Trophic Transfer of Atmospheric and Sedimentary Contaminants Into the Great Lakes Fisheries Controls on the Ecosystem Scale Response Times

EPA Grant Number: R825151
Title: Trophic Transfer of Atmospheric and Sedimentary Contaminants Into the Great Lakes Fisheries Controls on the Ecosystem Scale Response Times
Investigators: Baker, Joel E. , Ostrom, Nathaniel E.
Current Investigators: Baker, Joel E. , Coon, Tom , Eadie, Brian , Hall, Don , Ostrom, Peggy , Ostrom, Nathaniel E.
Institution: University of Maryland , Michigan State University
Current Institution: University of Maryland , Michigan State University , NOAA / GLERL
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: October 1, 1996 through September 30, 1999
Project Amount: $617,254
RFA: Ecological Assessment (1996) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Ecosystems


The objectives of this three-year field study are to quantify the absolute and relative magnitudes of organic contaminant transfers into the northern Great Lakes fisheries from three exposure routes: (1) atmospheric deposition transferred through the pelagic food web; (2) atmospheric deposition transferred, via rapidly-settling particles, through the benthic food web; and (3) transfer from historically-contaminated, in-place sediments hrough the benthic food web. We hypothesize that each of these routes differs both in their efficiencies of contaminant transfer and in their characteristic response times. This study in Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan, will quantify trophic transfer of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) congeners through the northern Great Lakes food web, with emphasis on the previously unstudied linkage between atmospheric contaminant inputs and benthic food webs via rapidly-settling particles. The overall strategy of this field study is to use sequencing sediment traps deployed throughout the year and detailed sampling of benthic and pelagic organisms to characterize the temporally variable settling fluxes of organic matter and chemical contaminants from surface waters in the northern Great Lakes and to assess the impact of these fluxes on carbon and contaminant flows through the benthic food web. Analysis of nitrogen and carbon stable isotopes and epi-benthic fish gut contents will be used to characterize the benthic food web. Polychlorinated biphenyl congeners will be studied as representatives of the larger class of bioaccumulative organic contaminants and as important pollutants in their own right. A quantitative, process-driven model of contaminant transfers in the Great Lakes food web will be developed that distinguishes between new (i.e., regional atmospheric deposition) and in-place (i.e., recycling from contaminated sediments) sources of contaminants that support the slowly-changing contaminant inventories in the highest trophic levels of the Great Lakes.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 34 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 5 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

atmosphere, sediment, bioaccumulation, PCB, fishery, Great Lakes, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Water, Waste, Geographic Area, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Nutrients, Environmental Chemistry, Contaminated Sediments, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, exploratory research environmental biology, Chemical Mixtures - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Environmental Monitoring, Air Deposition, Ecological Effects - Human Health, Ecology and Ecosystems, Atmospheric Sciences, Ecological Risk Assessment, Ecological Indicators, Great Lakes, aquatic ecosystem, fate and transport, hydrological stability, ecological exposure, fate, carbon cycling, ecosystem assessment, sediment contaminant effects, trophic transfer, response times, contaminated sediment, organic contaminant transfers, benthic food web, chemical contaminants, atmospheric nitrogen deposits, biological integrity, nutrient stress, ecological assessment, polychlorinated biphenyls, regional scale, ecosystem stress, fish , atmospheric contaminants, Lake Michigan, benthic nutrients, bioaccumulation, atmospheric deposition

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1997
  • 1998
  • Final