USGS - science for a changing world

U.S. Geological Survey - Great Lakes Science Center


  • Martin A. Stapanian, Karen Rodriguez, Timothy E. Lewis, Louis Blume, Craig J. Palmer, Lynn Walters, Judith Schofield, Molly M. Amos, and Adam Bucher 2028 Announcement-guidance document for acquiring reliable data in ecological restoration projects. John Wiley & Sons . Restoration Ecology 24 (5). pp. 570-572.

    The Laurentian Great Lakes are undergoing intensive ecological restoration in Canada and the United States. In the United States, an interagency committee was formed to facilitate implementation of quality practices for federally funded restoration projects in the Great Lakes basin. The Committee's responsibilities include developing a guidance document that will provide a common approach to the application of quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) practices for restoration projects. The document will serve as a “how-to” guide for ensuring data quality during each aspect of ecological restoration projects. In addition, the document will provide suggestions on linking QA/QC data with the routine project data and hints on creating detailed supporting documentation. Finally, the document will advocate integrating all components of the project, including QA/QC applications, into an overarching decision-support framework. The guidance document is expected to be released by the U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office in 2017.

    Contribution #2028
  • Patrick T. Kelly, Nicola Craig, Christopher T. Solomon, Brian C. Weidel, Jacob A. Zwart, and Stuart E. Jones 2016 Experimental whole-lake increase of dissolved organic carbon concentration produces unexpected increase in crustacean zooplankton density. John Wiley & Sons . Global Change Biology 22 (8). pp. 2766-2775.

    The observed pattern of lake browning, or increased terrestrial dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentration, across the northern hemisphere has amplified the importance of understanding how consumer productivity varies with DOC concentration. Results from comparative studies suggest these increased DOC concentrations may reduce crustacean zooplankton productivity due to reductions in resource quality and volume of suitable habitat. Although these spatial comparisons provide an expectation for the response of zooplankton productivity as DOC concentration increases, we still have an incomplete understanding of how zooplankton respond to temporal increases in DOC concentration within a single system. As such, we used a whole-lake manipulation, in which DOC concentration was increased from 8 to 11 mg L-1 in one basin of a manipulated lake, to test the hypothesis that crustacean zooplankton production should subsequently decrease. In contrast to the spatially derived expectation of sharp DOC-mediated decline, we observed a small increase in zooplankton densities in response to our experimental increase in DOC concentration of the treatment basin. This was due to significant increases in gross primary production and resource quality (lower seston carbon-to-phosphorus ratio; C:P). These results demonstrate that temporal changes in lake characteristics due to increased DOC may impact zooplankton in ways that differ from those observed in spatial surveys. We also identified significant interannual variability across our study region, which highlights potential difficulty in detecting temporal responses of organism abundances to gradual environmental change (e.g., browning).

    Contribution #2082
  • James H. Johnson, Marc A. Chalupnicki, and Ross Abbett 2016 Feeding periodicity, diet composition, and food consumption of subyearling rainbow trout in winter. Springer . Environmental Biology of Fishes

    Although winter is a critically important period for stream salmonids, aspects of the ecology of several species are poorly understood. Consequently, we examined the diel feeding ecology of subyearling rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) during winter in a central New York stream. Rainbow trout diet was significantly different during each 4-h interval and also differed from the drift and benthos. Feeding was significantly greater during darkness (i.e. 20:00 h – 04:00 h) than during daylight hours (i.e. 08:00 h – 16:00 h), peaking at 20:00 h. Daily food consumption (1.9 mg) and daily ration (3.4 %) during winter were substantially lower than previously reported for subyearling rainbow trout in the same stream during summer. These findings provide important new insights into the winter feeding ecology of juvenile rainbow trout in streams.

    Contribution #2077
  • Kurt P. Kowalski 2016 Collaborations, research, and adaptive management to address nonnative Phragmites australis in the Great Lakes Basin. U.S. Geological Survey . U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2016-3031

    Phragmites australis, also known as common reed, is a native North American wetland grass that has grown in North America for thousands of years. More recently, a nonnative, invasive variety of Phragmites from Eurasia is rapidly invading wetlands across the continental United States and other parts of North America, where it negatively impacts humans and the environment. U.S. Geological Survey scientists, funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, are leading innovative efforts to improve management of nonnative Phragmites in the Great Lakes Basin.

    Contribution #2075
  • Marcos Antonio Soares, Hai-Yan Li, Kurt P. Kowalski, Marshall Bergen, Monica S. Torres, and James Francis White 2016 Evaluation of the functional roles of fungal endophytes of Phragmites australis from high saline and low saline habitats. Springer . Springer . Biological Invasions 18 (9). pp. 2689-2702.

