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.

New flower species found only on Michigan island

After four decades of research, Robert Kowal has identified Packera insulae-regalis, a flower found only on Isle Royale in Lake Superior, as its very own species. “It’s like having a baby, except this will live for all time,” Kowal said. The professor of botany at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has studied the yellow flower since 1972 when a graduate student brought him a sample. He grew it in a test garden and collected data for the next 10 years, finding clues that the flowers are unlike other packera plants. “I had thought it was a widespread species of the Lake Superior area,” Kowal said.