US Long-Term Ecological Research Network

Temporal and Spatial Variability of Algal Distributions in Lake Mendota

Lake Mendota, a large eutrophic lake, has experienced harmful algal blooms for well over a century.  These harmful algal blooms have a dramatic impact on lake aesthetics and cause a serious human health concern.  Spatial and temporal variability have been observed during the open water season, but due to time and method constraints, spatial sampling has been limited.

Aquatic Invasive Species in the NHLD

An important aspect of aquatic invasive species (AIS) management is the role humans play in their dispersal. For the spread of AIS among inland lakes, the typical pathway for dispersal is boaters moving from lake to lake. We aim to develop a spatial dynamic model of species invasions within a freshwater lake system in which a set of managing agents is concerned with the inter-seasonal spread of invasive species across lakes (where a season is defined in this case as the annual boating season), and recreational boaters/anglers make a series of intra-seasonal trip decisions to maximize random utility during the course of the season, subject to the actions taken by the manager.

Population Dynamics of the Invasive Spiny Water Flea

The spiny water flea, an invasive species of the Great Lakes and surrounding inland lakes, was discovered in Lake Mendota in September of 2009.  Since it’s invasion into the Madison lakes, the spiny water flea population has reached some of the highest densities recorded in any of its known invaded or native ranges.  The preferred meal of the spiny water flea is a small aquatic crustacean, Daphnia.  The Daphnia of Lake Mendota are essential in maintaining clear, algae free water through grazing (like miniature lake cattle). Through predation, the spiny water flea may decrease the Lake Mendota Daphnia population abundance, which in turn may allow algae to grow unchecked. My goal is to figure out if this is happening in Lake Mendota while also looking at the broader impact of the spiny water flea on other zooplankton (small aquatic crustaceans like Daphnia) and fish communities.

Predicting Harmful Algal Blooms in Lake Mendota

We’re researching algae dynamics in Lake Mendota in attempt to explain and predict harmful algal blooms and scums that form in eutrophic lakes. The current emphasis is on characterizing and understanding how spatial differences in algal growth and aggregation are affected by physical processes and movement of water masses in the lake. The research leverages automated sensing techniques to measure phytoplankton at high-res both in time and through space.

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