Great Lakes ecosystems changing from declining food resources, finds study

Sponsored by


ANN ARBOR, MI, Dec. 19, 2013 -- A recent U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) indicates that a decline in food resources feeding lake organisms are likely causing dramatic changes in the Great Lakes.

According to the research, water clarity has been increasing in a majority of the Great Lakes, while phytoplankton (the microscopic water organisms that feed all other animals), native invertebrates and prey fish have been declining since 1998. These changes fundamentally affect the ecosystem's valuable resources and are likely caused by decreasing levels of lake nutrients and growing numbers of invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels.

"These findings provide critical information to help decision-makers understand changes that are affecting the Great Lakes fishery that generates about $7 billion for the economy each year," said Suzette Kimball, acting director of the USGS. "The work is the result of a strong public-private collaboration and greatly contributes to managers' ability to deal effectively with the changes occurring in these unique and vast freshwater ecosystems so important to our nation."

The study found that inputs of phosphorus have declined in the Great Lakes since 1972, when the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement was signed. The growing numbers of invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels have caused phosphorus levels to decline further over the last decade in some lakes by filtering out nutrients and phytoplankton. Likewise, these decreases have the potential to affect the smallest organisms up to the top predators.

"Our study provides a comprehensive ecological report card that highlights existing gaps in scientific understanding and monitoring of the complex Great Lakes ecosystems," said David "Bo" Bunnell, USGS scientist and lead author of the study. "Ideally, it will spur future research to more rigorously test some of the predictions born from our relatively simple analyses."

###

Sponsored by

TODAY'S HEADLINES

Recipients of prestigious CG/LA 2014 Project of the Year Awards announced

CG/LA Infrastructure recently announced the recipients of its prestigious 2014 Projects of the Year Awards during the 6th North American Strategic Infrastructure Leadership Forum held in the nation's capital.

Major water distribution contract approved in city of San Antonio

Today in a unanimous vote, the San Antonio City Council approved a contract between the San Antonio Water System and Vista Ridge Consortium to bring 16.3 billion gallons of new non-Edwards Aquifer water to San Antonio annually for 30 years.

New Ontario, Chinese partnership to unlock market opportunities for energy, water innovation

The Advanced Energy Centre, Water Technology Acceleration Project and China Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection Group have announced an MOU signing to explore deployment opportunities for Ontario's advanced energy and water technologies in China.

VIDEO: Desalination global news round-up

Join WWi Chief Editor Tom Freyberg for a round-up of the latest desalination industry news from the last two weeks. Watch the video for the full stories…

FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA