Image courtesy Dave Herasimtschuk, Freshwaters Illustrated
Recently I’ve had a flurry of Fenske Fellowship activities, all of them memorable! After returning from the holiday break on January 6, I met with Troy Zorn, Michigan DNR Fisheries Research Biologist and Fenske mentor, on campus in East Lansing. We exchanged stories of our time away from work … mine back home in Minnesota with family and friends (with an awe-inspiring Rachel Carson biography in hand), and Troy’s on a marine fishing adventure! After recounting our holiday memories, we got down to business on Fenske developments, charting a course for a busy month of Inland Trout Angler Survey (ITAS) and Inland Trout Management Plan (ITMP) work. We both acknowledged the need for a formal document describing results from the ITAS and decided to format the summary as a Research Report, DNR style. Talk about fisheries management experience! So far, the Fenske Fellowship has provided unparalleled opportunities to see the fisheries world from an applied research and management perspective.
Troy and I decided that the Research Report should transcend mere description of ITAS results. We settled on a format that will both report results and compare them to previous angler surveys, including a recent survey completed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. We believe providing context for our results will enhance the utility of the Research Report for advancing stream salmonid management. Speaking of context, our analysis of the ITAS is occurring simultaneously with development of the ITMP and with publication of a manuscript (Carlson et al. 2016) that Troy and I co-authored with Dr. William W. Taylor (my Ph.D. advisor at Michigan State University), Dr. Dana Infante (MSU), and Kelsey Schlee (M.S., 2014, MSU). In this paper we predict future stream temperatures in Michigan using coupled climate models and relate temperature to projected effects on growth and survival of brook trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout. This is timely information, given the importance of managing streams for thermal resilience in a changing climate. The connections among the ITAS, the ITMP, and this recent paper are numerous, and I gave a formal presentation on them at the recent Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, held in Grand Rapids, MI (January 24-27). Troy also gave a presentation, and we had the chance to meet and discuss our writing assignments for the ITAS and the ITMP. We’re happy to report that as of yesterday (January 31), the first draft of the Research Report is complete. 65 pages and counting, with many more interpretations, conclusions, and tables to add. We’ll keep you posted as our work on the Research Report and ITMP progresses!
Lessons learned since “The Fresh Fish of Bellaire”:
- Context, context, context
- Stand-alone results from social surveys are interesting, but they become truly valuable for fisheries management when researchers interpret them in the context of previous studies. The recent Wisconsin trout angler survey has provided invaluable context for understanding results of the ITAS.
- Embrace professional networking opportunities
- My work with Michigan DNR mentors has been rewarding and eye-opening … a wonderful supplement to my formal education on campus in East Lansing. I encourage all aspiring natural resource professionals to network with veterans of their profession. Events like the Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference provide valuable networking opportunities. But it doesn’t end there. Contact natural resource professionals in your area to learn about how to get involved. You won’t regret it!