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EPA GLNPO Great Lakes monitoring program

Jim Watkins, Lars Rudstam, Toby Holda, Stephanie Figary, Joe Connolly, Chris Marshall, Beth Whitmore, Patrick Boynton, Alexander Karatayev, Lyubov Burlakova, Knut Mehler, Susan Daniel (SUNY Buffalo State College ) and Kristen Holeck. (Funded by US EPA Region 5 Great Lakes National Program Office, Chicago, IL)

2021 was the fourth year of our latest five-year grant on monitoring all five Great Lakes for chlorophyll, zooplankton, mysid shrimp, and benthos. Benthos sampling by Buffalo State now also includes larger surveys in each of the lakes every five years associated with the Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative. The US EPA monitors all five Great Lakes each April and August aboard their 180 ft. research vessel, the Lake Guardian. The ship has state of the art sampling equipment including a Seabird CTD (equipped with sensors for temperature, dissolved oxygen, light, particles and chlorophyll) and onboard laboratory facilities. They also have traditional nets and dredges for plankton and benthic sampling. Zooplankton and mysid samples from these surveys are brought back to CBFS in our microscopy laboratory. In addition to monitoring, research projects in the grant include genetic barcoding of invertebrates, mysid biology (Cornell graduate student Toby Holda) and zooplankton indicators (Cornell graduate student Stephanie Figary). At Buffalo State, our collaborators Karatayev, Burlakova, Hrycik and Daniel are in charge of the benthic sampling and analyses using both traditional grabs and video transect techniques to measure dreissenid mussel abundance and evaluate the ”benthoscape”.  Work in 2021 included submission of the next 5-year grant proposal (which was awarded in early 2022) and several manuscripts will be published in a special issue of the Journal of Great Lakes Research in April 2022 led by Watkins with Rudstam, Currie, Karatayev, Scofield, and Hollenhorst.  This program will continue at CBFS and Buffalo State at least through 2027.