    Non-native Phragmites australis decreases biodiversity and produces dense stands in North America. We surveyed the endophyte communities in the stems, leaves and roots of collections of P. australis obtained from two sites with a low and high salt concentration to determine differences in endophyte composition and assess differences in functional roles of microbes in plants from both sites. We found differences in the abundance, richness and diversity of endophytes between the low saline collections (18 species distributed in phyla Ascomycota, Basidiomycota and Stramenopiles (Oomycota); from orders Dothideales, Pleosporales, Hypocreales, Eurotiales, Cantharellales and Pythiales; Shannon H = 2.639; Fisher alpha = 7.335) and high saline collections (15 species from phylum Ascomycota; belonging to orders Pleosporales, Hypocreales, Diaporthales, Xylariales and Dothideales; Shannon H = 2.289; Fisher alpha = 4.181). Peyronellaea glomerata, Phoma macrostoma and Alternaria tenuissima were species obtained from both sites. The high salt endophyte community showed higher resistance to zinc, mercury and salt stress compared to fungal species from the low salt site. These endophytes also showed a greater propensity for growth promotion of rice seedlings (a model species) under salt stress. The results of this study are consistent with the ‘habitat-adapted symbiosis hypothesis’ that holds that endophytic microbes may help plants adapt to extreme habitats. The capacity of P. australis to establish symbiotic relationships with diverse endophytic microbes that enhance its tolerance to abiotic stresses could be a factor that contributes to its invasiveness in saline environments. Targeting the symbiotic associates of P. australis could lead to more sustainable control of non-native P. australis.

    Contribution #2074
  • Jessica J. Hellmann, Ralph Grundel, Chris Hoving, and Gregor W. Schuurman 2016 A call to insect scientists: challenges and opportunities of managing insect communities under climate change. Elsevier . Current Opinion in Insect Science

    As climate change moves insect systems into uncharted territory, more knowledge about insect dynamics and the factors that drive them could enable us to better manage and conserve insect communities. Climate change may also require us revisit insect management goals and strategies and lead to a new kind of scientific engagement in management decision-making. Here we make five key points about the role of insect science in aiding and crafting management decisions, and we illustrate those points with the monarch butterfly and the Karner blue butterfly, two species undergoing considerable change and facing new management dilemmas. Insect biology has a strong history of engagement in applied problems, and as the impacts of climate change increase, a reimagined ethic of entomology in service of broader society may emerge. We hope to motivate insect biologists to contribute time and effort toward solving the challenges of climate change.

    Contribution #2072
  • Taaja R. Tucker, Patrick L. Hudson, and Stephen C. Riley 2016 Observations of cocooned Hydrobaenus (Diptera: Chironomidae) larvae in Lake Michigan. Elsevier . Journal of Great Lakes Research

    Larvae of the family Chironomidae have developed a variety of ways to tolerate environmental stress, including the formation of cocoons, which allows larvae to avoid unfavorable temperature conditions, drought, or competition with other chironomids. Summer cocoon formation by younger instars of the genus Hydrobaenus Fries allows persistence through increased temperatures and/or intermittent dry periods in arid regions or temporary habitats, but this behavior was not observed in the Great Lakes until the current study. Cocoon-aestivating Hydrobaenus sp. larvae were found in benthic grab samples collected in 2010–2013 near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in northern Lake Michigan with densities up to 7329/m2. The aestivating species was identified as Hydrobaenus johannseni (Sublette, 1967), and the associated chironomid community was typical for an oligotrophic nearshore system. Hydrobaenus cocoon formation in the Great Lakes was likely previously unnoticed due to the discrepancies between the genus' life history and typical benthos sampling procedures which has consequences for describing chironomid communities where Hydrobaenus is present.

    Contribution #2071
  • David B. Bunnell, Tomas O. Höök, Cary D. Troy, Wentao Liu, Charles P. Madenjian, and Jean V. Adams 2016 Testing for synchrony in recruitment among four Lake Michigan fish species. NRC Research Press . Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences

    In the Great Lakes region, multiple fish species display intra-specific spatial synchrony in recruitment success, with inter-annual climate variation hypothesized as the most likely driver. In Lake Michigan, we evaluated whether climatic or other physical variables could also induce spatial synchrony across multiple species, including bloater (Coregonus hoyi), rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax), yellow perch (Perca flavescens), and alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus). The residuals from stock-recruitment relationships revealed yellow perch recruitment to be correlated with recruitment of both rainbow smelt (r = 0.37) and alewife (r = 0.36). Across all four species, higher than expected recruitment occurred in 5 years between 1978 and 1987 and then switched to lower than expected recruitment in 5 years between 1996 and 2004. Generalized additive models revealed warmer spring and summer water temperatures and lower wind speeds corresponded to higher than expected recruitment for the nearshore-spawning species, and overall variance explained ranged from 14% (yellow perch) to 61% (alewife). For all species but rainbow smelt, higher recruitment also occurred in extremely high or low years of the North Atlantic Oscillation index.

