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Six decades of Lake Ontario ecological history according to benthos

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  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