Crangling in Land O' Lakes makes for a shocking summer

Alberto Salazar
Casting a line on Little Arbor Vitae Lake. Credit: Alberto Salazar.

Alberto Salazar, a student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, is part of Cary Institute's 2019 Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) cohort. The REU program, supported by the National Science Foundation, gives undergraduate students an opportunity to participate in hands-on research projects alongside scientist mentors. This summer, Alberto is working with Cary scientists Chris Solomon and Alex Ross on two projects based in northern Wisconsin.

Alberto offers a taste of his research experience:

My Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) project with Chris Solomon and Alex Ross is headquartered at the University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Center (UNDERC) in Land O' Lakes, Wisconsin. UNDERC is a research property owned by the University of Notre Dame, where people conduct field experiments to study freshwater ecology and fisheries. It has been an amazing experience so far. I’ve worked and learned around some great people and have been exposed to many new things – like getting to see the sunrise at 6 in the morning while working, and getting to visit beautiful lakes. Being in this environment has been great because I am around so many great people.

Alberto Salazar holding a musky (Esox masquinongy) caught during a night fishing session for the FishScapes project. Credit: Colin Dassow. 

I am on a rotating work schedule here. This means that I work on a research project called ‘FishScapes’ for one week, and then the next week, I work on my independent REU project. With FishScapes, I am either doing ‘crangling’ during the days or shocking overnight.

‘Crangling’ involves interviewing anglers on their fishing habits to understand the factors that influence their decisions on where to fish and how much time they spend fishing on a particular lake. I travel to different lakes in the area to interview people on their fishing experience.

Shocking happens overnight. With this method, we administer an underwater shock that brings fish to the surface of the lake. This helps us count fish and estimate population numbers of large and smallmouth bass in the lakes we are studying. Fish are not harmed during shocking.

Sampling at sunset on Little Arbor Vitae Lake. Credit: Alberto Salazar.

In the weeks that I am not working on FishScapes, I am working on my REU project looking at where anglers choose to fish – to see if there is a correlation between preferred fishing sites and road quality around a lake. I’ll be measuring the quality of roads around lakes in northern Wisconsin to determine whether road quality impacts angler effort. Roads are important because with big boats come big trucks that need a safe road to access the lake. The same goes for docks. If you have a big boat, you will need a good dock to launch. If neither the roads nor the docks are able to safely accommodate large vehicles and large boats, these anglers will not be able to fish in that lake and will need to go elsewhere.

For this research, I will be using GIS images, along with dockside angler surveys, to measure road quality and determine if affects angler efforts. We expect that the condition of roads surrounding the lakes, particularly whether or not the roads are paved, will influence how heavily a lake is fished.

View from the researchers’ lodge at the UNDERC research station. Credit: Alberto Salazar.

Apart from working, living here has been a unique experience. Living with seven other guys in a rather crammed apartment means that your privacy is very limited. But this also means that I’ve been able to get very close with some of the people here in only three weeks. Being at a different place for the summer has given me the chance to learn about many different things and I’m excited to see what happens in the coming months.

 

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