University study finds source of algal blooms in Lake Erie
by Remy Farkas
Under the surface of Lake Erie lies a vast and complex ecosystem of plants and animals. In a recent study, University of Michigan scientists dove into the biology of the lake’s algae population to better understand the catalyst of their summer blooms and the potential hazards they pose to the environment.
According to a University press release, the study — conducted by the University’s Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research — found cyanobacteria cells to be the cause of Lake Erie’s summer algal blooms. Over two years, researchers evaluated the sediment-core of 16 sites up to 30 feet deep over 145 square miles in the lake’s western area, as it has been greatly affected by the blooms.
The team identified cyanobacteria cells as the culprit for summer blooms, surviving at the bottom of the lake during the winter and reemerging in the spring. Christine Kitchens led the study for her master’s thesis and highlighted the environmental implications of the research. She deemed the cyanobacteria behavior as “seeding” the algal bloom, which explains the increase in size and extent of the blooms in early summer.