2012 Lake Huron Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative

Retrieval of Plankton Survey SystemIn the spring of 2012, GLERL scientists initiated an intensive research effort in Lake Huron, partnering with the U.S. Geological Survey Great Lakes Science Center (USGS-GLSC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Great Lakes National Program Office, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the University of Michigan, and Environment Canada. The field campaign, entitled “2012 Lake Huron Coordinated Science and Monitoring Initiative (CSMI),” is sponsored by EPA and NOAA in part through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The research will help scientists understand the structure and function of the Lake Huron ecosystem - from bacteria to fish - and clarify the impacts of stressors such as invasive species, climate change, nutrient loading, and overfishing.

The Lake Huron field campaign will employ an impressive fleet of vessels, including GLERL’s 80-foot R/V Laurentian and 50-foot R/V Storm and two large USGS research vessels, the R/V Sturgeon and Grayling. Intensive cruises will be conducted in the waters of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary off Alpena, MI in April, July, and September 2012. Sampling will also be conducted aboard EPA and Environment Canada research vessels lake-wide across Lake Huron.

The 2012 Lake Huron CSMI will serve as the foundation for GLERL to establish a long-term ecological research program in Lake Huron. GLERL has conducted its ecological research program in southern Lake Michigan off of Muskegon, MI since the 1980s, yielding long-term data sets on nutrients, benthic (bottom-dwelling) organisms, phytoplankton (floating algae), zooplankton (microscopic animals), and fish. The Lake Michigan long-term ecological research program monitors the spread of invasive Zebra and Quagga mussels and allows scientists to study their impacts, including declines in the benthic amphipod Diporeia, which was once an important source of food for fish. Lake Huron is a similar ecosystem to Lake Michigan and is faced with many of the same stressors, but has been poorly studied in the past. The long-term ecological research program in Lake Huron will integrate long-term observations on biological, chemical, and physical variables with process-based laboratory experiments to help develop new concepts and modeling tools to explore changes in the lake.

Work on the 2012 Lake Huron CSMI is divided into five sub-projects that focus on various ecosystem characteristics: