Summer 2022 eNewsletter

Summer Announcements


Summit and Working Group (SWG) Meetings: Fish Restoration Benchmarks and Coordinated Mesocosm Experiments

CIGLR convenes top experts from Great Lakes universities, NGOs, government agencies, and businesses to participate in SWGs focused on identifying the most pressing research and management needs to achieve sustainability in the Great Lakes. SWGs are centered on CIGLR’s research themes and are designed to advance Great Lakes science and contribute to CIGLR’s mission to increase NOAA’s research capacity across the Great Lakes. This has been a particularly productive year for SWGs. Our Spring eNews highlighted SWGs focused on Great Lakes oil spills and citizen science, and here we summarize this summer’s SWGs on fish habitat restoration and integrated mesocosm research. We look forward to one more SWG in October, centered on defining baseline ecosystem conditions in dynamic Great Lakes ecosystems.

Benchmarks for Great Lakes Fish Habitat Restoration

Dr. Karen Alofs (UM) addresses the Fish Habitat Restoration Summit. Photo Credit: Aubrey Lashaway.

From May 2-6, 2022, Karen Alofs, PhD of the University of Michigan, led a diverse working group of scientists with expertise in Great Lakes fish ecology and nearshore ecosystems to discuss approaches, information gaps, and data needs related to fish habitat restoration. To ensure varied perspectives and contributions to the working group, participants from several federal, academic, binational, and non-profit entities were identified to represent diverse expertise and career levels. Steering committee members included Ed Rutherford, PhD (NOAA-GLERL) and Andrew Miller, PhD (University of Michigan).

Great Lakes aquatic habitats and fish communities have changed drastically over the past two centuries due to a combination of persistent and ever-changing anthropogenic stressors. Coastal fish habitat restoration efforts in the Great Lakes would benefit from a critical examination of past and current approaches to planning and evaluating (i.e., benchmarking) restoration projects.

Collectively, the group summarized the range of approaches used to guide restoration of nearshore fish habitat in the Great Lakes. They addressed the conceptual and data limitations of current approaches, such as data availability, quality, and sharing, and underrepresented species and life stages. The group outlined best practices for establishing benchmarks for future restoration projects under changing ecosystem conditions.These discussions and their products will foster a more unified and collaborative approach to coastal restoration projects in the Great Lakes.

For more on the Great Lakes Fish Restoration Working Group and associated products, please visit the SWG webpage:

Great Lakes Integrated Mesocosm Research (GLIMR)

Dr. Alan Steinman (GVSU) addresses the GLIMR Summit as discussions of coordinated Great Lakes mesocosm work was underway. Photo Credit: Mary Ogdahl.

From June 22-23, 2022, a team of experts led by scientists from Grand Valley State University, University of Michigan CIGLR, Wayne State University, Central Michigan University, and NOAA GLERL convened to develop a coordinated and standardized approach for the use of experimental mesocosms across the Great Lakes basin. Several institutions have mesocosm or mesocosm-type facilities around the Great Lakes, presenting an opportunity for coordinated research. This interdisciplinary summit was designed to facilitate discussions among the participants to identify experiments and areas of research that are of the greatest interest for coordination, such as ecosystem services (or function), transplant designs (i.e., moving source water from one mesocosm facility to another), and portable mesocosm laboratories.

Although mesocosm research has inherent limitations owing to their relatively small volume and over-simplification of natural systems, they are useful for simulating a wide range of environmental conditions in controlled and replicated experimental units. Mesocosms facilitate the comprehensive assessment of ecosystem processes and allow for testing of mechanisms driving ecological structure and function, thus improving our understanding of how systems operate. They are very useful for testing hypotheses and predictions from ecological or biogeochemical models. A basin-wide mesocosm approach that uses the same design, same instrumentation, and same analytical procedures, but in different areas of the Great Lakes, would give researchers a powerful tool to study the degree to which Great Lakes respond to applied stressors.

For more on the GLIMR Summit and associated products, please visit the SWG webpage:

CIGLR Welcomes New Members to Our Team.

Anna Boegehold, PhD, is an Algal Toxin and Ecology Research Specialist working with Casey Godwin, PhD (CIGLR) and the Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) monitoring team to research cyanobacteria blooms in the Great Lakes and investigate the dynamic ways in which they interact with the surrounding ecosystems and impact environmental and community health.

Megan DiCocco is a Stakeholder Engagement Specialist in CIGLR’s ECO program and facilitates connections between scientists and stakeholder groups in the Great Lakes region, with the goal of co-designing research from project development to product distribution.

Kristie Mitchell, PhD, is a Microbial Ecology Postdoctoral Research Fellow interested in zooplankton predator-prey dynamics. She is working with S. Rao Chaganti, PhD (CIGLR), to evaluate the gut contents of zooplankton in the Great Lakes using a metagenomics approach.

Paris Schofield is an Aquatic Ecology Laboratory Technician working with Casey Godwin, PhD (CIGLR) and team on aquatic ecology and Harmful Algal Bloom (HABs) research in the Great Lakes.