Lake Erie Center

Research and Training Accomplishments

Summary of the Most Significant Research and Training Accomplishments Attributable to the Lake Erie Center and its Scientific Advisory Board during the Last Five Years

  • NSF Field Stations and Marine Laboratories (FSML) grant to assemble and implement a real-time collaborative environmental sensor network to evaluate carbon/water cycling in the Great Lakes, providing fundamental data for understanding ecosystem and climate changes, which will be communicated to the scientific, agency, and educational communities and to the public. The environmental sensor system will consist of eddy covariance flux sensors on towers in Lake Erie along with a mobile unit, to collect and disseminate essential data on the net ecosystem exchange of green house gases (CO2, CH4), H2O, and energy, as well as the physical and chemical properties of the Western Lake Erie Basin.
  • NSF Gk-12 program ($2.4 million), “Graduate fellows in high school STEM education: An environmental science learning community at the land-lake ecosystem interface”, which supports 8 graduate fellows and 8 high school teachers per year, 5 years, from Civil Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Geography & Planning and other UT departments.
  • NSF URM (Undergraduate Research and Mentoring) program funded for $600,000 in 2009, for 5 years. The goals of the program are to train and extensively mentor underrepresented undergraduate student scientists for graduate study in environmental biology, while augmenting our understanding of anthropogenic land-water interface stressors in the biodiversity, habitat, and water quality crises.
  • Research Experiences for Teachers award for high school teacher Tim Bollin to conduct research on fish genetics in Stepien’s lab and work with her graduate student Amanda Haponski. This team provided a successful transition to the GK-12 program.
  • NSF REU at the Lake Erie Center. Successful training and research discoveries in the Maumee Bay ecosystem by a host of undergraduate researchers.
  • Discovery of very high genetic diversity tracing to multiple founding sources from the Ponto-Caspian region for Great Lakes invasions of zebra and quagga mussels and round gobies (Stepien & Tumeo 2006, Stepien et al. 2005, Brown & Stepien 2008, 2009).
  • Identified a cryptic tubenose goby species in the Great Lakes and Black Sea rivers, along with two other species (Stepien et al. 2005, Stepien & Tumeo 2006, Neilson & Stepien 2009a,b)
  • Established high-resolution DNA microsatellite databases resolving stock structure of major fisheries in the Great Lakes – walleye, yellow perch, and smallmouth bass (Stepien et al. 2007, 2009, 2010, Borden & Stepien 2006, Strange & Stepien 2007a,b, Sepulveda-Villet et al. 2009, Parker et al. 2009).
  • Prediction of ephemeral hypoxic events in western Lake Erie and failures of reproduction in mayfly populations (an important food source for Lake Erie fisheries) using NOAA surface temperature and wind data (Bridgeman et al. 2006, Moorhead et al. 2005, 2008).
  • Lake Erie Algal Source Tracking (LEAST) Project (USEPA).Understanding the relationship of Maumee River flow, total phosphorus concentration, and turbidity to increasing frequency of blooms of toxic cyanobacteria Microcystis in Maumee Bay.
  • Quantification of Dreissena impacts on lake primary productivity (Zhu et al. 2006,2007a,b, 2008), novel description of Dreissena impacts on benthic microbial communities (Lohner et al. 2007), test of effect of environmental change on ecological stoichiometry in benthic food webs (Qin et al. 2007)
  • Use of constructed wetlands to control the input of pathogens and contaminants to Maumee Bay while restoring endangered habitat via the use of native plants.
  • Development of bioeconomics models to predict the economic costs/benefits of slowing the spread of the emerald ash borer (Iverson et al. 2008)
  • Assessment of the ability of wetlands to limit the spread of zebra mussels in lake-wetland systems using GIS and field studies (Bodamer & Bossenbroek 2008)
  • The valuation of water quality improvements utilizing biological, chemical, and physical measures to optimally determine the best use of public funds for clean-up efforts (Egan et al. 2009)
  • On-site sampling control with individual level panel data for lake value (Corrigan et al. 2009)
  • Impact of cap-type on the structure and activity of microbial communities in contaminated sediments (Foley et al. 2007)
  • Development of a Geographic Information System (GIS) for the Maumee River watershed and delivery of spatial data over the internet (Torbick et al. 2006). 
  • Assessment of changing spatial and temporal patterns of water quality in Maumee Bay using historic data collections 1928-2003 (Moorhead et al. 2008).
  • Timing of coastal sand dune activity along the Great Lakes, and synchronicity with lake level and climate drivers (Loope et al. 2004, Fisher & Loope 2005, Fisher et al. 2007, Timmons et al. 2007).
Last Updated: 3/22/15