The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is made up of 5,700 acres along the Detroit River and Lake Erie. It is used for studying wetlands and other ecosystems by using it as a natural laboratory. The most recent studies being performed in this area have been by students and faculty at Eastern Michigan University, in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, who were recently awarded $487,000 in grants
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Ocean Service, Ocean Resources Conservation and Assessment Program. The purpose of the money was to help the effort of continued research of the effects of the invasion of the common reed (Phragmites australis). This weed has the ability grow over 10-feet tall and out-compete native aquatic plants which can be very damaging to the ecosystem of the wetland.
Along with the common reed, the purple loosestrife and the aquatic alga are also dangers to the wetland. EMU hopes to soon expand their research to involve these other invasive species. Phase II, as it will be called, will look at these numerous invasive species and assess their long-term tolls on the area. Efforts will be made through water quality analysis, on-the-ground surveys, mapping of the locations, and remote satellite detection of the species.
The crucial research that is going into all of this is particularly important in the Great Lakes Water Basin Ecosystem. These coastal wetlands support numerous ecosystems, most notably, wildlife and waterfowl habitats. The efforts to preserve these habitats is just one of EMU's stabs at strengthening its science, technology, engineering, and math programs. All in all, it seems to be a win-win situation for both the ecosystems and the people.
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The thoughts, opinions, and positions represented herein are solely those of the participating students and in no way represent an official position or policy recommendation of Michigan State University.