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U.S. Geological Survey - Great Lakes Science Center


  • 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
  • Zachary S. Feiner, David B. Bunnell, Tomas O. Höök, Charles P. Madenjian, David M. Warner, and Paris D. Collingsworth 2015 Non-statioinary recruitment dynamics of rainbow smelt: The influence of environmental variables and variation in size structure and length-at-maturation. Elsevier . Journal of Great Lakes Research

    Fish stock-recruitment dynamics may be difficult to elucidate because of nonstationary relationships resulting from shifting environmental conditions and fluctuations in important vital rates such as individual growth or maturation. The Great Lakes have experienced environmental stressors that may have changed population demographics and stock-recruitment relationships while causing the declines of several prey fish species, including rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax). We investigated changes in the size and maturation of rainbow smelt in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron and recruitment dynamics of the Lake Michigan stock over the past four decades. Mean lengths and length-at-maturation of rainbow smelt generally declined over time in both lakes. To evaluate recruitment, we used both a Ricker model and a Kalman filter-random walk (KF-RW) model which incorporated nonstationarity in stock productivity by allowing the productivity term to vary over time. The KF-RW model explained nearly four times more variation in recruitment than the Ricker model, indicating the productivity of the Lake Michigan stock has increased. By accounting for this nonstationarity, we were able identify significant variations in stock productivity, evaluate its importance to rainbow smelt recruitment, and speculate on potential environmental causes for the shift. Our results suggest that investigating mechanisms driving nonstationary shifts in stock-recruit relationships can provide valuable insights into temporal variation in fish population dynamics.

    Contribution #1903
  • Brian Lantry, Jean Adams, Gavin Christie, Teodore Schaner, James Bowlby, Michael Keir, Jana Lantry, Paul Sullivan, Daniel Bishop, Ted Treska, Bruce Morrison 2015 Sea lamprey mark type, marking rate, and parasite-host relationships for lake trout and other species in Lake Ontario. Journal of Great Lakes Research

    We examined how attack frequency by sea lampreys on fishes in Lake Ontario varied in response to sea lamprey abundance and preferred host abundance (lake trout N433 mm). For this analysis we used two gill net assessment surveys, one angler creel survey, three salmonid spawning run datasets, one adult sea lamprey assessment, and a bottom trawl assessment of dead lake trout. The frequency of fresh sea lamprey marks observed on lake trout from assessment surveys was strongly related to the frequency of sea lamprey attacks observed on salmon and trout from the creel survey and spawning migrations. Attack frequencies on all salmonids examined were related to the ratio between the abundances of adult sea lampreys and lake trout. Reanalysis of the susceptibility to sea lamprey attack for lake trout strains stocked into Lake Ontario reaffirmed that Lake Superior strain lake trout were among the most and Seneca Lake strain among the least susceptible and that Lewis Lake strain lake trout were even more susceptible than the Superior strain. Seasonal attack frequencies indicated that as the number of observed sea lamprey attacks decreased during June–September, the ratio of healing to fresh marks also decreased. Simulation of the ratios of healing to fresh marks indicated that increased lethality of attacks by growing sea lampreys contributed to the decline in the ratios and supported laboratory studies about wound healing duration.

    Contribution #1902
  • Clifford E. Starliper, Henry G. Ketola, Andrew D. Noyes, William B. Schill, Fred G. Henson, Marc A. Chalupnicki, and Dawn E. Dittman 2015 An investigation of the bactericidal activity of selected essential oils to Aeromonas spp.. Cairo University, Production and hosting by Elsevier . Journal of Advanced Research 6 pp. 89-97.
    Diseases of fishes caused by Aeromonas spp. are common, have broad host ranges and may
    cause high mortality. Treatments of captive-reared populations using antimicrobials are limited
    with concerns for bacterial resistance development and environmental dissemination. This study
    was done to determine whether selected plant-derived essential oils were bactericidal to Aeromonas
    spp. Initially, twelve essential oils were evaluated using a disk diffusion assay to an isolate of
    A. salmonicida subsp. salmonicida, cause of fish furunculosis. The greatest zones of inhibition
    were obtained with oils of cinnamon Cinnamomum cassia, oregano Origanum vulgare, lemongrass
    Cymbopogon citratus and thyme Thymus vulgaris. Minimum bactericidal concentrations
    (MBC’s) were determined for these four oils, Allimed (garlic extract, Allium sativum) and colloidal
    silver to sixty-nine isolates representing nine Aeromonas spp. The lowest mean MBCs
    (0.02–0.04%) were obtained with three different sources of cinnamon oil. MBCs for three
    sources of oregano and lemongrass oils ranged from 0.14% to 0.30% and 0.10% to 0.65%,
    respectively, and for two thyme oils were 2.11% and 2.22%. The highest concentration (5%)
    of Allimed tested resulted in MBCs to twelve isolates. A concentration of silver greater than
    15 mg/L would be required to determine MBCs for all but one isolate.
    Contribution #1807
  • Nicholas S. Johnson, Tyler J. Buchinger, Weiming Li 2015 Reproductive Ecology of Lampreys.

