The Lake Erie Biomonitoring (LEB) program conducted in 1994, focused on the eastern basin of the lake, resampling the same sites as in 1993. Nutrient conditions were similar in the two years. Responses differed between the stratified offshore and unstratified nearshore.
At the offshore station, seasonal phytoplankton biomass was 56% higher in 1994 than in 1993 and apparently resulted from a reduction in grazing pressure by Dreissena. Dreissena biomass and their potential clearance rates at the offshore station were much lower in the spring of 1994 than in the spring of 1993 (2.5 vs. 14.9 m3·m·2·d·'), respectively. Despite this increase in phytoplankton biomass, chlorophyll (Chi) and phytoplankton photosynthesis (PP) were not significantly higher in 1994. Dinoflagellates, which have lower Chl:C and lower photosynthesis:Chl ratios than other groups of phytoplankton, accounted for much of the increase in biomass. Rotifer biomass decreased by 50% and zooplankton biomass by 40% between the two years. Calanoids were responsible for much of the decrease in zooplankton biomass. Composition also shifted towards larger bodied cladocerans, such as Daphnia and Bythotrephes, and away from Bosmina. This shift coincided with changes in predation pressure. Age-one smelt abundance was extremely high in 1993 and low in 1994, while the reverse was true of the YOY smelt. Age-one smelt consume mainly cladocerans and the YOY, copepods (REF).
At the nearshore stations, seasonal PP and Chi were well below that expected given the total phosphorus (TP) concentration, indicating that Dreissena had an important impact on phytoplankton photosynthesis in this region. Low transparency due to suspended sediments also contributed to the low PP at station El. Zooplankton biomass was lower in 1994 than in 1993, and species composition and size shifted. Daphnia increased and calanoids and Bosmina decreased in the nearshore as in the offshore, presumably in response to changes in the smelt population. However, Bythotrephes decreased and rotifer biomass increased unlike in the offshore.
Graham, D.M., J.A. Dahl, E.S. Millard, O.E. Johannsson and L.L. White. 1996. Assessment of the abundance, biomass and production of the lower trophic levels in the eastern basin of Lake Erie, 1994. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2110: x+104 p.