An evaluation of the zooplankton community at the Sheboygan River Area of Concern and non-Area of Concern comparison sites in western Lake Michigan rivers and harbors in 2016

Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5131
Prepared in cooperation with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
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Abstract

The Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOCs) are considered to be the most severely degraded areas within the Great Lakes basin, as defined in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and amendments. Among the 43 designated AOCs are four Lake Michigan AOCs in the State of Wisconsin. The smallest of these AOCs is the Sheboygan River AOC, which was designated as an AOC because of sediment contamination from polychlorinated biphenyl compounds (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and heavy metals. The Sheboygan River AOC has 9 of 14 possible Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs), which must be addressed to improve overall water-quality, and to ultimately delist the AOC. One of the BUIs associated with this AOC is the “degradation of phytoplankton and zooplankton populations,” which can be removed from the list of impairments when it has been determined that zooplankton community composition and structure at the AOC do not differ significantly from communities at non-AOC comparison sites. In 2012 and 2014, the U.S. Geological Survey collected plankton (phytoplankton and zooplankton) community samples at the Sheboygan River AOC and selected non-AOC sites as part of a larger Great Lakes Restoration Initiative study evaluating both the benthos and plankton communities in all four of Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan AOCs. Although neither richness nor diversity of phytoplankton or zooplankton in the Sheboygan River AOC were found to differ significantly from the non-AOC sites in 2012, results from the 2014 data indicated that zooplankton diversity was significantly lower, and so rated as degraded, when compared to the Manitowoc and Kewaunee Rivers, two non-AOC sites of similar size, land use, and close geographic proximity.

As a follow-up to the 2014 results, zooplankton samples were collected at the same locations in the AOC and non-AOC sites during three sampling trips in spring, summer, and fall 2016. An analysis of similarity indicated no significant difference between the zooplankton community composition and structure in the AOC and non-AOC sites. Zooplankton taxa richness in the AOC was rated as “not degraded” in 2016 because of significantly higher taxa richness values in samples collected from the Sheboygan River AOC, compared with the non-AOC sites as a group (that is, data pooled from both non-AOC sites). Zooplankton diversity in 2016, however, was characterized as “degraded” in the AOC on the basis of significantly lower (p<0.05) values in samples collected from the AOC compared with those collected from the non-AOC sites as a group. Annual variation in zooplankton community composition and structure at the Sheboygan River AOC was significantly different among all 3 years sampled, as indicated by an analysis of similarity test. Zooplankton richness was significantly higher in 2014 than in both 2012 and 2016, and diversity was significantly higher in 2012 than in both 2014 and 2016. Postremediation recovery can often be complicated by non-AOC-related stressors such as nutrients, invasive species, and extremes in flow, which could affect the recovery of zooplankton communities in the Sheboygan River AOC. The effect of the stressors on postremediation recovery underscores the importance of sampling multiple years when assessing the effectiveness of remediation activities. The results from this study will be used by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to determine if restoration efforts have been effective in removing the plankton BUI and to monitor future conditions in the AOC.

Suggested Citation

Olds, H.T., Scudder Eikenberry, B.C., Burns, D.J., and Bell, A.H., 2017, An evaluation of the zooplankton community at the Sheboygan River Area of Concern and non-Area of Concern comparison sites in western Lake Michigan rivers and harbors in 2016: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5131, 15 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20175131.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Description of Study Area
  • Methods
  • Physical and Chemical Comparisons Between the Sheboygan River AOC and non-AOC Sites
  • Zooplankton Community Comparisons Between the Sheboygan River AOC and Selected non-AOC Sites
  • Summary and Conclusions
  • References Cited

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title An evaluation of the zooplankton community at the Sheboygan River Area of Concern and non-Area of Concern comparison sites in western Lake Michigan rivers and harbors in 2016
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2017-5131
DOI 10.3133/sir20175131
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Wisconsin Water Science Center
Description Report: vii, 15 p.; Data Release
Country United States
State Wisconsin
Other Geospatial Lake Michigan
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N