman, MNA Intern

Every Friday, MNA shares recent environmental news stories from around the state and country. Here’s some of what happened this week in environmental and nature news:

Poplar trees. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Poplar trees. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Poplars modified for ethanol production still fight bugs (Great Lakes Echo): A recent University of Wisconsin study found that genetically modifying poplar trees to more easily produce ethanol had little to no effect on the tree’s susceptibility to insects. The trees were modified in two ways, making the production of ethanol easier. These findings may bring genetically modified poplar trees closer to commercial use for a biofuel made from the cellulose in plant cell walls.

Asian carp DNA detected in Lake Michigan sample (ABC News): Sturgeon Bay in Wisconsin has tested positive for the invasive Asian carp, which is the second water sample to test positive for the invasive species in recent years. The Asian carp was accidentally introduced into the Mississippi River and has made its way north. Scientists fear the Asian carp could out-compete native species in the Great Lakes and damage the $7 billion fishing industry. Scientists say it is unknown whether the sample came from a live fish or not, so the DNR and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will take more samples.

New invasive species battle brewing in northern Michigan (Up North Live): The Department of Natural Resources has turned their attention to a new aquatic invasive plant called the European frog-bit. This species has been detected in Saginaw Bay, Alpena and Munuscong Bay in Chippewa County. Frog-bit shades out submerged native plants, which reduces plant biodiversity, disrupts natural water flow and may adversely affect fish and wildlife habitat. Control measures are underway, including removing 1,500 pounds of the free-floating plant.

Crying wolf: Michigan’s first hunt heavily influenced by outside interests; follow the money (MLive): The Humane Society of the United States has donated more than $300,000 in an effort to end the Michigan wolf hunt. More than $600,000 was donated in total. Jill Fritz, the director of the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected campaign said the newest petition drive is all volunteers. Other opponents to the hunt include native tribes, the Doris Day Animal League and individual contributors from outside the state. Many of these people provided statements to Michigan lawmakers.

Tsunami debris ‘island’ isn’t Texas-sized, but it is headed toward the U.S. (Mother Nature Network): About 1.5 million tons of debris from the tsunami that struck Japan in 2011 is drifting across the Pacific Ocean toward the United States. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration cannot accurately predict when the debris will arrive on U.S. shores. Debris has been washing up along the shores of Oregon, Washington, Hawaii and Alaska. The docks that washed ashore in Washington and Oregon contained large amounts of marine life that had to be decontaminated to prevent invasive species from entering the U.S. coast.

Advertisements

Beach cleanup, bald eagle cams and killer frog disease: this week in environmental news

By Sally Zimmerman, MNA Intern

Every Friday, MNA shares recent environmental news stories from around the state and country. Here’s some of what happened this week in environmental and nature news:

A lighthouse on Thunder Bay in Alpena. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A lighthouse on Thunder Bay in Alpena. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Beach cleanup on Thunder Bay (Alpena News): Thunder Bay Junior High sixth-graders cleaned up trash at Mich-e-ke-wis Park in Alpena as part of the Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-a-Beach program on Wednesday, September 25. The students also participated in environmental research. On the same day, high school students cleaned Bay View Park, and also conducted research of their own, testing the water and taking pH samples.

Georgia launches first streaming bald eagle cam (Mother Nature Network): Bald eagles first appeared in Georgia in 2012, building a nest near Berry College. The college recently installed cameras in the tree that the bald eagles built their nest in before they returned to lay their eggs. Live footage of the birds started on September 18 and can be seen at www.berry.edu/eaglecam.

Missouri ponds provide clue to killer frog disease (Science Daily): A skin fungus known as amphibian chytrid, first found in Australia in 1993, has made its way to ponds in east-central Missouri. Postdoctoral researcher Kevin Smith assembled a team of students who observed 29 different ponds. They found that ponds that contained chytrid were consistently similar to one another. The disease was found in one third of the ponds observed. This disease damages a frog’s skin, making it difficult to breathe or absorb water. It usually ends up being fatal.

Officials want Michigan to pay for wildfires (Great Lakes Echo): Representative Bob Genetski introduced a bill that requires the state of Michigan to reimburse local governments for fighting fires on state-owned land. Genetski said the bill won’t require extra money from the state. The bill would make the existing forest funds accessible. Michigan Townships Association Executive Director Larry Merrill says that compensating local governments would not be too expensive.

Global warming could increase storm risk over eastern U.S. (Mother Nature Network): A new study conducted in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, states that the risk for severe weather conditions is likely to increase in the eastern U.S. as global warming continues to increase. As more greenhouse gases are put into the atmosphere, there is the potential for more moisture to be held. Scientists discovered that even a slight increase in global warming caused a considerable increase in the type of atmospheric environment that is linked to severe weather conditions.