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Associations between cyanobacteria and indices of secondary production in the western basin of Lake Erie

March 1, 2018

Large lakes provide a variety of ecological services to surrounding cities and communities. Many of these services are supported by ecological processes that are threatened by the increasing prevalence of cyanobacterial blooms which occur as aquatic ecosystems experience cultural eutrophication. Over the past 10 yr, Lake Erie experienced cyanobacterial blooms of increasing severity and frequency, which have resulted in impaired drinking water for the surrounding communities. Cyanobacterial blooms may impact ecological processes that support other services, but many of these impacts have not been documented. Secondary production (production of primary consumers) is an important process that supports economically important higher trophic levels. Cyanobacterial blooms may influence secondary production because cyanobacteria are a poor‐quality food resource and cyanotoxins may be harmful to consumers. Over 3 yr at 34 sites across the western basin of Lake Erie, we measured three indices of secondary production that focus on the dominant bivalve taxa: (1) growth of a native unionid mussel, (2) the size of young‐of‐year dreissenid mussels, and (3) the mass of colonizing animals on a Hester‐Dendy sampler. Associations between these indices and cyanobacterial data were estimated to assess whether cyanobacteria are associated with variation in secondary production in the western basin of Lake Erie. The results suggest cyanobacterial abundance alone is only weakly associated with secondary production, but that cyanotoxins have a larger effect on secondary production. Given recurring late‐summer cyanobacterial blooms, this impact on secondary production has the potential to undermine Lake Erie's ability to sustain important ecosystem services.

Publication Year 2018
Title Associations between cyanobacteria and indices of secondary production in the western basin of Lake Erie
DOI 10.1002/lno.10733
Authors James H. Larson, Mary Anne Evans, Robert J. Kennedy, Sean Bailey, Keith A. Loftin, Zachary Laughrey, Robin Femmer, Jeff Schaeffer, William B. Richardson, Timothy Wynne, J. C. Nelson, Joseph W. Duris
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Limnology and Oceanography
Index ID 70196711
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Great Lakes Science Center; Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center