Lake Erie Ecosystem Structure, Function, and Change

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Submitted By dlmcsalters
Words 841
Pages 4
Lake Erie Ecosystem Structure, Function, and Change
Denise McSalters
SCI 256
November 13. 2013
University of Phoenix

Lake Erie Ecosystem Structure, Function, and Change
Carved out by glaciers during the last ice age the Great Lakes contain 20% of the earth’s fresh water. The lakes provide the majority of the basin’s human population with drinking water, commerce and recreation. Lake Erie is the smallest of the Great Lakes, relatively shallow, and is exposed to prevailing winds. Lake Erie ecosystem supports a diverse group of aquatic and land-dwelling organisms who use the ecosystem during important life stages. The lake support high production of both residential and migratory species and is a center for regional biodiversity. (US Department of the Interior; US Geological Survey, 2013)
Because Lake Erie is exposed to prevailing winds, it is particularly susceptible to intense wave actions and wind-generated changes in the lake level. The “seiches” or changes in the lake tides interchangeably flood and drain the coastal wetlands systems. The costal wetland systems encompass southeastern Michigan, northwest Ohio and southern Ontario. The Watershed is almost completely urban or agricultural. The major urban cities are Toledo, Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo. (US Environmental Protection Agency, 2013)
The most obvious forcer of Lake Erie ecosystem change was due to the input of excessive amounts of phosphorus from mainly agriculture and water treatment plants. At maximum levels in 1960’s and 1970’s the excessive phosphorus input, evidence for cultural eutrophication in the form of algal biomass and growth, harmful algal blooms and hypo limnetic hypoxia/anoxia were present throughout the lake. It is argued that the degradation of closed homogenous systems like the Great Lakes indicated that the system remained relatively unchanged with regard to the…...

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