Describing the distribution and productivity of biota along a nearshore to offshore gradient

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The Lake Michigan Lakewide Action and Management Plan (LAMP) proposed adding nutrients (phosphorus) to its “pollutant of concern” list in 2002, given that excessive nutrients were causing impairments in nearshore waters. Since that time, scientists have highlighted the “shunting” of nutrients to the nearshore (Hecky et al. 2004), owing to the ability of invasive dreissenid mussels to capture some portion of allochthonous phosphorus that enters the lake through tributaries. These changes are believed to increase productivity in the nearshore, reflected in increased benthic and pelagic primary production and nuisance Cladophora (Auer et al. 2010). Whether increases in primary productivity lead to concomitant increases for secondary (by zooplankton) and tertiary (by fish) production remains largely untested. Hence, understanding the distribution and abundance of nutrients and biota (e.g., zooplankton, fish) across a nearshore to offshore gradient was identified as a Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative (CSMI) priority in 2015. Increased understanding of the Lake Michigan nearshore will also facilitate the development of a Nearshore Strategy by the LAMP, which is called for in the 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.

Working collaboratively with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), United States Geological Survey (USGS) described the distribution of nutrients and biota across nearshore to offshore transects in 2015 (see Appendix 1). At each transect, we sampled the food web at three sites with differing bottom depths: 18 m, 46 m, and 91-110 m. We purposefully chose transects near tributaries of varying total phosphorus (TP) input (see Figure 1, Dolan and Chapra 2012): three transects that were not associated with any large tributary where total phosphorus would be loaded (Waukegan IL, Frankfort MI, Sturgeon Bay WI), three transects adjacent to tributaries presumed to be relatively low loaders of TP (Pere Marquette MI, Root WI, Muskegon MI), and three transects adjacent to tributaries presumed to be relatively high loaders of TP (St. Joseph MI, Kalamazoo MI, Manitowoc WI). USGS estimated chlorophyll concentrations, zooplankton, Mysis, larval fish, and juvenile and adult fish seasonally (April/May, July, October/November) at eight of these transects (all but Muskegon). 

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Other Report
Title Describing the distribution and productivity of biota along a nearshore to offshore gradient
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant
Contributing office(s) Great Lakes Science Center
Description 15 p.
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype Other Report
Larger Work Title Cooperative science and monitoring initiative (CSMI) Lake Michigan 2015 report
First page 1
Last page 15
Country United States
State Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin
Other Geospatial Lake Michigan
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