Vernal Pools, Rare Plants, and Invasive Species: this week in environmental news

Searching for woodland fairies and fingernail clams (Great Lakes Echo): In this podcast, Yu Man Lee, a conservationist, zoologist with the Michigan Natural Features Inventory and Trustee at Michigan Nature Association, discusses vernal pools and how they provide habitats for unique creatures one won’t find anywhere else. She also speaks about how MNFI is teaming up with citizen scientists to help protect vernal pools.

Rare Plants Discovered Near Detroit (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Newsroom): It was recently discovered that Humbug Marsh, part of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, is home to a rare grass-like plant called the hairy-fruited sedge and an orchid species called oval ladies’ tresses. Records show that these plants have never been found in Wayne County. Humbug Marsh, which was determined to have had the most disturbance over the years, has a disproportionately higher abundance of new, common species to older, rare ones that have been together for a long time.


Oval ladies’ tresses. Photo: David McAdoo/Creative Commons.

A sound strategy: blasting carp from the Great Lakes (Great Lakes Echo): A recent study found that sound could be the answer to keeping invasive silver carp out of the Great Lakes. What appears to be the most effective in scaring off unwanted fish is a complex sound that consists of multiple pure tones. The carp are harmful due to their fast growth, prolific spawning, and ability to out-compete native fish for food and space.

round goby

The long term effects of round goby in Lake Erie are still unknown. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

Round goby a good-news, bad-news Great Lakes invader (Great Lakes Echo): The round goby is one of the nastiest aliens in the Great Lakes – with what the DNR calls its voracious appetite and an aggressive nature which allows them to dominate over native species. But smallmouth bass find them yummy chow, and that’s also good news for crayfish that used to top the smallmouth bass menu. Although the round goby is responsible for a decreased abundance of some bottom-dwelling Great Lakes native species, the study said that other species have benefited, such as burbot and the Lake Erie water snake.