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U.S. Geological Survey - Great Lakes Science Center


  • Andrew M. Deines, David B. Bunnell, Mark W. Rogers, T. Douglas Beard Jr., and William W. Taylor 2015 A review of the global relationship among freshwater fish, autotrophic activity, and regional climate. Springer . Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

    The relationship between autotrophic activity and freshwater fish populations is an important consideration for ecologists describing trophic structure in aquatic communities, fisheries managers tasked with increasing sustainable fisheries development, and fish farmers seeking to maximize production. Previous studies of the empirical relationships of autotrophic activity and freshwater fish yield have found positive relationships but were limited by small sample sizes, small geographic scopes, and the inability to compare patterns among many types of measurement techniques. Individual studies and reviews have also lacked consistent consideration of regional climate factors which may inform relationships between fisheries and autotrophic activity. We compiled data from over 700 freshwater systems worldwide and used meta-analysis and linear models to develop a comprehensive global synthesis between multiple metrics of autotrophic activity, fisheries, and climate indicators. Our results demonstrate that multiple metrics of fish (i.e., catch per unit effort, yield, and production) increase with autotrophic activity across a variety of fisheries. At the global scale additional variation in this positive relationship can be ascribed to regional climate differences (i.e., temperature and precipitation) across systems. Our results provide a method and proof-of-concept for assessing inland fisheries production at the global scale, where current estimates are highly uncertain, and may therefore inform the continued sustainable use of global inland fishery resources.

    Contribution #1924
  • Frederick M. Soster, Gerald Matisoff, Donald W. Schloesser, and William J. Edwards 2015 Potential impact of Chironomus plumosus larvae on hypolimnetic oxygen in the central basin of Lake Erie. Elsevier . Journal of Great Lakes Research

    Previous studies have indicated that burrow-irrigating infauna can increase sediment oxygen demand (SOD) and impact hypolimnetic oxygen in stratified lakes. We conducted laboratory microcosm experiments and computer simulations with larvae of the burrowing benthic midge Chironomus plumosusto quantify burrow oxygen uptake rates and subsequent contribution to sediment oxygen demand in central Lake Erie. Burrow oxygen uptake and water flow velocities through burrows were measured using oxygen microelectrodes and hot film anemometry, respectively. Burrow oxygen consumption averaged 2.66 × 10− 10 (SE = ± 7.82 × 10− 11) mol O2/burrow/s at 24 °C and 9.64 × 10− 10 (SE = ± 4.86 × 10− 10) mol O2/burrow/s at 15 °C. In sealed microcosm experiments, larvae increased SOD 500% at 24 °C (density = 1508/m2) and 375% at 15 °C (density = 864/m2). To further evaluate effects of densities of C. plumosus burrows on SOD we developed a 3-D transport reaction model of the process. Using experimental data and chironomid abundance data in faunal surveys in 2009 and 2010, we estimated that bioirrigation by a population of 140 larvae/m2 could account for between 2.54 × 10− 11 mol/L/s (model results) and 5.58 × 10− 11 mol/L/s (experimental results) of the average 4.22 × 10− 11 mol/L/s oxygen depletion rate between 1970 and 2003, which could have accounted for 60–132% of the oxygen decline. At present, it appears that the population density of this species may be an important factor in development of hypoxic or anoxic conditions in central Lake Erie.

    Contribution #1923
  • David M. Warner and Barry M. Lesht 2015 Relative importance of phosphorus, invasive mussels and climate for patterns in chlorophyll a and primary production in Lakes Michigan and Huron. John Wiley & Sons . Freshwater Biology
    1. Lakes Michigan and Huron, which are undergoing oligotrophication after reduction of phosphorus loading, invasion by dreissenid mussels and variation in climate, provide an opportunity to conduct large-scale evaluation of the relative importance of these changes for lake productivity. We used remote sensing, field data and an information-theoretic approach to identify factors that showed statistical relationships with observed changes in chlorophyll a (chla) and primary production (PP).

    2. Spring phosphorus (TP), annual mean chla and PP have all declined significantly in both lakes since the late 1990s. Additionally, monthly mean values of chla have decreased in many but not all months, indicating altered seasonal patterns. The most striking change has been the decrease in chla concentration during the spring bloom.

    3. Mean chlorophyll a concentration was 17% higher in Lake Michigan than in Lake Huron, and total production for 2008 in Lake Michigan (9.5 tg year−1) was 10% greater than in Lake Huron (7.8 tg year−1), even though Lake Michigan is slightly smaller (by 3%) than Lake Huron. Differences between the lakes in the early 1970s evidently persisted to 2008.

    4. Invasive mussels influenced temporal trends in spring chla and annual primary production. However, TP had a greater effect on chla and primary production than did the mussels, and TP varied independently from them. Two climatic variables (precipitation and air temperature in the basins) influenced annual chla and annual PP, while the extent of ice cover influenced TP but not chla or primary production. Our results demonstrate that observed temporal patterns in chla and PP are the result of complex interactions of P, climate and invasive mussels.


