Spatial, seasonal, and historical variation of phytoplankton production in Lake Michigan
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Spatial, seasonal, and historical variation of phytoplankton production in Lake Michigan

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  • Journal Title:
    Journal of Great Lakes Research
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    There have been few direct measurements of phytoplankton production made in Lake Michigan since invasive dreissenid mussels became established in the lake. Here we report the results of 64 measurements of phytoplankton primary production made in Lake Michigan during 2016 and 2017. We conducted two lake-wide surveys, one in the spring 2016 isothermal period and one after summer stratification in 2017 and examined seasonal production with bi-weekly sampling between May and November 2017 at an offshore station in the southwestern part of the lake. We assessed nearshore-offshore gradients by sampling at three transect locations on three occasions in 2017. Spring 2016 production and production:biomass (P:B) ratios (reflective of growth rates) were similar across the lake and were higher than those reported before dreissenid mussels became established, suggesting that despite decreases in phytoplankton biomass, growth rates remain high. Summer 2017 production and growth rates increased from south to north. Areal production in 2017 peaked in late summer. Mean 2017 summer production (499 ± 129 mg C m−2 day−1) was lower than values reported prior to the mussel invasion, and the fraction of total production occurring in the deep chlorophyll layer was about half that measured pre-mussels. At the offshore site picoplankton accounted for almost 50 % of the chlorophyll. As spring P:B ratios have increased and summer P:B and seston carbon:phosphorus ratios have not changed, we conclude that the decrease in phytoplankton production in Lake Michigan is due primarily to grazing by mussels rather than to stronger nutrient limitation.
  • Source:
    Journal of Great Lakes Research, 49(1), 246-267
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  • ISSN:
    0380-1330
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    Accepted Manuscript
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    Submitted
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