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CBFS Great Lakes staff Joe Connolly sampling aboard R/V Guardian

Sampling aboard the Lake Guardian

Trawling for Sturgeon

Brian, Tony and Tom trawling

Director Lars Rudstam diving for mussels in Oneida Lake

Director Lars Rudstam diving for mussels

Trawling

Trawling

Limnology

Staff taking water samples

gill net processing

gill net processing

gill net

gill net

Sampling aboard the Lake Guardian

Sampling aboard the Lake Guardian

Cornell Boat on Oneida Lake

Cornell Boat on Oneida Lake

Tern count on Little Island

Tern count on Little Island

Shackelton Point Boats

Boats docked

Welcome

For more than 60 years, the Cornell Biological Field Station at Shackelton Point has addressed issues of changing ecosystems within the lakes of New York State and beyond. We continue to collaborate with groups to explore the effects of invasive species and climate change, and the effects on aquatic ecosystems. 

 

In the News

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Six decades of Lake Ontario ecological history according to benthos

Apr 19, 2021

Buffalo State (Burlakova, Karatayev, Hrycik, Daniel and Mehler) and CBFS scientist (Rudstam and Watkins) worked with DFO Canada (Dermott), EPA Duluth (Scharold), NOAA-GLERL (Elgin) and University of Michigan (Nalepa) to put together and analyze “Six decades of Lake Ontario ecological history according to benthos”. The paper is now available through the Journal of Great Lakes Research through May 31 https://authors.elsevier.com/c/1ctpX1MRgThoF2.  In this paper Burlakova and coauthors used multivariate community analyses to examine temporal changes in community composition over the last 54 years and to assess the major drivers of long-term changes in the bottom fauna of Lake Ontario. This fauna underwent significant transformations that correspond with three major periods. The first period, termed the pre/early Dreissena period (1964–1990), was characterized by high densities of burrowing amphipods Diporeia, fingernail clams, and worms (oligochaetes). During the next period defined by zebra mussel dominance (the 1990s) the same groups were still prevalent, but at altered densities. In the most recent period (2000s to present), which is characterized by the dominance and proliferation of quagga mussels deeper into the lake, the community has changed dramatically: Diporeia almost completely disappeared, fingernail clams have greatly declined, and densities of quagga mussels, worms and midge larvae have increased. This paper is the first to combine all available lake-wide studies of benthos in Lake Ontario to document the dramatic changes that have occurred in the lake through the quagga mussel invasion.  These mussels have changed the Lake Ontario benthic community, historically dominated by Diporeia, oligochaetes and fingernail clams, to a community dominated by quagga mussels and oligochaetes.
Burlakova, L. E., A. Y. Karatayev, A. R. Hrycik, S. E. Daniel, K. Mehler, L. G. Rudstam, J. M. Watkins, R. Dermott, J. Scharold, A. K. Elgin, and T. F. Nalepa. 2021. Six decades of Lake Ontario ecological history according to benthos. Journal of Great Lakes Research. On line access
 

CBFS crew aboard R/V Lake Guardian

CBFS Great Lakes crew sampling again in 2021

Apr 7, 2021

After missing most Great Lakes field sampling in 2020 due to COVID-19, we are very excited to be able to go out on all five Great Lakes on the R/V Lake Guardian in April 2021. Our crew includes CBFS Technicians Joe Connolly, Beth Whitmore, Chris Marshall, and Alexandrea Rice who will collect zooplankton, mysid shrimp, and chlorophyll samples that will be analyzed over several months at CBFS. Cornell and CBFS Alum Annie Scofield is also on board in her new position as biology technical lead for EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) in Chicago. In preparation, the crew had to endure a two week quarantine stay in separate rooms in a hotel in Milwaukee, WI. Thankfully everyone tested negative, boarded the ship, and have successfully sampled Lake Michigan. Currently the crew is sampling Lake Huron. One additional challenge is that the crew have to stay on board (no shore leave) for the entire month until the boat returns to Milwaukee. Careful planning by GLNPO including consulting with medical professionals was essential for us to have this opportunity. We are looking forward to continuing the long term time series. 

CBFS limnology conducted by Kristen Holeck and Chris Hotaling

The extent and variability of storm‐induced temperature changes in lakes measured with long‐term and high‐frequency data

Apr 7, 2021

CBFS and 36 other scientist worked within and a trans-Atlantic research program led by Orlanne Anneville at Thonon, France, and Jason Stockwell in Vermont to investigate the effects of storms on lake ecosystems. The most recent publication is by Doubek and 36 other scientist including CBFS scientist Rudstam in the premier journal Limnology and Oceanography and can be accessed through this link: http://doi.org/10.1002/lno.11739. The intensity and frequency of storms are projected to increase in many regions of the world because of climate change. They analyzed 18 long-term and high-frequency lake datasets including Oneida Lake, from 11 countries to assess the magnitude of wind- versus rainstorm-induced changes in epilimnetic temperature. They found small day-to-day epilimnetic temperature decreases in response to strong wind and heavy rain during stratified conditions. Epilimnetic temperature change from windstorms, but not rainstorms, was negatively correlated with maximum lake depth. However, even the largest storm-induced mean epilimnetic temperature decreases were typically less than 2ºC. Day-to-day temperature change, in the absence of storms, often exceeded storm-induced temperature changes. Because storm-induced temperature changes to lake surface waters were minimal, changes in other limnological variables (e.g., nutrient concentrations or light) from storms may have larger impacts on biological communities than temperature changes. This is an example of the ongoing work using Oneida Lake data as part of larger global collaborations through the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network.

