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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
  • Patricia A. Thompson, Edward F. Roseman, Kevin M. Keeler, Timothy P. O’Brien, and Dustin A. Bowser 2017 Continued feeding on Diporeia by deepwater sculpin in Lake Huron. Springer . Environmental Biology of Fishes

    Monitoring changes in diets of fish is essential to understanding how food web dynamics respond to changes in native prey abundances. In the Great Lakes, Diporeia, a benthic macroinvertebrate and primary food of native benthivores, declined following the introduction of invasive Dreissena mussels and these changes were reflected in fish diets. We examined the diets of deepwater sculpin Myoxocephalus thompsonii collected in bottom trawls during 2010–2014 in the main basin of Lake Huron, and compared these results to an earlier diet study (2003–2005) to assess if their diets have continued to change after a prolonged period of Dreissena mussel invasion and declined Diporeia densities. Diporeia, Mysis, Bythotrephes, and Chironomidae were consumed regularly and other diet items included ostracods, copepods, sphaerid clams, and fish eggs. The prey-specific index of relative importance calculated for each prey group indicated that Mysis importance increased at shallow (≤55 m) and mid (64–73 m) depths, while Diporeia importance increased offshore (≥82 m). The average number of Diporeia consumed per fish increased by 10.0% and Mysis decreased by 7.5%, while the frequency of occurrence of Diporeia and Mysis remained comparable between time periods. The weight of adult deepwater sculpin (80 mm and 100 mm TL bins) increased between time periods; however, the change in weight was only significant for the 80 mm TL group (p < 0.01). Given the historical importance of Diporeia in the Great Lakes, the examination of deepwater sculpin diets provides unique insight into the trophic dynamics of the benthic community in Lake Huron.

    Contribution #2095
  • Chan Lan Chuna, Julie R. Peller, Dawn Shively, Muruleedhara N. Byappanahalli, Richard L. Whitman, Christopher Staley, Qian Zhang, Satoshi Ishii, and Michael J. Sadowsky 2017 Virulence and biodegradation potential of dynamic microbial communities associated with decaying Cladophora in Great Lakes. Elsevier . Science of the Total Environment 574 pp. 872-880.

    Cladophora mats that accumulate and decompose along shorelines of the Great Lakes create potential threats to the health of humans and wildlife. The decaying algae create a low oxygen and redox potential environment favoring growth and persistence of anaerobic microbial populations, including Clostridium botulinum, the causal agent of botulism in humans, birds, and other wildlife. In addition to the diverse population of microbes, a dynamic chemical environment is generated, which involves production of numerous organic and inorganic substances, many of which are believed to be toxic to the sand and aquatic biotic communities. In this study, we used 16S-rDNA-based-amplicon sequencing and microfluidic-based quantitative PCR approaches to characterize the bacterial community structure and the abundances of human pathogens associated with Cladophora at different stages (up to 90 days) of algal decay in laboratory microcosms. Oxygen levels were largely depleted after a few hours of incubation. As Cladophora decayed, the algal microbial biodiversity decreased within 24 h, and the mat transitioned from an aerobic to anaerobic environment. There were increasing abundances of enteric and pathogenic bacteria during decomposition of Cladophora, including Acinetobacter, Enterobacter, Kluyvera, Cedecea, and others. In contrast, there were no or very few sequences (< 0.07%) assigned to such groups in fresh Cladophora samples. Principal coordinate analysis indicated that the bacterial community structure was dynamic and changed significantly with decay time. Knowledge of microbial communities and chemical composition of decaying algal mats is critical to our further understanding of the role that Cladophora plays in a beach ecosystem's structure and function, including the algal role in trophic interactions. Based on these findings, public and environmental health concerns should be considered when decaying Cladophora mats accumulate Great Lakes shorelines.

    Contribution #2089
  • Rebecca L. Eberts, Björn Wissel, Gavin L. Simpson, Stephen S. Crawford, Wendylee Stott, Robert H. Hanner, Richard G. Manzon, Joanna Y. Wilson, Douglas R. Boreham, and Christopher M. Somers 2017 Isotopic structure of Lake Whitefish in Lake Huron: Evidence for regional and local populations based on resource use. Taylor & Francis . North American Journal of Fisheries Management 37 (1). pp. 133-148.

