2014 status of the Lake Ontario lower trophic levels

NYSDEC Lake Ontario Annual Report 2014-16
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  1. Soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) concentrations have been stable in nearshore and offshore habitats since 1998 (0.4 – 3.3 μg/L). SRP concentrations were low in 2014; Apr/May – Oct mean values were <1 μg/L at most sites. Spring TP concentrations at individual sites exceeded 10 μg/L on occasion, but spring means were below the 10 μg/L target set by the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1978 for offshore waters of Lake Ontario. TP concentrations were low at both nearshore and offshore locations; Apr/May – Oct mean values from individual sites ranged from 4.6 – 9.1 μg/L. Spring TP has declined significantly in the longer data series (since 1981), but not since 1995 indicating stable nutrient loading into Lake Ontario for nearly two decades. It averaged 7.8 μg/L in the nearshore and 5.6 μg/L in the offshore in 2014.
  2. Chlorophyll-a and secchi depth values are indicative of oligotrophic conditions in nearshore and offshore habitats. Offshore summer chlorophyll-a declined significantly in both the short- (2000-2014) and long-term (1981-2014) time series at a rate of 4-6% per year. Nearshore chlorophyll-a increased after 2003 but then declined again after 2009. Epilimnetic chlorophyll-a averaged between 0.6 and 1.6 μg/L across sites with no difference between nearshore and offshore habitats. Apr/May – Oct Secchi depth ranged from 4.0 m to 10.8 m at individual sites and was higher in the offshore (average 9.1 m) than nearshore (5.9 m).
  3. In 2014, Apr/May – Oct epilimnetic zooplankton density, size, and biomass were not different between the offshore and the nearshore, and there were no differences in epilimnetic biomass between offshore and nearshore areas for any of the zooplankton groups.
  4. Zooplankton density and biomass peaked in September, an atypical pattern. This coincided with peaks in calanoid copepod, daphnid, and Holopedium biomass. Holopedium biomass in the nearshore increased significantly since 1995.
  5. The predatory cladoceran Cercopagis continued to be abundant in the summer, peaking at ~10 mg/m3in the offshore. Bythotrephes biomass was at its lowest level since 2005 in both offshore and nearshore habitats.
  6. Summer nearshore zooplankton density and biomass have declined significantly since 1995 at rates of 9-10% per year but have remained stable since 2005. However, bosminids and daphnids increased in 2013 and 2014.
  7. Summer offshore zooplankton density and biomass declined significantly in the long-term (since 1981), but remained at a lower stable level 2000 – 2014. A positive change point in 2013 is due to increases in bosminids, cyclopoid copepods, and daphnids.
  8. The observed decline in zooplankton biomass may be due in part to redistribution of zooplankton throughout the water column. Most of the zooplankton biomass was in the metalimnion and hypolimnion during the stratified period in 2014. By October, the bulk of the biomass was in the epilimnion.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype State or Local Government Series
Title 2014 status of the Lake Ontario lower trophic levels
Series title NYSDEC Lake Ontario Annual Report
Series number 2014
Chapter 16
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Publisher location Albany, NY
Contributing office(s) Great Lakes Science Center
Description 28 p.
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype State or Local Government Series
Larger Work Title 2014 Annual report: Bureau of Fisheries, Lake Ontario unit and St. Lawrence River unit, to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission’s Lake Ontario Committee
First page 16-1
Last page 16-28
Conference Title Lake Ontario Committee Meeting
Conference Location Ypsilanti, MI
Conference Date March 24-25, 2015
Country Canada, United States
Other Geospatial Lake Ontario
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