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A cross-lake comparison of crustacean zooplankton communities in the Laurentian Great Lakes, 1997-2016

journal contribution
posted on 19.08.2019, 00:00 by Richard P. Barbiero, Lars G. Rudstam, James M. Watkins, Barry Lesht
Spring and summer open-water crustacean zooplankton communities were examined across all five Laurentian Great Lakes from 1997 to 2016. Spring communities were dominated by calanoid (lakes Superior, Huron and Michigan) or cyclopoid (lakes Erie and Ontario) copepods. Volumetric biomass of summer communities increased along an assumed trophic gradient (Superior, Huron, Michigan, Ontario; eastern, central and western Erie), as did dominance by cyclopoids and cladocerans. Over the time series of the study, summer communities in lakes Michigan, Huron and Ontario shifted towards greater dominance by calanoids and greater similarity with Lake Superior. Trajectories of changes were different; however, reductions in cladocerans accounted for most of the change in lakes Michigan and Huron while reductions in cyclopoids and increases in Leptodiaptomus sicilis were behind the changes in Lake Ontario. Shifts in the predatory cladoceran community in Lake Ontario from Cercopagis pengoi to occasional dominance by Bythotrephes longimanus, a species much more vulnerable to planktivory, as well as the appearance of Daphnia mendotae in a daphnid community previously consisting almost exclusively of the smaller Daphnia retrocurva, suggest impacts of reduced vertebrate predation. In contrast, strong correlations between cladocerans and chlorophyll in lakes Michigan and Huron point to the possible importance of bottom-up forces in those lakes. Large interannual shifts in cladoceran community structure in the central and eastern basins of Lake Erie suggest intense but variable vertebrate predation pressure. The zooplankton communities of lakes Huron, Michigan and Ontario may be approaching a historic community structure represented by Lake Superior.


This work was supported by the USEPA Great Lakes National Program Office as part of EPA Contract No. EP-C-15-012, Scientific and Technical Support with GDIT under the direction of Louis Blume, Project Manager, as well as by an agreement with Cornell University, Department of Natural Resource under Prime Agreement Award GL-00E01184 from the U.S. EPA “Great Lakes Long Term Biological Monitoring of Zooplankton, Benthos, and Chlorophyll a”.



Barbiero, R. P., Rudstam, L. G., Watkins, J. M., & Lesht, B. M. (2019). A cross-lake comparison of crustacean zooplankton communities in the Laurentian Great Lakes, 1997–2016. Journal of Great Lakes Research. doi:10.1016/j.jglr.2019.03.012







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