SPATIAL AND TEMPORAL VARIATION IN THE HABITAT QUALITY AND RESOURCE UTILIZATION OF FISHES IN A LARGE LAKE ECOSYSTEM
thesisposted on 2021-07-27, 20:09 authored by Joshua Matthew TellierJoshua Matthew Tellier
The prevalence of hypoxia in aquatic systems has increased in recent decades and climate change is expected to worsen the extent and severity of hypoxic phenomena worldwide. Moreover, aquatic hypoxia has produced adverse ecological consequences and stimulated research interest within the Laurentian Great Lakes. The physiological stress imposed by hypoxia reduces habitat quality for most aquatic biota and causes changes in patterns of resource use and food web dynamics. We conducted a review of the primary literature to identify trends in prevalence of Great Lakes hypoxia research and broadly classify the unique hypoxic conditions afflicting Great Lakes ecosystems. We found that the majority of research effort toward Great Lakes hypoxia is focused on the Lake Erie central basin. Our review further revealed that this does not characterize the breadth of hypoxic phenomena that occur throughout the Great Lakes region. We then utilized a long-term monitoring dataset provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes National Program Office to quantify the impact of Lake Erie central basin hypoxia on habitat quality of several fish species. We found that bioenergetics-based growth-rate potential models have a potential application as the framework for the development of biological endpoints that measure the effects of hypoxia on aquatic biota. Finally, we utilized stable isotope analysis to look for broad spatial and temporal trends in resource utilization within distinct regions of the Lake Erie central basin, with hypoxia and large-scale hydrodynamic patterns serving as potential driving patterns for spatial differences.