Snapping turtles, wildfire smoke and Michigan recycling rates: 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:

Snapping turtle. Photo from MNA archives

Snapping turtle. Photo from MNA archives

Snapping turtles finding refuge in urban areas while habitats are being polluted (Science Daily): Snapping turtles’ habitats are being destroyed by pollution and land development, which is causing them to move into urban areas. Many people are hesitant to encounter a snapping turtle. Bill Peterman, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Missouri, assures that the animal will only bite when provoked. Peterman also suggest that the way to get snapping turtles back to their habitat is for people to use fewer chemicals that eventually end up in waterways. Using fewer chemicals would also benefit the habitat as a whole as it would restore the snapping turtles to their rightful place, which would put the ecosystem back in balance.

New insights on wildfire smoke could improve climate change models (Michigan Tech News): Michigan Technological University researchers have discovered components of smoke that can impact climate change. Previously, components of smoke had been missing from climate change models. The researchers are unsure whether these components warm or cool the earth. However, they should be considered in more models of climate change to determine just what impact smoke components have on climate change.

Michigan’s recycling rate is lowest in Great Lakes region (Great Lakes Echo): Michigan’s recycling rate is 10 percent lower than the regional average. Governor Rick Snyder said in 2012 that increasing recycling is one of his top priorities. Kerrin O’Brien, executive director of the Michigan Recycling Coalition, believes part of the problem is that people in Michigan have limited access to recycling sites and find it inconvenient. She also said Michigan needs a significant culture shift to start participating in more recycling programs.

Otters aid seagrass recovery (Conservation Magazine): The harmful effects of fertilizer pollution on seagrass are offset by otters. Runoff from farms enters the water and damages seagrass, which is important to the marine ecosystem. Otters contribute to the recovery of seagrass by feeding on crabs. In turn, not as many crabs feed on sea slugs. The abundance of sea slugs graze on algae, which helps the seagrass grow.

Great Lakes Week 2013 (Great Lakes Now): Great Lakes Week will run from September 9-12. All organizations that govern the Great Lakes will meet in Milwaukee to discuss key topics including who will be able to draw water from the Great Lakes, threatening algae bloom and record low water levels. Also, the overall health of the lakes will be assessed and new plans for the Great Lakes will be set. Some sessions will be broadcast on public television and streamed online.

Wolf hunt, recycling rates and ‘metabarcoding’: this week in environmental news

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 grey wolf. Photo from MNA Archives

A grey wolf. Photo from MNA Archives

Animal rights advocates launch new petition to drive halt to wolf hunting (Detroit Free Press): Animal rights advocates launched a petition drive on Monday to repeal the law that would give control over setting wolf hunts to the Natural Resources Commission. Passed in May, the law bypassed a petition drive mounted by activists last year that would have put a halt to a hunt of grey wolves in the Upper Peninsula. If the petition drive is successful, voters will face two ballot issues on wolves in November.

Michigan’s recycling rate is lowest in Great Lakes region (WKAR):Michigan’s recycling rate is just 20 percent, 10 percent lower than the regional average. Governor Rick Snyder is hoping to change that. In 2012, he identified increasing recycling rates as a priority for his administration.

How ‘insect soup’ DNA could help conservation efforts (Mother Nature Network): Researchers are turning to a method known as “metabarcoding” for identifying endangered insect species across the globe. The process involves identifying species from fragments of DNA in a single bulk sample, such as an “insect soup” or various crushed bugs. Though it may seem strange, researchers believe metabarcoding could allow could enable scientists to identify endangered insects that would otherwise go unnoticed across various regions and continents.

Vigilant residents take on lake invaders with hot water (Great Lakes Echo): The Glen Lake Association is doing its part to fight against invasive species with its boat-wash program in the northwestern Lower Peninsula. The boat wash station uses a warm-water spray to clean the hull and flush the engine of boats that have been in another lake. The program began in 1994 and efforts seem to be paying off; Big and Little Glen lakes are nearly invasives-free.

Climate change alters apples’ flavor (Conservation Magazine): A new study reports that Fuji apples are becoming softer and sweeter as a result of global warming. Scientists studied the apples from 1970 to 2010 and found that the annual average air temperature at the site increased by 0.31 to 0.34 degrees Celsius. Over that same time period, the apples’ acid level and firmness dropped.