Dr. Kenneth Elgersma has been awarded a $50,000 research grant from U-M’s new Water Center to support Great Lakes restoration and protection efforts.

Elgersma, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Professor and Chair Deborah Goldberg, is moving to University of Northern Iowa in September 2013 to begin a faculty position. The grant will help him expand on research he began while in the U-M Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Elgersma’s project is titled "Assessing ecosystem services provided by restored wetlands under current and future climate and land-use scenarios." The goal is to augment an existing computer model to assess the effectiveness of techniques — including herbicide application, burning and mowing — to control non-native weedy plant invasions.

“I am very excited that the Water Center has funded our work,” said Elgersma. “Invasive species are a serious stressor in Great Lakes wetlands, and our group has been focused on understanding the factors that contribute to invasions and the consequences for wetland ecosystems. This funding allows us to take our work one step further to understand how different management practices affect the invasion process and the ecosystem as a whole. So we're extending our basic research and applying it to the real need to understand how to mitigate the effects of invasions. Our work is geographically focused on Michigan coastal wetlands, but results will be applicable throughout the Great Lakes Basin.” Elgersma has been working on this research with Goldberg, SNRE Professor Bill Currie, EEB postdoctoral fellow Jason Martina, and collaborators at Michigan State University and Michigan Technological University.

The Water Center awarded 12 research grants, totaling nearly $570,000, to support diverse projects, including efforts to track the remediation of harmful algae blooms, assess the effectiveness of techniques to control non-native weedy plant invasions, study chromosomal damage in tree swallow nestlings, and monitor fish responses to restoration activities.

The grants were awarded to multidisciplinary teams led by researchers at universities across the Great Lakes region and beyond. Fifty-four proposals were submitted for the first round of Water Center research grants. A second round of larger grants, of up to $500,000 each, will be awarded later this year.

The $9 million Water Center was formed in October with an initial focus on providing a solid scientific framework for more efficient and effective Great Lakes restoration. As a center of U-M's Graham Sustainability Institute, the Water Center was made possible by a $4.5 million, three-year grant from the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation and additional funds from the university.

The Great Lakes hold 20 percent of the world's surface freshwater. The region includes 10,000 miles of coastline and numerous globally rare plant and animal species. In addition, the Great Lakes support a wide range of recreational and economic activities, including vibrant tourism and a sport fishery industry that contributes $4 billion to the economy.

Article in the U-M Record Update