    Lake Whitefish Coregonus clupeaformis is the most commercially valuable species in Lake Huron. The fishery for this species has historically been managed based on 25 management units (17 in Canada, 8 in the USA). However, congruence between the contemporary population structure of Lake Whitefish and management units is poorly understood. We used stable isotopes of carbon (d13C) and nitrogen (d15N), food web markers that reflect patterns in resource use (i.e., prey, location, habitat), to assess the population structure of spawning-phase Lake Whitefish collected from 32 sites (1,474 fish) across Lake Huron. We found large isotopic variation among fish from different sites (ranges: d13C = 10.2‰, d15N = 5.5‰) and variable niche size and levels of overlap (standard ellipse area = 1.0–4.3‰2). Lake Huron contained spawning-phase fish from four major isotopic clusters largely defined by extensive variation in d13C, and the isotopic composition of fish sampled was spatially structured both within and between lake basins. Based on cluster compositions, we identified six putative regional groups, some of which represented sites of high diversity (three to four clusters) and others with less (one to two clusters). Analysis of isotopic values from Lake Whitefish collected from summer feeding locations and baseline prey items showed similar isotopic variation and established spatial linkage between spawning-phase and summer fish. Our results show that summer feeding location contributes strongly to the isotopic structure we observed in spawning-phase fish. One of the regional groups we identified in northern Georgian Bay is highly distinct based on isotopic composition and possibly ecologically unique within Lake Huron. Our findings are congruent with several previous studies using different markers (genetics, mark–recapture), and we conclude that current management units are generally too small and numerous to reflect the population structure of Lake Whitefish in Lake Huron.

    Contribution #2073
  • Thomas J. Stewart, Lars Rudstam, James Watkins, Timothy B. Johnson, Brian Weidel, and Marten A. Koops 2017 Research needs to better understand Lake Ontario ecosystem function: A workshop summary. Elsevier . Journal of Great Lakes Research 42 (1). pp. 1-5.

    Lake Ontario investigators discussed and interpreted published and unpublished information during two workshops to assess our current understanding of Lake Ontario ecosystem function and to identify research needs to guide future research and monitoring activities. The purpose of this commentary is to summarize key investigative themes and hypotheses that emerged from the workshops. The outcomes of the workshop discussions are organized under four themes: spatial linkages and interactions, drivers of primary production, trophic transfer, and human interactions.

    Contribution #2003
  • Randy L. Eshenroder, Paul Vecsei, Owen T. Gorman, Daniel L. Yule, Thomas C. Pratt, Nicholas E. Mandrak, David B. Bunnell, and Andrew M. Muir 2016 Ciscoes (Coregonus, Subgenus Leucichthys) of the Laurentian Great Lakes and Lake Nipigon. Great Lakes Fishery Commission .
    Contribution #2096
  • Heather A. Dawson, Gale Bravener, Joshua Beaulaurier, Nicholas S. Johnson, Michael Twohey, Robert L. McLaughlin, and Travis O. Brenden 2016 Contribution of manipulable and non-manipulable environmental factors to trapping efficiency of invasive sea lamprey. Elsevier . Journal of Great Lakes Research

    We identified aspects of the trapping process that afforded opportunities for improving trap efficiency of invasive sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) in a Great Lake's tributary. Capturing a sea lamprey requires it to encounter the trap, enter, and be retained until removed. Probabilities of these events depend on the interplay between sea lamprey behavior, environmental conditions, and trap design. We first tested how strongly seasonal patterns in daily trap catches (a measure of trapping success) were related to nightly rates of trap encounter, entry, and retention (outcomes of sea lamprey behavior). We then tested the degree to which variation in rates of trap encounter, entry, and retention were related to environmental features that control agents can manipulate (attractant pheromone addition, discharge) and features agents cannot manipulate (water temperature, season), but could be used as indicators for when to increase trapping effort. Daily trap catch was most strongly associated with rate of encounter. Relative and absolute measures of predictive strength for environmental factors that managers could potentially manipulate were low, suggesting that opportunities to improve trapping success by manipulating factors that affect rates of encounter, entry, and retention are limited. According to results at this trap, more sea lamprey would be captured by increasing trapping effort early in the season when sea lamprey encounter rates with traps are high. The approach used in this study could be applied to trapping of other invasive or valued species.

    Contribution #2092
  • Tyler J. Buchinger, Ke Li, Mar Huertas, Cindy F. Baker, Liang Jia, Michael C. Hayes, Weiming Li, and Nicholas S. Johnson 2016 Evidence for partial overlap of male olfactory cues in lampreys. The Company of Biologists Ltd . Journal of Experimental Biology

    Animals rely on a mosaic of complex information to find and evaluate mates. Pheromones, often comprised of multiple components, are considered to be particularly important for species-recognition in many species. While the evolution of species-specific pheromone blends is well-described in many insects, very few vertebrate pheromones have been studied in a macro-evolutionary context. Here, we report a phylogenetic comparison of multi-component male odours that guide reproduction in lampreys. Chemical profiling of sexually mature males from eleven species of lamprey, representing six of ten genera and two of three families, indicated the chemical profiles of sexually mature male odours are partially shared among species. Behavioural assays conducted with four species sympatric in the Laurentian Great Lakes indicated asymmetric female responses to heterospecific odours, where Petromyzon marinus were attracted to male odour collected from all species tested but other species generally preferred only the odour of conspecifics. Electro-olfactogram recordings from P. marinus indicated that although P. marinus exhibited behavioural responses to odours from males of all species, at least some of the compounds that elicited olfactory responses were different in conspecific male odours compared to heterospecific male odours. We conclude that some of the compounds released by sexually mature males are shared among species and elicit olfactory and behavioural responses in P. marinus, and suggest that our results provide evidence for partial overlap of male olfactory cues among lampreys. Further characterization of the chemical identities of odour components is needed to confirm shared pheromones among species.

