Weather, water conditions pose threats to Isle Royale

Capital News Service
LANSING — The introduction of invasive species and the decline of native species are among the most pressing issues facing Isle Royale, according to the national park’s top administrator. And rising temperatures make those problems even worse, Park Superintendent Phyllis Green said. “Some things that factor into the islands pretty heavily are that winds over the Great Lakes are stronger – Lake Superior being about 12 percent higher than it was in 1985,” Green said in a talk at Michigan State University. “And the waters in the Great Lakes are hotter, increasing faster than the air temperatures.”

Lake Superior’s temperature rose 4.5 degrees from 1979 to 2006, double the air temperature increases. The added heat could help with the survival of aquatic invasive species, Green said.

Grassland biofuels better for bees, researchers find

Capital News Service
LANSING – A hand-held vacuum seems an unlikely tool in a field ecologist’s kit. But sucking up bees from sunflowers was a necessary step in assessing how human energy needs may affect Michigan pollinators. Researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Wisconsin recently published a study comparing the effects of two types of biofuel production on Michigan’s bee populations. Biofuels are fuels derived from renewable plant or animal sources that can reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The study compared two sources of biofuels: annual biofuel crops, such as corn and soybeans, and perennial biofuel crops, like prairie grass and switchgrass.

Incentives could encourage farmers to cut greenhouse gas emissions

Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan farmers who cut their fertilizer use could help reduce greenhouse gases. And if done through a new emissions trading program, they could get other industries to pay them to do it without harming crop yields. The method encourages farmers to lower emissions of nitrous oxide from fertilizer. Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas linked to human-induced global warming. “It’s a carrot rather than a stick,” said Adam Diamant, technical executive at the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, Calif., which developed the method with Michigan State University scientists.