The Great Lakes have seen successive invasions by non-native species that alter the ecosystem, including quagga mussels that filter the water and remove nutrients. At least partly as a result of the invasive mussels, Lake Michigan is becoming less hospitable to Chinook salmon, according to a new study led by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey and Michigan State University.
The scientists concluded that stocking could help sustain a population of Chinook salmon, but that the lake’s ecosystem is now more conducive to stocking lake trout and steelhead salmon. These two species can switch from eating alewife, which are in decline, to bottom-dwelling round goby, another newly established invasive prey fish that feeds on quagga mussels. Continue reading “Invasive species shift Great Lakes ecosystems”→
New website highlights the widespread problem of plastic debris
Microplastic pollution is widespread in many rivers flowing into the Great Lakes, according to U.S. Geological Survey scientists who recently took water samples from 29 Great Lakes tributaries in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and New York. The researchers found microplastics in all those streams, which together make up about 22 percent of the water flowing into the Great Lakes.
FRISCO — Microplastic pollution is showing up in alarming quantities in the Great Lakes, with concentrations in Lake Erie as high as in some of the well-documents ocean garbage patches, according to scientists, who say more research is needed to help craft rules that could address the problem.
Based on a new report from Canadian researchers, a member of Canada’s parliament is calling on the government to list microbeads as a potential toxic substance. The tiny plastic flakes are used in cosmetics, but act like sponges for certain pollutants and are easily ingested by aquatic organisms, including fish and shellfish. Continue reading “Microplastic pollution a growing Great Lakes concern”→
Climate change stresses likely to cut agricultural output from the nation’s breadbasket
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The Midwest could be among the regions hit hardest by climate change, according to a trio of University of Michigan researchers who authored sections of the recent national climate assessment.
The region is likely to face frequent and more intense heat waves, water quality degradation and public health threats, with increasing risks to Great Lakes ecosystems.
“Climate change impacts in the Midwest are expected to be as diverse as the landscape itself. Impacts are already being felt in the forests, in agriculture, in the Great Lakes and in our urban centers,” said University of Michigan aquatic ecologist Donald Scavia, director of the Graham Sustainability Institute and special counsel to the U-M president on sustainability issues.
“With 2010 the wettest year on record and third warmest for sea surface temperatures, NOAA and our partners are working to uncover how a changing climate can affect our health and our prosperity,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “These studies and others like it will better equip officials with the necessary information and tools they need to prepare for and prevent risks associated with changing oceans and coasts.”
Studies to focus on global warming impacts to rivers and coastal ecosystems
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Designation of 17,000 acres of freshwater marshes, uplands and river on the shores of Lake Superior in Wisconsin as a National Estuarine Research Reserve will give scientists a chance to study how climate change will affect freshwater estuaries, and how they are affected by pollution.