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Assessing the role of turbid river plumes in the development of Microcystis blooms in Lake Erie with molecular techniques

Objective:  To determine whether light and nutrient conditions inside the Maumee   River plume (tributary of Lake Erie) act as an incubator of   Microcystis blooms, which may then spread to other parts of the   lake.      In August 2  3 and 2  4, massive blooms of the cyanobacteria   Microcystis aeruginosa formed in western Lake Erie and persisted for   nearly a month. Surface scums of Microcystis containing high   concentrations of the toxin microcystin washed ashore in Michigan   and Ohio, resulting in foul-smelling, rotting, algal mats. Beaches   and recreational boating areas were rendered unusable and sport   fishing was adversely affected. The Microcystis bloom of 2  3 was   perhaps the most severe in Lake Erie's recent history, but of   greater concern is a trend towards increasing frequency of   Microcystis blooms in the last decade. Based on our field   observations in 2  3 and 2  4, we hypothesize that low-light and   high-nutrient conditions in the Maumee River plume may potentially   explain why outer Maumee Bay, the epicenter of both 2  3 and 2  4   blooms, is especially prone to bloom formation. We will test our   hypothesis using a combination of traditional field measurements and   recently-developed molecular and physiological techniques.    Recommendations resulting from this research may include controls on   sediment loading and shifts in the timing of dredging activity.     (microcystis); (microcystin); (Microcystis aeruginosa);   (cyanobacteria); (Lake Erie); (eutrophication); (algal bloom);   (algal blooms); (toxin); (toxins); (Ohio); (blue-green algae)

In progress
Start Date
End Date
Thomas BridgemanPrincipal Investigator
Associated with 2 projects
Christine MayerResearcher
Associated with 1 projects
Von SiglerResearcher
Associated with 1 projects
Scott HeckathornResearcher
Associated with 1 projects
State of Ohio $ 60,060.00USDEstimates

Funding 8 projects for a total of $223,131.00
Ohio Sea Grant College Program $ 52,634.00USDEstimates

Funding 15 projects for a total of $599,045.00
Scope of Study
Field Investigation
Scale of Phenomena
Impact of Pollutants
Nutrients, Including Phosphorus
Lake Basin Connecting Channels
Lake Erie
Out of Basin
State Province
Purpose of Project
Loadings Determination
Special Survey
Region Being Monitored
Tributary Mouth
Resource Being Monitored
Human Health
Plankton / Microorganisms
Societal/Surface Water
Beneficial Use Impairment Assessments
Eutrophication or Undesirable Algae
Restrictions on Dredging Activities
Annex Numbers
Control of Phosphorus
Persistent Toxic Substances
Specific Objectives for toxic substances and effluents
  • Annex Numbers
    Annex Numbers
    Control of Phosphorus
    Persistent Toxic Substances
    Specific Objectives for toxic substances and effluents
  • Annex 17

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