Evaluation of fish avoidance to acoustic vessels

Mar 25, 2021

CBFS scientist Rudstam and Simonin teamed up with Dufour and Deller from Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Kocovksy from the USGS Great Lakes Science Center to evaluate the importance of vessel avoidance for acoustics surveys in Lake Erie. Three vessels ranging in lengths from 7 to 60 m equipped with similar hydroacoustics units were used simultaneously in Central Lake Erie. Fish abundances obtained by the three vessels were highly correlated but absolute values were significantly different by ~20%, highlighting differential responses of the fish populations to these vessels and the importance of inter-vessel comparisons in fisheries surveys. This paper was published in Fisheries Research last week and is available for free download for the next 50 days.
Link: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1coFY_3nFpOabi
DuFour, M., P. M. Kocovsky, J. Deller, P. W. Simonin, and L. G. Rudstam. 2021. Hydroacoustic survey standardization: Inter-vessel differences in fish densities and potential effects of vessel avoidance. Fisheries Research 239:105948.

Toby Holda

New publication documents lake-wide, seasonal dynamics of Mysis in Lake Michigan during 2015

Jan 2, 2021

CBFS scientists Holda, Rudstam, and Watkins teamed up with NOAA fishery biologist Pothoven, USGS research fisheries biologist Warner, and National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine professor Khyrstenko to investigate Lake Michigan Mysis diluviana population during 2015.  Mysids are small 5 -20 mm long shrimp-like crustaceans that are both predators on smaller zooplankton and a major prey of fish in the Great Lakes. They migrate from the bottom into the water column at night and have to be sampled under red light as they avoid even low light levels but cannot perceive red light. The researchers were able to take a lake-wide, year-long, perspective the Lake Michigan Mysis population, looking at spatial and seasonal patterns in abundance and estimating annual life history rates.  This paper presents the most detailed study of the mysid population in Lake Michigan since the 1970s.  Mysids represented 10-13% of the total zooplankton biomass in the lake in 2015. Density and biomass were higher offshore as mysids prefer deep, cold water.  Size structure analysis indicated generation times of 2 years making this animal the most long-lived zooplankton in the lake.  More worrisome was that mysid production in Lake Michigan in 2015 was lower than most previous estimates in any of the Great Lakes.  Lower annual secondary production by Mysis is a concern for fish managers as many of the important forage fish species feed heavily on Mysis.  The paper “Lake-wide, annual status of the Mysis diluviana population in Lake Michigan in 2015” in the Journal of Great Lakes Research is available online.

Goby densities with a drop-down camera

New Buffalo-CBFS publication: The last 30 years of mussel abundance in Lake Ontario

Dec 17, 2020

Drs. Karatayev, Burlakova and Mehler from Buffalo State’s Great Lakes Science Center teamed up with CBFS scientist Rudstam and Watkins, EPA scientist Wick and NOAA scientist Elgin to investigate dreissenid mussels in Lake Ontario.  Since 1990, eight lake-wide surveys of zebra and quagga mussels have been conducted on Lake Ontario. This data was combined with the 2018 CSMI survey conducted as part of the Cornell-Buffalo grant on the Great Lakes Biological Program.  Quagga mussels is the dominant benthic invertebrate, which replaced zebra mussels in Lake Ontario in the 1990s and has continued to increase lake-wide through 2018.  This is primarily due to increases in the offshore deep waters of the lake.  Clearly, the ecosystem effects of mussels continue to affect the lake. Goby densities were assessed with a dropdown camera.  There were some indication of goby predation reducing mussel recruitment. The paper “Dreissena in Lake Ontario 30 years post-invasion” in the Journal of Great Lakes Research is available online.

CBFS Scientist Watkins sampling aboard The Guardian

The State of Lake Huron in 2018

Nov 13, 2020

Cornell Biological Field Station scientists teamed up with colleagues from the US and Canada to analyze data on lower trophic levels in Lake Huron. The report in the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission special publication series is available on line. These analyses shows relatively stable nutrient, phytoplankton, zooplankton and benthos in Lake Huron since 2006 after a rather sharp decline in all but the benthos in 2003-2004. The report is based on data collected by the EPA Biomonitoring Program (Cornell for zooplankton, mysids, and deep chlorophyll layers - Watkins, Rudstam and Scofield, Buffalo State for benthos – Karatayev and Burlakova; University of Minnesota for phytoplankton – Reavie, EPA for nutrients and satellite data – Barbiero, Lesht and Hinchey, and nearshore data from Ontario – Howell). There collaborations among Great Lakes scientists is a hallmark of CBFS’s Great Lakes program.