    Contribution #2091
  • Todd A. Hayden, Christopher M. Holbrook, Thomas R. Binder, John M. Dettmers, Steven J. Cooke, Christopher S. Vandergoot, and Charles C. Krueger 2016 Probability of acoustic transmitter detections by receiver lines in Lake Huron: results of multi-year field tests and simulations. BioMed Central . Animal Biotelemetry 4 (19).
    Advances in acoustic telemetry technology have led to an improved understanding of the spatial ecology of many freshwater and marine fish species. Understanding the performance of acoustic receivers is necessary to distinguish between tagged fish that may have been present but not detected and from those fish that were absent from the area. In this study, two stationary acoustic transmitters were deployed 250 m apart within each of four acoustic receiver lines each containing at least 10 receivers (i.e., eight acoustic transmitters) located in Saginaw Bay and central Lake Huron for nearly 2 years to determine whether the probability of detecting an acoustic transmission varied as a function of time (i.e., season), location, and distance between acoustic transmitter and receiver. Distances between acoustic transmitters and receivers ranged from 200 m to >10 km in each line. The daily observed probability of detecting an acoustic transmission was used in simulation models to estimate the probability of detecting a moving acoustic transmitter on a line of receivers.
    The probability of detecting an acoustic transmitter on a receiver 1000 m away differed by month for different receiver lines in Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay but was similar for paired acoustic transmitters deployed 250 m apart within the same line. Mean probability of detecting an acoustic transmitter at 1000 m calculated over the study period varied among acoustic transmitters 250 m apart within a line and differed among receiver lines in Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay. The simulated probability of detecting a moving acoustic transmitter on a receiver line was characterized by short periods of time with decreased detection. Although increased receiver spacing and higher fish movement rates decreased simulated detection probability, the location of the simulated receiver line in Lake Huron had the strongest effect on simulated detection probability.
    Performance of receiver lines in Lake Huron varied across a range of spatiotemporal scales and was inconsistent among receiver lines. Our simulations indicated that if 69 kHz acoustic transmitters operating at 158 dB in 10–30 m of freshwater were being used, then receivers should be placed 1000 m apart to ensure that all fish moving at 1 m s-1 or less will be detected 90% of days over a 2-year period. Whereas these results can be used as general guidelines for designing new studies, the irregular variation in acoustic transmitter detection probabilities we observed among receiver line locations in Lake Huron makes designing receiver lines in similar systems challenging and emphasizes the need to conduct post hoc analyses of acoustic transmitter detection probabilities.
    Contribution #2090
  • Samniqueka J. Halsey, Timothy J. Bell, Kathryn McEachern, and Noel B. Pavlovic 2016 Population-specific life histories contribute to metapopulation viability. John Wiley & Sons . Ecosphere 7 (11).

    Restoration efforts can be improved by understanding how variations in life-history traits occur within populations of the same species living in different environments. This can be done by first understanding the demographic responses of natural occurring populations. Population viability analysis continues to be useful to species management and conservation with sensitivity analysis aiding in the understanding of population dynamics. In this study, using life-table response experiments and elasticity analyses, we investigated how population-specific life-history demographic responses contributed to the metapopulation viability of the Federally threatened Pitcher's thistle (Cirsium pitcheri). Specifically, we tested the following hypotheses: (1) Subpopulations occupying different environments within a metapopulation have independent demographic responses and (2) advancing succession results in a shift from a demographic response focused on growth and fecundity to one dominated by stasis. Our results showed that reintroductions had a positive contribution to the metapopulation growth rate as compared to native populations which had a negative contribution. We found no difference in succession on the contribution to metapopulation viability. In addition, we identified distinct population-specific contributions to metapopulation viability and were able to associate specific life-history demographic responses. For example, the positive impact of Miller High Dunes population on the metapopulation growth rate resulted from high growth contributions, whereas increased time of plant in stasis for the State Park Big Blowout population resulted in negative contributions. A greater understanding of how separate populations respond in their corresponding environment may ultimately lead to more effective management strategies aimed at reducing extinction risk. We propose the continued use of sensitivity analyses to evaluate population-specific demographic influences on metapopulation viability. In understanding the underlying causes of the projected extinction probabilities of each population and identifying broad-scale contributions of different populations to the metapopulation, the process of pinpointing target populations is simplified. More detailed analyses can then be applied to the target populations to increase population viability and consequently metapopulation viability. Based on our research, we suggest that the best approach to improve the overall metapopulation viability is to manage the contributions to population growth for each population separately.

    Contribution #2088


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