Additional Winter Ecosystems Monitoring

Data collections during the winter months are difficult from research vessels and can be unsafe due to lake ice, icing on vessels, and severe storms. Add to this that winter conditions are highly variable from year to year where total maximum ice cover may vary from 12 to 95% and the duration of ice cover may vary from 24-148 days. The absence of winter information thus compromises our overall understanding of the Great Lakes ecosystem, and our ability to develop and calibrate ecological and food web models to forecast change, or the ecosystem’s response to system drivers (e.g., invasive species, timing of nutrient inputs, annual environmental variability).

In the offshore waters of Lake Erie in the winter season (Jan-March), the focus will be on inventorying nutrients, measuring phytoplankton biomass and the spatial extent of the winter diatom bloom, assessing the role of the winter bloom in the formation of central basin hypoxia, and surveying seed banks of the winter diatoms to predict areas of bloom recruitment. 

In Lake Michigan sampling will occur along the above LTR transect 1-2 times during the winter to collect lower food web information on nutrients, phytoplankton, zooplankton, and Mysis to provide a more complete understanding of the annual cycles in the lake and of factors that are controlling recruitment of important species within the lake.The results from Lake Michigan analyses will be used to update management groups such as the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Lake Michigan Committee and Lake Michigan Technical Committee as they develop sustainable fishery objectives and strategies. 

FY2023: $161,593

FY2022: $173,000