Scientists aboard the R/V Lake Guardian use the rosette sampler to record measurements and take water samples from the lake surface to the bottom. Photo credit: Kristy Phillips

Effect of Lake Trophic State on Great Lakes Chlorophyll Distribution and Implications for Long-Term Trends

Oct 2, 2020

CBFS graduate student now Dr. Annie Scofield working with Watkins and Rudstam from CBFS and Eric Osantowski from EPA recently published a study in the journal Limnology and Oceanography that highlights the importance of comparing how chlorophyll distributions vary in the Great Lakes, both across lakes and over time.  The study is based on data collected from the EPA Great Lakes National Program Office vessel R/V Lake Guardian.  Deep chlorophyll layers contribute to the productivity of these lakes and affect distributions of zooplankton and fish.  Given the current ecological changes in the Great Lakes, it is important to better understand how these deep chlorophyll are affected by nutrients and water clarity, and the ultimate effects on the food web. This paper is the first study to compare the formation and extent of these deep chlorophyll layers across the five Great Lakes. The authors found that light determines the depth of the DCL and the productivity of the layer is higher in Lake Ontario than in the upper Great Lakes. Dr. Scofield also worked with undergraduate interns on this project, including Kayden Nasworthy and Catherine Louie (summer ’15). 

Scientists pictured aboard the R/V Lake Guardian include the author of the study Annie Scofield along with former Cornell Biological Field Station intern and Duke Fellow Catherine Louie (summer '15). 
 
 

Barcoding Workshop held at Shackelton Point

Jul 9, 2020

At the end of February 2020, scientists as well as EPA representatives managing or participating in the GLRI Barcoding Initiative project gathered at Cornell Biological Field Station to share updates with the group. 

The fisheries and limnology of Oneida Lake 2019

May 7, 2020

Oneida Lake is New York State’s 3rd most heavily fished lake. Walleye have historically received the majority of targeted effort, with black bass increasing in importance in recent years. Long-term monitoring of the fisheries and limnology of Oneida Lake has captured a series of changes in recent decades that have resulted in pronounced changes in the lake’s physical and biological characteristics, including reductions in nutrient inputs resulting from the Great Lakes Basin water quality agreements;  establishment of invasive dreissenid mussels resulting in increases in water clarity; increases in summer water temperatures and decreases in duration of ice cover; establishment of a breeding population of double-crested cormorants; and increases in populations of white perch and gizzard shad. 

Anna Poslednik

Recent Cornell Biological Field Station intern Awarded Prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

Apr 15, 2020

Congratulations to recent Cornell Biological Field Station intern Anna Poslednik ’21 in receiving the Goldwater Scholarship.  The Goldwater Scholarship is one of the most prestigious awards available to sophomores and juniors across U.S. colleges who show exceptional promise in the fields of science, mathematics and engineering.
As one of the selected 396 recipients from approximately 5,000 nominees, she will receive up to $7,500 to cover expenses like tuition, books and room and board for her senior year. As part of the selection process, colleges nominate up to four students who intend to pursue a career in research and have at least a 3.0 GPA.
Anna first started her research at her summer 2019 internship guided by Postdoc Tom Evans and Senior Research Associate Randy Jackson. The following is an excerpt taken from the Cornell Daily Sun.
 

What We Don't Know (About Lakes) Could Hurt Us

Mar 6, 2020

As the power of extreme weather events increase with climate change, a team of scientists warn that lakes around the world may dramatically change, threatening ecosystem health and water quality.

The Spiny Water Flea, Bythotrephes Longimanus

Sep 23, 2019

The spiny water flea, Bythotrephes longimanus, a predatory zooplankton species native to lakes in Europe, has been found for the first time in Oneida Lake this week.  

Comparison of Great Lakes Zooplankton Communities/Great Lakes restoration Initiative

Jul 26, 2019

(July 25, 2019) A new paper published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research, authored by U.S. EPA contract scientists Rick Barbiero and Barry Lesht and Cornell University researchers Lars Rudstam and Jim Watkins, offers an unprecedented look at zooplankton communities across the Great Lakes during a period of great change in the lakes.

Record Sturgeon

Recent Sturgeon Catch May Be the Largest Fish Ever Recorded From Oneida Lake

Jun 19, 2019

Last week, researchers at the Cornell University Biological Field Station may have set a new mark 
for the largest fish ever recorded from Oneida Lake. A netting survey for lake sturgeon resulted in 
the tagging and release of a 139 pound sturgeon, the largest sturgeon handled since the sturgeon 
netting survey began 17 years ago in 2002, and possibly the largest fish ever documented in Oneida Lake.