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Lake Michigan offshore ecosystem structure and food web changes from 1987 to 2008

November 4, 2014

Ecosystems undergo dynamic changes owing to species invasions, fisheries management decisions, landscape modifications, and nutrient inputs. At Lake Michigan, new invaders (e.g., dreissenid mussels (Dreissena spp.), spiny water flea (Bythotrephes longimanus), round goby (Neogobius melanostomus)) have proliferated and altered energy transfer pathways, while nutrient concentrations and stocking rates to support fisheries have changed. We developed an ecosystem model to describe food web structure in 1987 and ran simulations through 2008 to evaluate changes in biomass of functional groups, predator consumption, and effects of recently invading species. Keystone functional groups from 1987 were identified as Mysis, burbot (Lota lota), phytoplankton, alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus), nonpredatory cladocerans, and Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). Simulations predicted biomass reductions across all trophic levels and predicted biomasses fit observed trends for most functional groups. The effects of invasive species (e.g., dreissenid grazing) increased across simulation years, but were difficult to disentangle from other changes (e.g., declining offshore nutrient concentrations). In total, our model effectively represented recent changes to the Lake Michigan ecosystem and provides an ecosystem-based tool for exploring future resource management scenarios.

Publication Year 2014
Title Lake Michigan offshore ecosystem structure and food web changes from 1987 to 2008
Authors Mark W. Rogers, David B. Bunnell, Charles P. Madenjian, David M. Warner
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Index ID 70131499
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Great Lakes Science Center