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Environ Manage. 2012 Oct;50(4):664-78. doi: 10.1007/s00267-012-9902-x. Epub 2012 Jul 24.

Water quality and plankton in the United States nearshore waters of Lake Huron.

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Mid-Continent Ecological Division, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Duluth, MN 55804-2595, USA.


Our goal in the development of a nearshore monitoring method has been to evaluate and refine an in situ mapping approach to assess the nearshore waters across the Great Lakes. The report here for Lake Huron is part of a broader effort being conducted across all five Great Lakes. We conducted an intensive survey for the United States nearshore of Lake Huron along a continuous shoreline transect (523 km) from Port Huron, Michigan, to Detour Passage. A depth contour of 20 m was towed with a conductivity-temperature depth profiler, fluorometer, transmissometer, and laser optical plankton counter. Multiple cross-contour tows (10-30 m) on the cruise dates were used to characterize the variability across a broader range of the nearshore. The cross-contour tows were comparable with the alongshore contour indicating that the 20-m contour does a good job of representing the nearshore region (10-30 m). Strong correlations were observed between water quality and spatially associated watershed land use. A repeat tow separated by several weeks investigated temporal variability in spatial patterns within a summer season. Strong correlations were observed across each variable for the temporal repeat across broad- and fine-scale spatial dimensions. The survey results for Lake Huron nearshore are briefly compared with a similar nearshore survey in Lake Superior. The biomass concentrations of lower food web components of Lake Huron were notably approximately 54-59 % of those in Lake Superior. The towed instrumentation survey supported the recent view of a change in Lake Huron to an ultra-oligotrophic state, which has been uncharacteristic in recent history.

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