    Contribution #1922
  • Peter C. Esselman, R. Jan Stevenson, Frank Lupi, Catherine M. Riseng, and Michael J. Wiley 2015 Landscape Prediction and Mapping of Game Fish Biomass, an Ecosystem Service of Michigan Rivers. Taylor & Francis . North American Journal of Fisheries Management 35 (2). pp. 302-320.

    The increased integration of ecosystem service concepts into natural resource management places renewed emphasis on prediction and mapping of fish biomass as a major provisioning service of rivers. The goals of this study were to predict and map patterns of fish biomass as a proxy for the availability of catchable fish for anglers in rivers and to identify the strongest landscape constraints on fish productivity. We examined hypotheses about fish responses to total phosphorus (TP), as TP is a growth-limiting nutrient known to cause increases (subsidy response) and/or decreases (stress response) in fish biomass depending on its concentration and the species being considered. Boosted regression trees were used to define nonlinear functions that predicted the standing crops of Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis, Brown Trout Salmo trutta, Smallmouth Bass Micropterus dolomieu, panfishes (seven centrarchid species), and Walleye Sander vitreusby using landscape and modeled local-scale predictors. Fitted models were highly significant and explained 22–56% of the variation in validation data sets. Nonlinear and threshold responses were apparent for numerous predictors, including TP concentration, which had significant effects on all except the Walleye fishery. Brook Trout and Smallmouth Bass exhibited both subsidy and stress responses, panfish biomass exhibited a subsidy response only, and Brown Trout exhibited a stress response. Maps of reach-specific standing crop predictions showed patterns of predicted fish biomass that corresponded to spatial patterns in catchment area, water temperature, land cover, and nutrient availability. Maps illustrated predictions of higher trout biomass in coldwater streams draining glacial till in northern Michigan, higher Smallmouth Bass and panfish biomasses in warmwater systems of southern Michigan, and high Walleye biomass in large main-stem rivers throughout the state. Our results allow fisheries managers to examine the biomass potential of streams, describe geographic patterns of fisheries, explore possible nutrient management targets, and identify habitats that are candidates for species management.

    Contribution #1917
  • Richard T. Kraus, Carey Knight, Troy M. Farmer, Ann Marie Gorman, Paris Collingsworth, Glenn J. Warren, Patrick M. Kocovsky, and Joseph D. Conroy 2015 Dynamic Hypoxic Zones in Lake Erie Compress Fish Habitat, Altering Vulnerability to Fishing Gears. NRC Research Press . Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences

    Seasonal degradation of aquatic habitats from hypoxia occurs in numerous freshwater and coastal marine systems and can result in direct mortality or displacement of fish. Yet, fishery landings from these systems are frequently unresponsive to changes in the severity and extent of hypoxia, and population-scale effects have been difficult to measure except in extreme hypoxic conditions with hypoxia-sensitive species. We investigated fine-scale temporal and spatial variability in dissolved oxygen in Lake Erie as it related to fish distribution and catch efficiencies of both active (bottom trawls) and passive (trap nets) fishing gears. Temperature and dissolved oxygen loggers placed near the edge of the hypolimnion exhibited much higher than expected variability. Hypoxic episodes of variable durations were frequently punctuated by periods of normoxia, consistent with high frequency internal waves. High-resolution interpolations of water quality and hydroacoustic surveys suggest that fish habitat is compressed during hypoxic episodes, resulting in higher fish densities near the edges of hypoxia. At fixed locations with passive commercial fishing gear, catches with the highest values occurred when bottom waters were hypoxic for intermediate proportions of time. Proximity to hypoxia explained significant variation in bottom trawl catches with higher catch rates near the edge of hypoxia. These results emphasize how hypoxia may elevate catch rates in various types of fishing gears, leading to a lack of association between indices of hypoxia and fishery landings. Increased catch rates of fish at the edges of hypoxia have important implications for stock assessment models that assume catchability is spatially homogeneous.

    Contribution #1916
  • Robin L. DeBruyne and Edward F. Roseman 2015 The renaissance of North American large rivers: synthesis of the special section. John Wiley & Sons . Restoration Ecology 23 (2). pp. 139-142.
    Contribution #1915
  • Mick Micacchion, Martin A. Stapanian, and Jean V. Adams 2015 Site-Scale Disturbance and Habitat Development Best Predict an Index of Amphibian Biotic Integrity in Ohio Shrub and Forested Wetlands. Springer . Wetlands

    We determined the best predictors of an index of amphibian biotic integrity calculated from 54 shrub and forested wetlands in Ohio, USA using a two-step sequential holdout validation procedure. We considered 13 variables as predictors: four metrics of wetland condition from the Ohio Rapid Assessment Method (ORAM), a wetland vegetation index of biotic integrity, and eight metrics from a landscape disturbance index. For all iterations, the best model included the single ORAM metric that assesses habitat alteration, substrate disturbance, and habitat development within a wetland. Our results align with results of similar studies that have associated high scores for wetland vegetation indices of biotic integrity with low habitat alteration and substrate disturbance within wetlands. Thus, implementing similar management practices (e.g., not removing downed woody debris, retaining natural morphological features, decreasing nutrient input from surrounding agricultural lands) could concurrently increase ecological integrity of both plant and amphibian communities in a wetland. Further, our results have the unexpected effect of making progress toward a more unifying theory of ecological indices.

