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Complex interactions in Lake Michigan's rapidly changing ecosystem
  • Published Date:
    2015
  • Source:
    Journal of Great Lakes Research, 41 (S3), 1-6.


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  • Description:
    Over the past 30 years, Lake Michigan's food web has been in a constant state of transition (Vanderploeg et al., 2002, 2012; Madenjian et al., 2002; in this issue), and it is likely that this emerging system has not yet reached a steady state. The proliferation of invasive species at multiple trophic levels (zooplankton, mussels, fish), coupled with the success of a nutrient abatement program that has delivered long-term reductions in nutrient inputs, have together contributed to a series of systemic changes to the Lake Michigan ecosystem (e.g., novel trophic interactions, reengineered nutrient cycling, altered physical habitat, shift from pelagic productivity to enhanced benthic production, and nuisance algal blooms nearshore). Our current understanding and potential future forecasting of ecosystem-wide consequences of such transitions are dependent on describing and understanding changes in the food web in time and space (i.e., horizontal and vertical), variation of key food web components and linkages with physical habitat, and nutrient cycling. Given that other Laurentian Great Lakes share key members of the Lake Michigan food web as well as changing nutrient and climate dynamics, understanding gleaned from this special issue is highly relevant across the basin, especially in Lakes Huron and Ontario.

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