    Contribution #2070
  • Carson G. Prichard, Edward F. Roseman, Kevin M. Keeler, Timothy P. O'Brien, and Stephen C. Riley 2016 Large-Scale Changes in Bloater Growth and Condition in Lake Huron. Taylor & Francis . Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 145 (6). pp. 1241-1251.
    Native Bloaters Coregonus hoyi have exhibited multiple strong year-classes since 2005 and now are the most abundant benthopelagic offshore prey fish in Lake Huron, following the crash of nonnative Alewives Alosa pseudoharengus and substantial declines in nonnative Rainbow Smelt Osmerus mordax. Despite recent recoveries in Bloater abundance, marketable-size (>229 mm) Bloaters remain scarce. We used annual survey data to assess temporal and spatial dynamics of Bloater body condition and lengths at age in the main basin of Lake Huron from 1973 to 2014. Basinwide lengths at age were modeled by cohort for the 1973–2003 year-classes using a von Bertalanffy growth model with time-varying Brody growth coefficient (k) and asymptotic length (

    ) parameters. Median Bloater weights at selected lengths were estimated to assess changes in condition by modeling weight–length relations with an allometric growth model that allowed growth parameters to vary spatially and temporally. Estimated Bloater lengths at age declined 14–24% among ages 4–8 for all year-classes between 1973 and 2004. Estimates of  declined from a peak of 394 mm (1973 year-class) to a minimum of 238 mm (1998 year-class). Observed mean lengths at age in 2014 were at all-time lows, suggesting that year-classes comprising the current Bloater population would have to follow growth trajectories unlike those characterizing the 1973–2003 year-classes to attain marketable size. Furthermore, estimated weights of 250-mm Bloaters (i.e., a large, commercially valuable size-class) declined 17% among all regions from 1976 to 2007. Decreases in body condition of large Bloaters are associated with lower lipid content and may be linked to marked declines in abundance of the amphipods Diporeia spp. in Lake Huron. We hypothesize that since at least 1976, large Bloaters have become more negatively buoyant and may have incurred an increasingly greater metabolic cost performing diel vertical migrations to prey upon the opossum shrimp Mysis diluviana and zooplankton. 


    Contribution #2068
  • Roger A. Bergstedt, Ray L. Argyle, William W. Taylor, and Charles C. Krueger 2016 Seasonal and Diel Bathythermal Distributions of Lake Whitefish in Lake Huron: Potential Implications for Lake Trout Bycatch in Commercial Fisheries. Taylor & Francis . North American Journal of Fisheries Management 36 (4). pp. 705-719.

    Depths and temperatures recorded during 2003–2005 by archival tags implanted in Lake Whitefish Coregonus clupeaformis and in Great Lakes origin (GLO) and New York Finger Lakes origin (FLO) strains of Lake Trout Salvelinus namaycush were used to compare seasonal diel depth and temperature distributions in Lake Huron. Seasonal depth distributions were examined to determine if species differences could be exploited to reduce bycatch of Lake Trout in commercial Lake Whitefish gill-net fisheries. Both GLO and FLO Lake Trout used deeper and colder waters than Lake Whitefish during daylight and dark. Temperature differences between species were greatest during periods of stratification when behavioral thermoregulation was possible. Other than during spawning periods, the greatest depth and temperature separation occurred in late July between FLO Lake Trout (37.0 m; 6.5 ºC) and Lake Whitefish (25.1 m; 10.2 ºC). If maximum depths of gill nets were regulated seasonally to between 25 and 35 m, = 50% of the Lake Whitefish population would be vulnerable while avoiding 89% or more of Lake Trout. Lake Trout percentages targeted under such regulations would be lowest in late July (GLO = 8% and FLO = 11%) and early August (GLO = 4% and FLO = 7%). However, archival tags measure fish depth and not location or bottom depth, and modal depths of gill-net effort for Lake Whitefish (38 to 57 m) exceeded those from the Lake Whitefish archival tag data. This discrepancy suggests that many Lake Whitefish might be pelagic above the reach of bottom-set gill nets, so depth restrictions could be less effective in reducing Lake Trout bycatch than suggested by our data. A further implication is that use of gill nets suspended above the bottom to target pelagic Lake Whitefish could also reduce bycatch while potentially increasing Lake Whitefish harvest.

    Contribution #2065


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