Climate change and invasive mussels in New York lakes
Climate Change and Invasive Mussels: Interacting Effects on New York Lakes
New York's lakes are a critical resource, and climate change and invasive mussels are two of the biggest threats to these lakes. How much they interact and change the lake ecology and water quality depends on the lake. The General Lakes Modeling System, expanded and tested by this team, is now used worldwide for assessing the effects of climate change and human activities on lake systems.
New York's lakes are a critical resource, and climate change and invasive mussels are two of the biggest threats to these lakes. Two dreissenid mussels — small, freshwater bivalves — are considered ecosystem engineers as they increase water clarity and transform the bottom structure of lakes. Climate change effects depend on lake morphometry and includes increased thermal stratification. These drivers of ecological change will interact, but the degree of interactions and the magnitude of ecological change to the lakes will depend on the morphometry of the lake. Therefore, ecological forecasting requires consideration of lake physics and lake biology.
To provide a framework for ecological forecasting, Lars Rudstam and his team tested a General Lakes Model across 20 lake types from around the world, including Oneida Lake. A mussel module was added to this model, and the team is continuing to test it as part of a coupled hydrodynamics-biological model. Data was made available through the Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity and eCommons. The databases were used in analyses in several chapters in a book on Oneida Lake. The data sets were also used for comparisons across lake types and for global patterns of temperature.
The General Lakes Model and its extension is being used worldwide for assessing the effects of climate change and human activities on lake systems. The mussel module is an important component. Data analyses allowed the team to separate effects of food web changes from improvement to the Onondaga County sewage treatment plant on water clarity in Onondaga Lake. In Oneida Lake, water clarity is tightly linked to mussels. The team forecasts that climate change induced longer stratification will cause increased algal blooms, which will eliminate mussels from a large portion of the lake bottom and increase nutrient release from the sediments. Concerns about Oneida Lake led to a grant application from the New York Planning Board to develop and evaluate better watershed management, which was approved.
- Funding Source: Hatch
- Statement Year: 2018
- Status: Completed project
- Topics: Mussels, invasive species, water ecology, climate change