Lake Superior Science and Monitoring Priorities: Share Your Advice

The Lake Superior Partnership, co-chaired by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Environment and Climate Change Canada, is collecting information to help define a list of lakewide science and monitoring priorities and to inspire discussions at the Lake Superior Coordinated Science and Monitoring Workshop on July 10-11, 2019, in Duluth, Minn. An updated list of Lake Superior science and monitoring priorities will be submitted to science leads under the Canada – United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement by December 30, 2019.

Your responses to the following questions will help to inform international research focused on Lake Superior:

  1. What science and monitoring priority from the 14 listed below, in your opinion, remains of highest importance?
  2. What science and monitoring priority from the 14 listed below, in your opinion, is now of lowest importance?
  3. What new questions or issues do you think should be addressed through future science and monitoring in and around Lake Superior?
  4. What is the most important management question(s) that could be answered through future science and monitoring?
  5. How could your organization cooperate with in the 2021 Lake Superior year of intensive monitoring (e.g. planning, fieldwork, research)? Include a contact person if appropriate.

Send input by email to Rob Hyde, ECCC, rob.hyde@canada.ca, or via the Google Form linked below.

A summary of input received by July 8th will be presented at the workshop. A summary of input received by July 31st will be included in the workshop’s final report, for consideration by the Lake Superior Partnership.


List of Science and Monitoring Priorities Identified through the Lake Superior Partnership in 2014

Aquatic species
  1. Monitoring the lower-trophic food-web and energy transfer. Is the lower food web stable and healthy? How can we improve the ecological models to better integrate across multiple trophic levels?
  2. Lake Sturgeon index survey. Is progress being made in the rehabilitation of lake sturgeon in Lake Superior?
  3. Aquatic invasive species early detection monitoring effort. Have new AIS been found? What is the status of established AIS?
  4. Fish rehabilitation plans. Several rehabilitation plans exist for Lake Superior fish; is adequate progress being made?
Chemical concerns
  1. Concentrations and cycling of Zero Discharge Demonstration Program chemicals in the Lake Superior basin: Mercury, PCBs, Dioxin, Toxaphene, Chlordane, Dieldrin, DDT, OCS, HCB. What do we know about the concentrations and cycling of these chemicals in Lake Superior? What can watershed/land managers do to reduce chemical cycling? What are the effects of climate change on concentrations and cycling?
  2. Chemicals of emerging concern – toxicity, persistence and bioaccumulative properties. Preference to all candidate chemical of mutual concern under GLWQA. What chemicals of emerging concern are of management concern, based on concentrations, future use projections, and toxicity properties?
  3. Mercury trends in Lake Superior fish. Why does data show a decrease/increase/decrease in Lake Superior fish? If so, what is causing the vacillation?
  4. Nearshore areas susceptible to eutrophication based on loadings, climate changes, lake currents and hydrodynamics. What locations are most susceptible to eutrophication? What are the top sources/locations of nutrient delivery in those areas? Ascertain whether TP and N are increasing and if so, from where?
  5. Effects of stamp sands. Follow-up on studies that are finding elevated levels of mercury and copper. What is impact of the stamp sands on Lake Superior’s water quality and ecosystem health?
Habitat
  1. Identify and rank vulnerability of the cold-water tributaries to Lake Superior to various stressors, including climate change. How do we better manage Lake Superior’s unique network of cold-water streams (and related species) in response to climate change and other stressors?
  2. Baseline water quality monitoring. What is baseline for assessing environmental impacts of future environmental threats?
  3. Identify species of conservation concern. What are the top species of biodiversity conservation concern and their important habitat areas? What species are at range limits in the Lake Superior ecosystem and hence potentially sensitive to climate change?
  4. Land use and cover. What is the extent and location of wetlands, farmlands, forest, development, and other features of the Lake Superior watershed landscape? How has land use and land cover in the Lake Superior watershed changed over time? Are the changes resulting in adverse impacts or additional risk to Lake Superior?
  5. Lakewide macroinvertebrates monitoring to assess threats, stressors, success of restoration and protection investments. Would it be worthwhile to pursue consistent and comparable binational lakewide network of macroinvertebrate monitoring to inform and direct LAMP implementation? What macroinvertebrate monitoring is already happening around Lake Superior? What techniques are being used?

Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement References

Lakewide Management Annex 2.3:

“identify research, monitoring and other science priorities for the assessment of current and future potential threats to water quality, and for the identification of priorities to support management actions.”

Science Annex 10.E:

“In addition to ongoing science and monitoring activities that are routinely carried out by the Parties and other government and non-government entities, the Parties shall implement a cooperative science and monitoring initiative for each of the Great lakes on a five-year rotational basis. The Parties shall focus monitoring activities on the science priorities identified through the Lakewide Management Progress. The Parties will coordinate these activities across government and non-government organizations.”

Contacts, Lake Superior Partnership Working Group, co-chairs:
Liz LaPlante, USEPA, laplante.elizabeth@epa.gov
Steve Clement, ECCC, steve.clement@canada.ca

Author

Sharon Moen

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