New IISG research will inform natural resource decisions

October 16, 2013

URBANA, Ill. - Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant announces more than $300,000 in funding awards for three research projects over the next two years. Funded projects seek to improve understanding of the Lake Michigan nearshore food web, uncover connections between sediment removal projects and a community’s ability to weather environmental hazards, and identify why people adopt stormwater management practices. 

“We are very pleased to continue our support of outstanding research projects on topics with real significance for the region,” said Tomas Hook, IISG associate director for research. “These projects address some of the biggest concerns facing the Great Lakes and their results will help policy makers and natural resource managers preserve Lake Michigan habitats and strengthen lakeside communities.”

IISG is continuing to fund projects focused on Lake Michigan nearshore food webs with a study examining the importance of wetlands in the lives of sport fishes like yellow perch, walleye, and largemouth and smallmouth bass. Gary Lamberti from the University of Notre Dame will use location monitoring data and tissue samples from fish across the lake to pinpoint the types of wetlands species that rely on the most for food and shelter. The results will help natural resource managers target protection and restoration efforts on areas critical to the overall health of the lake. Lamberti will work with Patrick Forsythe from University of Wisconsin-Green Bay as part of a larger project with Wisconsin Sea Grant.

A community’s vulnerability to environmental hazards depends on many factors—things like average incomes, education levels, hazard awareness, and public engagement. Bethany Cutts and Andrew Greenlee from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will investigate how these factors change when a community becomes involved in sediment removal projects. Using towns in the Lincoln Park-Milwaukee Estuary and Grand Calumet areas of concern as models, Cutts and Greenlee will develop tools urban policy makers can use to identify the best ways to help communities prepare for and recover from hazards such as pollution, natural disasters, and changing weather patterns.

Linda Prokopy and Nicholas Babin will use Sea Grant funding to better understand what motivates landowners to adopt and continue practices that reduce stormwater runoff, such as using rain barrels to catch runoff from roofs or building rain gardens to absorb water and filter out pollutants. Stormwater runoff is one of the biggest culprits in lake and river pollution, and community-wide adoption of best management practices is key to protecting water quality. Armed with their findings, the Purdue University researchers will team up with the non-profit organization Save the Dunes to improve stormwater outreach and education efforts in northwestern Indiana.

Visit to learn about past research projects and their results.

The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program (IISG) is one of 33 National Sea Grant College Programs. Created by Congress in 1966, Sea Grant combines university, government, business and industry expertise to address coastal and Great Lakes’ needs. Funding is provided by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Purdue University at West Lafayette, Indiana. Visit the IISG blog at You can also find IISG on Facebook and Twitter.

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