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U.S. Geological Survey - Great Lakes Science Center


  • 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
  • Charles P. Madenjian, Martin A. Stapanian, Peter A. Cott, David P. Krabbenhoft, William H. Edwards, Lynn M. Ogilvie, Justin G. Mychek-Londer, and John F. DeWild 2015 Females Exceed Males in Mercury Concentrations of Burbot Lota lota. Springer . Archives of Environmental Contamination Toxicology

    Examination of differences in contaminant concentrations between the sexes of fish, across several fish species, may show clues for important behavioral and physiological differences between the sexes. We determined whole-fish total mercury (Hg) concentrations of 25 male and 25 female adult burbot Lota lota captured in Lake Erie during summer 2011 and of 14 male and 18 female adult burbot captured in Great Slave Lake (Northwest Territories, Canada) during winter 2013. On average, females had 22 % greater Hg concentrations than males. This difference was probably not due to a greater feeding rate by females because results from previous studies based on polychlorinated biphenyl determinations of these same burbot indicated that males fed at a substantially greater rate than females. Based on our determinations of Hg concentrations in the gonads and somatic tissue of 5 ripe females and 5 ripe males, this difference was not attributable to changes in Hg concentration immediately after spawning due to the release of gametes. Furthermore, bioenergetics modeling results from previous studies indicated that growth dilution would not explain any portion of this observed difference in Hg concentrations between the sexes. We therefore conclude that this difference was most likely due to a substantially faster rate of Hg elimination by males compared with females. Male burbot exhibit among the greatest gonadosomatic indices (GSIs) of all male fishes, with their testes accounting for between 10 and 15 % of their body weight when the fish are in ripe condition. Androgens have been linked to enhanced Hg-elimination rates in other vertebrates. If androgen production is positively related to GSI, then male burbot would be expected to have among the greatest androgen levels of all fishes. Thus, we hypothesize that male burbot eliminate Hg from their bodies faster than most other male fishes and that this explains the greater Hg concentration in females compared with males.

    Contribution #1908
  • Darrin E. McCullough, Edward F. Roseman, Kevin M. Keeler, Robin L. DeBruyne, Jeremy J. Pritt, Patricia A. Thompson, Stacey Ireland, Jason E. Ross, Dustin Bowser, Robert D. Hunter, Dana Castle, Jason L. Fischer, and Stacy Provo 2015 Evidence of the St. Clair-Detroit River System as a dispersal corridor and nursery habitat for transient larval burbot. Springer . Hydrobiologia

    Burbot Lota lota are distributed across the Laurentian Great Lakes where they occupy a top piscivore role. The St. Clair-Detroit River System is known to provide a migration corridor as well as spawning and nursery habitat for many indigenous fishes of economic and ecological significance. However, knowledge is scant of the early life history of burbot and the importance of this system in their dispersal, survival, and recruitment. In order to assess the role of the St. Clair-Detroit River System to burbot ecology, we collected larval burbot during ichthyoplankton surveys in this system from 2010 to 2013 as part of a habitat restoration monitoring program. More and larger burbot larvae were found in the St. Clair River than in the lower Detroit River, although this may be due to differences in sampling methods between the two rivers. Consistent with existing studies, larval burbot exhibited ontogenesis with a distinct transition from a pelagic zooplankton-based diet to a benthic macroinvertebrate-based diet. Our results demonstrate that the St. Clair-Detroit Rivers provide food resources, required habitat, and a migration conduit between the upper and lower Great Lakes, but the contribution of these fish to the lower lakes requires further examination.

    Contribution #1905
  • 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
  • K.T. Holeck, L.G. Rudstam, J.M. Watkins, F.J. Luckey, J.R. Lantry, B.F. Lantry, E.S. Trometer, M.A. Koops, and T.B. Johnson. 2015 Lake Ontario water quality during the 2003 and 2008 intensive field years and comparison with long-term trends. Taylor & Francis . Aquatic Ecosystem Health & Management
    Phosphorus loading declined between the 1970s and the 1990s, leading to oligotrophication of the offshore waters of Lake Ontario during that time period. Using lake-wide data from the intensive field years of 2003 and 2008 and from available long–term data sets on several trophic state indicators (total phosphorus (TP), soluble reactive silica (SRSi), chlorophyll a and Secchi disc transparency (SDT)), we tested the hypothesis that oligotrophication of the offshore waters of Lake Ontario has continued in the 2000s. Significant differences between 2003 and 2008 include higher spring (April) TP, SRSi, and SDT in 2008, lower summer (July-August) SDT in 2008, higher summer chlorophyll a in 2008, and lower fall (September) TP, SRSi, and chlorophyll a in 2008. The decline in SRSi from spring to summer was greater in 2008 than in 2003. Change point and regression analyses on the long-term data revealed no trend in spring TP since 1996, in summer chlorophyll a since 1994, in spring SDT since 1998, in spring SRSi or SRSi decline from spring to summer since 1999, or in summer SDT since 2001. Neither the comparison of the 2003 and 2008 surveys nor the analysis of the long-term data supported our hypothesis of continued oligotrophication of the offshore of Lake Ontario in the 2000s.


    Contribution #1900
  • Matthew McLean, Edward F. Roseman, Jeremy J. Pritt, Gregory Kennedy, Bruce A. Manny 2015 Artificial reefs and reef restoration in the Laurentian Great Lakes. Elsevier . Journal of Great Lakes Research

    We reviewed the published literature to provide an inventory of Laurentian Great Lakes artificial reef projects and their purposes. We also sought to characterize physical and biological monitoring for artificial reef projects in the Great Lakes and determine the success of artificial reefs in meeting project objectives. We found records of 6 artificial reefs in Lake Erie, 8 in Lake Michigan, 3 in Lakes Huron and Ontario, and 2 in Lake Superior. We found 9 reefs in Great Lakes connecting channels and 6 reefs in Great Lakes tributaries. Objectives of artificial reef creation have included reducing impacts of currents and waves, providing safe harbors, improving sport-fishing opportunities, and enhancing/restoring fish spawning habitats. Most reefs in the lakes themselves were incidental (not created purposely for fish habitat) or built to improve local sport fishing, whereas reefs in tributaries and connecting channels were more frequently built to benefit fish spawning. Levels of assessment of reef performance varied; but long-term monitoring was uncommon as was assessment of physical attributes. Artificial reefs were often successful at attracting recreational species and spawning fish; however, population-level benefits of artificial reefs are unclear. Stressors such as sedimentation and bio-fouling can limit the effectiveness of artificial reefs as spawning enhancement tools. Our investigation underscores the need to develop standard protocols for monitoring the biological and physical attributes of artificial structures. Further, long-term monitoring is needed to assess the benefits of artificial reefs to fish populations and inform future artificial reef projects.

    Contribution #1899
  • Edward F. Roseman and Robin L. DeBruyne 2015 The renaissance of ecosystem integrity in North American large rivers. John Wiley & Sons . Restoration Ecology 23 (1). pp. 43-45.

    Introduction, no abstract

    Contribution #1897


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