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U.S. Geological Survey - Great Lakes Science Center


  • 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    Lake Ontario investigators discussed and interpreted published and unpublished information during two workshops to assess our current understanding of Lake Ontario ecosystem function and to identify research needs to guide future research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
  • James E. McKenna, Jr. 2016 Intra-reach Headwater Fish Assemblage Structure. Bentham Open . The Open Ecology Journal 9
    Large-scale conservation efforts can take advantage of modern large databases and regional modeling and assessment methods. However, these broad-scale efforts often assume uniform average habitat conditions and/or species assemblages within stream reaches.
    I examined fish species assemblage structure within two forested headwater stream reaches of the Great Lakes drainage to evaluate the validity of within stream uniformity.
    Sample assemblages within stream reaches were not distinct, except for where habitat changed sharply from forest to wetland.
    The results support the general assumption that fish assemblages are uniform within stream reaches, for the purposes of coarse scale analyses, but more research is needed to test the consistency of these finding across all headwater streams of a watershed or region
    Contribution #2103
  • 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
  • Louise Chavarie, Andrew M. Muir, Mara S. Zimmerman, Shauna M. Baillie, Michael J. Hansen, Nancy A. Nate, Daniel L. Yule, Trevor Middel, Paul Bentzen, and Charles C. Krueger 2016 Challenge to the model of lake charr evolution: shallow- and deep-water morphs exist within a small postglacial lake. John Wiley & Sons . Biological Journal of the Linnean Society

    All examples of lake charr (Salvelinus namaycush) diversity occur within the largest, deepest lakes of North America (i.e., > 2,000 km2).  We report here Rush Lake (1.3 km2) as the first example of a small lake with two lake charr morphs (lean and huronicus). Morphology, diet, life-history, and genetics were examined to demonstrate the existence of morphs and determine the potential influence of evolutionary processes that led to their formation or maintenance. Results showed that the huronicus morph, caught in deep water, had a deeper body, smaller head and jaws, higher eye position, greater buoyancy, and deeper peduncle than the shallow water lean morph. Huronicus grew slower to a smaller adult size, and had an older mean age than the lean morph. Genetic comparisons showed low genetic divergence between morphs, indicating incomplete reproductive isolation. Phenotypic plasticity and differences in habitat use between deep and shallow waters associated with variation in foraging opportunities seems to have been sufficient to maintain the two morphs, demonstrating their important roles in resource polymorphism. Rush Lake expands previous explanations for lake charr intraspecific diversity, from large to small lakes and from reproductive isolation to the presence of gene flow associated with strong ecological drivers.

    Contribution #2083
  • 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


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