    Margaret F. Docker

    Lampreys: Biology, Conservation and Control Springer Netherlands . 1 pp. 265-303.

    Lampreys typically spawn in riffle habitats during the spring. Spawning activity and diel (i.e., during daylight and at night) behavioral patterns are initiated when spring water temperatures increase to levels that coincide with optimal embryologic development. Nests are constructed in gravel substrate using the oral disc to move stones and the tail to fan sediment out of the nest. Spawning habitat used by individual species is generally a function of adult size, where small-bodied species construct nests in shallower water with slower flow and smaller gravel than large-bodied species. The mating system of lampreys is primarily polygynandrous (i.e., where multiple males mate with multiple females). Lamprey species with adult total length less than 30 cm generally spawn communally, where a nest may contain 20 or more individuals of both sexes. Lamprey species with adult sizes greater than 35 cm generally spawn in groups of two to four. Operational sex ratios of lampreys are highly variable across species, populations, and time, but are generally male biased. The act of spawning typically starts with the male attaching with his oral disc to the back of the female’s head; the male and female then entwine and simultaneously release gametes. However, alternative mating behaviors (e.g., release of gametes without paired courtship and sneaker males) have been observed. Future research should determine how multiple modalities of communication among lampreys (including mating pheromones) are integrated to inform species recognition and mate choice. Such research could inform both sea lamprey control strategies and provide insight into possible evolution of reproductive isolation mechanisms between paired lamprey species in sympatry.

    Contribution #1704
  • Ralph Grundel, David A. Beamer, Gary A. Glowacki, Krystalynn J. Frohnapple, Noel B. Pavlovic 2014 Opposing responses to ecological gradients structure amphibian and reptile communities across a temperate grassland-savanna-forest landscape. Springer . Biodiversity and Conservation

    Temperate savannas are threatened across the globe. If we prioritize savanna restoration, we should ask how savanna animal communities differ from communities in related open habitats and forests. We documented distribution of amphibian and reptile species across an open-savanna–forest gradient in the Midwest U.S. to determine how fire history and habitat structure affected herpetofaunal community composition. The transition from open habitats to forests was a transition from higher reptile abundance to higher amphibian abundance and the intermediate savanna landscape supported the most species overall. These differences warn against assuming that amphibian and reptile communities will have similar ecological responses to habitat structure. Richness and abundance also often responded in opposite directions to some habitat characteristics, such as cover of bare ground or litter. Herpetofaunal community species composition changed along a fire gradient from infrequent and recent fires to frequent but less recent fires. Nearby (200-m) wetland cover was relatively unimportant in predicting overall herpetofaunal community composition while fire history and fire-related canopy and ground cover were more important predictors of composition, diversity, and abundance. Increased developed cover was negatively related to richness and abundance. This indicates the importance of fire history and fire related landscape characteristics, and the negative effects of development, in shaping the upland herpetofaunal community along the native grassland–forest continuum.

    Contribution #1892
  • Matthew S. Kornis, Brian C. Weidel, Stephen M. Powers, Matthew W. Diebel, Timothy J. Cline, Justin M. Fox, and James F. Kitchell 2014 Fish community dynamics following dam removal in a fragmented agricultural stream. Springer . Aquatic Sciences

    Habitat fragmentation impedes dispersal of aquatic fauna, and barrier removal is increasingly used to increase stream network connectivity and facilitate fish dispersal. Improved understanding of fish community response to barrier removal is needed, especially in fragmented agricultural streams where numerous antiquated dams are likely destined for removal. We examined post-removal responses in two distinct fish communities formerly separated by a small aging mill dam. The dam was removed midway through the 6 year study, enabling passage for downstream fishes affiliated with a connected reservoir into previously inaccessible habitat, thus creating the potential for taxonomic homogenization between upstream and downstream communities. Both communities changed substantially post-removal. Two previously excluded species (white sucker, yellow perch) established substantial populations upstream of the former dam, contributing to a doubling of total fish biomass. Meanwhile, numerical density of pre-existing upstream fishes declined. Downstream, largemouth bass density was inversely correlated with prey fish density throughout the study, while post-removal declines in bluegill density coincided with cooler water temperature and increased suspended and benthic fine sediment. Upstream and downstream fish communities became more similar post-removal, represented by a shift in Bray-Curtis index from 14 to 41 % similarity. Our findings emphasize that barrier removal in highly fragmented stream networks can facilitate the unintended and possibly undesirable spread of species into headwater streams, including dispersal of species from remaining reservoirs. We suggest that knowledge of dispersal patterns for key piscivore and competitor species in both the target system and neighboring systems may help predict community outcomes following barrier removal.

    Contribution #1890
  • Lyubov E. Burlakova, Brianne L. Tulumello, Alexander Y. Karatayev, Robert A. Krebs, Donald W. Schloesser, Wendy L. Paterson, Traci A. Griffith, Mariah W. Scott, Todd Crail, and David T. Zanatta 2014 Competitive Replacement of Invasive Congeners May Relax Impact on Native Species: Interactions among Zebra, Quagga, and Native Unionid Mussels. PLoS ONE . PLoS ONE 9 (12).

    Determining when and where the ecological impacts of invasive species will be most detrimental and whether the effects of multiple invaders will be superadditive, or subadditive, is critical for developing global management priorities to protect native species in advance of future invasions. Over the past century, the decline of freshwater bivalves of the family Unionidae has been greatly accelerated by the invasion of Dreissena. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the current infestation rates of unionids by zebra (Dreissena polymorpha) and quagga (D. rostriformis bugensis) mussels in the lower Great Lakes region 25 years after they nearly extirpated native unionids. In 2011–2012, we collected infestation data for over 4000 unionids from 26 species at 198 nearshore sites in lakes Erie, Ontario, and St. Clair, the Detroit River, and inland Michigan lakes and compared those results to studies from the early 1990s. We found that the frequency of unionid infestation by Dreissena recently declined, and the number of dreissenids attached to unionids in the lower Great Lakes has fallen almost ten-fold since the early 1990s. We also found that the rate of infestation depends on the dominant Dreissena species in the lake: zebra mussels infested unionids much more often and in greater numbers. Consequently, the proportion of infested unionids, as well as the number and weight of attached dreissenids were lower in waterbodies dominated by quagga mussels. This is the first large-scale systematic study that revealed how minor differences between two taxonomically and functionally related invaders may have large consequences for native communities they invade.

    Contribution #1889
  • Brian D. Gara and Martin A. Stapanian 2014 A candidate vegetation index of biological integrity based on species dominance and habitat fidelity. Elsevier . Ecological Indicators 50 pp. 225-232.
    Indices of biological integrity of wetlands based on vascular plants (VIBIs) have been developed in many
    areas of the USA and are used in some states to make critical management decisions. An underlying
    concept of all VIBIs is that they respond negatively to disturbance. The Ohio VIBI (OVIBI) is calculated
    from 10 metrics, which are different for each wetland vegetation class. We present a candidate vegetation
    index of biotic integrity based on
    floristic quality (VIBI-FQ) that requires only two metrics to calculate an
    overall score regardless of vegetation class. These metrics focus equally on the critical ecosystem
    elements of diversity and dominance as related to a species’ degree of
    fidelity to habitat requirements.
    The indices were highly correlated but varied among vegetation classes. Both indices responded
    negatively with a published index of wetland disturbance in 261 Ohio wetlands. Unlike VIBI-FQ, however,
    errors in classifying wetland vegetation may lead to errors in calculating OVIBI scores. This is especially
    critical when assessing the ecological condition of rapidly developing ecosystems typically associated
    with wetland restoration and creation projects. Compared to OVIBI, the VIBI-FQ requires less
    field work,
    is much simpler to calculate and interpret, and can potentially be applied to all habitat types. This
    candidate index, which has been “standardized” across habitats, would make it easier to prioritize
    funding because it would score the “best” and “worst” of all habitats appropriately and allow for objective
    comparison across different vegetation classes.
    Contribution #1887
  • Bruce A. Manny, Edward F. Roseman, Gregory Kennedy, James C. Boase, Jaquelyn M. Craig, David H. Bennion, Jennifer Read, Lynn Vaccaro, Justin Chiotti, Richard Drouin, and Rosanne Ellison 2014 A scientific basis for restoring fish spawning habitat in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers of the Laurentian Great Lakes. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. . Restoration Ecology

    Loss of functional habitat in riverine systems is a global fisheries issue. Few studies, however, describe the decision-making approach taken to abate loss of fish spawning habitat. Numerous habitat restoration efforts are underway and documentation of successful restoration techniques for spawning habitat of desirable fish species in large rivers connecting the Laurentian Great Lakes are reported here. In 2003, to compensate for the loss of fish spawning habitat in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers that connect the Great Lakes Huron and Erie, an international partnership of state, federal, and academic scientists began restoring fish spawning habitat in both of these rivers. Using an adaptive management approach, we created 1,100 m2 of productive fish spawning habitat near Belle Isle in the Detroit River in 2004; 3,300 m2 of fish spawning habitat near Fighting Island in the Detroit River in 2008; and 4,000 m2 of fish spawning habitat in the Middle Channel of the St. Clair River in 2012. Here, we describe the adaptive-feedback management approach that we used to guide our decision making during all phases of spawning habitat restoration, including problem identification, team building, hypothesis development, strategy development, prioritization of physical and biological imperatives, project implementation, habitat construction, monitoring of fish use of the constructed spawning habitats, and communication of research results. Numerous scientific and economic lessons learned from 10 years of planning, building, and assessing fish use of these three fish spawning habitat restoration projects are summarized in this article.

    Contribution #1886


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