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Convergence of trophic state and the lower food web in Lakes Huron, Michigan and Superior

Barbiero, Richard P., Lesht, Barry M., Warren, Glenn J.
Journal of Great Lakes research 2012 v.38 no.2 pp. 368-380
Crustacea, autumn, benthic organisms, chlorophyll, food webs, lakes, oligotrophication, phosphorus, remote sensing, silica, spring, zooplankton, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Michigan
Signs of increasing oligotrophication have been apparent in the open waters of both Lake Huron and Lake Michigan in recent years. Spring total phosphorus (TP) and the relative percentage of particulate phosphorus have declined in both lakes; spring TP concentrations in Lake Huron are now slightly lower than those in Lake Superior, while those in Lake Michigan are higher by only about 1μg P/L. Furthermore, spring soluble silica concentrations have increased significantly in both lakes, consistent with decreases in productivity. Transparencies in Lakes Huron and Michigan have increased, and in most regions are currently roughly equivalent to those seen in Lake Superior. Seasonality of chlorophyll, as estimated by SeaWiFS satellite imagery, has been dramatically reduced in Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, with the spring bloom largely absent from both lakes and instead a seasonal maximum occurring in autumn, as is the case in Lake Superior. As of 2006, the loss of cladocerans and the increased importance of calanoids, in particular Limnocalanus, have resulted in crustacean zooplankton communities in Lake Huron and Lake Michigan closely resembling that in Lake Superior in size and structure. Decreases in Diporeia in offshore waters have resulted in abundances of non-dreissenid benthos communities in these lakes that approach those of Lake Superior. These changes have resulted in a distinct convergence of the trophic state and lower food web in the three lakes, with Lake Huron more oligotrophic than Lake Superior by some measures.