In the recently completed Northeast Climate Science Center project, "Developing Fish Trophic Interaction Indicators of Climate Change for the Great Lakes", Richard Kraus (USGS Lake Erie Biological Station) and partners addressed regional climate change effects on aquatic food webs in the Great Lakes.
The research team’s findings support the incorporation of some relatively simple and cost-efficient approaches into existing agency monitoring programs to track the near-term status of fish and fish community composition by functional groupings. In addition, the project developed multiple indicators of dietary and distributional responses to environmental variability, which are intended to help resource managers select the most informative approach for addressing climate change related questions. This work has had several positive impacts on a wide range of resource management and stakeholder activities, most notably in Lake Erie. The results were instrumental in the development of an interim decision rule for dealing with data collected during hypoxic events to improve stock assessment of Yellow Perch. In addition, novel findings from this study regarding spatial and temporal variability in hypoxia have aided the US-Environmental Protection Agency in the development of a modified sampling protocol to more accurately quantify the central basin hypoxic zone, and this directly addressed a goal of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 2012 to reduce the extent and severity of hypoxia. Finally, the study areas developed in this project formed the basis for food web sampling in the 2014 bi-national Coordinated Science and Monitoring Initiative work in Lake Erie.
Note this project was co-funded with the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes LCC.