    Contribution #1913
  • Kurt P. Kowalski, Charles Bacon, Wesley Bickford, Heather Braun, Keith Clay, Michele Leduc-Lapierre, Elizabeth Lillard, Melissa McCormick, Eric Nelson, Monica Torres, James White, and Douglas A. Wilcox 2015 Advancing the science of microbial symbiosis to support invasive species management: A case study on Phragmites in the Great Lakes. Frontiers . Frontiers in Microbiology 6 (95).

    A growing body of literature supports microbial symbiosis as a foundational principle for the competitive success of invasive plant species. Further exploration of the relationships between invasive species and their associated microbiomes, as well as the interactions with the microbiomes of native species, can lead to key new insights into invasive success and potentially new and effective control approaches. In this manuscript, we review microbial relationships with plants, outline steps necessary to develop invasive species control strategies that are based on those relationships, and use the invasive plant species Phragmites australis (common reed) as an example of how development of microbial-based control strategies can be enhanced using a collective impact approach. The proposed science agenda, developed by the Collaborative for Microbial Symbiosis and Phragmites Management, contains a foundation of sequential steps and mutually-reinforcing tasks to guide the development of microbial-based control strategies for Phragmites and other invasive species. Just as the science of plant-microbial symbiosis can be transferred for use in other invasive species, so too can the model of collective impact be applied to other avenues of research and management.

    Contribution #1912
  • Chan Lan Chun, Chase I. Kahn, Andrew J. Borchert, Muruleedhara N. Byappanahalli, Richard L. Whitman, Julie Peller, Christina Pier, Guangyun Lin, Eric A. Johnson, and Michael J. Sadowsky 2015 Prevalence of toxin-producing Clostridium botulinum associated with the macroalga Cladophora in three Great Lakes: Growth and management. Elsevier . Science of the Total Environment 511 pp. 523-529.

    The reemergence of avian botulism caused by Clostridium botulinum type E has been observed across the Great Lakes in recent years. Evidence suggests an association between the nuisance algae, Cladophoraspp., and C. botulinum in nearshore areas of the Great Lakes. However, the nature of the association between Cladophora and C. botulinum is not fully understood due, in part, to the complex food web interactions in this disease etiology. In this study, we extensively evaluated their association by quantitatively examining population size and serotypes of C. botulinum in algal mats collected from wide geographic areas in lakes Michigan, Ontario, and Erie in 2011–2012 and comparing them with frequencies in other matrices such as sand and water. A high prevalence (96%) of C. botulinum type E was observed inCladophora mats collected from shorelines of the Great Lakes in 2012. Among the algae samples containing detectable C. botulinum, the population size of C. Botulinum type E was 100–104 MPN/g dried algae, which was much greater (up to 103 fold) than that found in sand or the water column, indicating thatCladophora mats are sources of this pathogen. Mouse toxinantitoxin bioassays confirmed that the putativeC. botulinum belonged to the type E serotype. Steam treatment was effective in reducing or eliminating C. botulinum type E viable cells in Cladophora mats, thereby breaking the potential transmission route of toxin up to the food chain. Consequently, our data suggest that steam treatment incorporated with a beach cleaning machine may be an effective treatment of Cladophora-borne C. botulinum and may reduce bird mortality and human health risks.

    Contribution #1911
  • Jamie M. Marranca, Amy B. Welsh, and Edward Roseman 2015 Genetic effects of habitat restoration in the Laurentian Great Lakes: an assessment of lake sturgeon origin and genetic diversity. John Wiley & Sons . Restoration Ecology

    Lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) have experienced significant habitat loss, resulting in reduced population sizes. Three artificial reefs were built in the Huron-Erie corridor in the Great Lakes to replace lost spawning habitat. Genetic data were collected to determine the source and numbers of adult lake sturgeon spawning on the reefs and to determine if the founder effect resulted in reduced genetic diversity. DNA was extracted from larval tail clips and 12 microsatellite loci were amplified. Larval genotypes were then compared to 22 previously studied spawning lake sturgeon populations in the Great Lakes to determine the source of the parental population. The effective number of breeders (Nb) was calculated for each reef cohort. The larval genotypes were then compared to the source population to determine if there were any losses in genetic diversity that are indicative of the founder effect. The St. Clair and Detroit River adult populations were found to be the source parental population for the larvae collected on all three artificial reefs. There were large numbers of contributing adults relative to the number of sampled larvae. There was no significant difference between levels of genetic diversity in the source population and larval samples from the artificial reefs; however, there is some evidence for a genetic bottleneck in the reef populations likely due to the founder effect. Habitat restoration in the Huron-Erie corridor is likely resulting in increased habitat for the large lake sturgeon population in the system and in maintenance of the population's genetic diversity.

    Contribution #1910


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