• Assessment of Abundance, Biomass and Production of the Lower Trophic Levels in the Eastern Basin of Lake Erie, 1994

      Graham, D. M.; Dahl, J. A.; Millard, E. S.; Johannsson, O. E.; White, L. L. (1996-01-01)
      The Lake Erie Biomonitoring (LEB) program conducted in 1994, focused on the eastern basin of the lake, resampling the same sites as in 1993. Nutrient conditions were similar in the two years. Responses differed between the stratified offshore and unstratified nearshore. At the offshore station, seasonal phytoplankton biomass was 56% higher in 1994 than in 1993 and apparently resulted from a reduction in grazing pressure by Dreissena. Dreissena biomass and their potential clearance rates at the offshore station were much lower in the spring of 1994 than in the spring of 1993 (2.5 vs. 14.9 m3·m·2·d·'), respectively. Despite this increase in phytoplankton biomass, chlorophyll (Chi) and phytoplankton photosynthesis (PP) were not significantly higher in 1994. Dinoflagellates, which have lower Chl:C and lower photosynthesis:Chl ratios than other groups of phytoplankton, accounted for much of the increase in biomass. Rotifer biomass decreased by 50% and zooplankton biomass by 40% between the two years. Calanoids were responsible for much of the decrease in zooplankton biomass. Composition also shifted towards larger bodied cladocerans, such as Daphnia and Bythotrephes, and away from Bosmina. This shift coincided with changes in predation pressure. Age-one smelt abundance was extremely high in 1993 and low in 1994, while the reverse was true of the YOY smelt. Age-one smelt consume mainly cladocerans and the YOY, copepods (REF). At the nearshore stations, seasonal PP and Chi were well below that expected given the total phosphorus (TP) concentration, indicating that Dreissena had an important impact on phytoplankton photosynthesis in this region. Low transparency due to suspended sediments also contributed to the low PP at station El. Zooplankton biomass was lower in 1994 than in 1993, and species composition and size shifted. Daphnia increased and calanoids and Bosmina decreased in the nearshore as in the offshore, presumably in response to changes in the smelt population. However, Bythotrephes decreased and rotifer biomass increased unlike in the offshore.
    • Lake Erie 1993, Western, West Central and Eastern Basins: Change in Trophic Status, and Assessment of the Abundance, Biomass and Production of the Lower Trophic Levels

      Dahl, J. A.; Graham, D. M.; Johannsson, O. E.; Millard, E. S.; Myles, D. D. (1995-01-01)
      The western and west central basins were mesotrophic and the eastern basin was oligotrophic, based on many biological and chemical parameters measured in 1993. Gradients were observed for most parameters, with chlorophyll a, nitrogen, phosphorus, silica, and light extinction decreasing from west to east. In the western basin, phytoplankton biomass declined by 51% from 1983-85. Phytoplankton photosynthesis (g C·m-2), predicted from total phosphorus (TP) using a relationship developed in other offshore productivity studies in Lake Ontario, declined by 35% in 1993, without a corresponding decline in phosphorus (P) loading or TP. Diatoms decreased and there was a shift towards smaller phytoplankton species. These changes were attributed to zebra mussel filtration, but were not of sufficient magnitude to reduce zooplankton biomass. In the west central basin, the reductions in phytoplankton biomass were modest. Photosynthesis (g C·m-2) in 1993, was in line with that predicted by TP and the empirical relationship developed in other offshore studies. Limited mussel populations in the west central basin, resulting from low hypolimnetic oxygen concentrations, caused little change in the phytoplankton. There also were no reductions in mean biomass of zooplankton from 1984-87. In the eastern basin, phytoplankton biomass declined by 49% from 1983-85. Photosynthesis (g C·m-2) declined by 50% from the value predicted, from TP and the empirical relationship developed for other studies, for 1983-85, without a decline in P-leading. TP was lower in 1993 and was attributed to filtering by Dreissena and subsequent redirection of pelagic material to the sediments. Phytoplankton species indicative of eutrophy were reduced and there was an overall shift towards smaller species. Zooplankton biomass was also reduced. Mean zooplankton community size and the loss of Daphnia sp. suggest that predation by planktivores as well as a reduced food supply, affected zooplankton biomass in 1993. The Dreissena population also affected the benthic community structure as Diporeia were virtually eliminated from the eastern basin and Gammarus increased in all basins. Benthic biomass was 40% higher on average than in 1979. Dreissena dominated benthic production at all stations except offshore in the west-central basin.