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Building a reference inventory of Great Lakes aquatic fauna
Sykes, M., J. Barge, AND A. Trebitz. Building a reference inventory of Great Lakes aquatic fauna. St. Louis River Estuary, Superior, WI, March 13 - 14, 2018.
Having a comprehensive inventory of aquatic fauna inhabiting the Great Lakes would bring together many currently scattered sources of information and be a valuable resource for scientists, managers, and educators. This poster describes the efforts by an EPA/ORD team, with funding support by EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office, to compile such an inventory via a comprehensive review of published literature and on-line specimen repositories. This work falls under SSWR research area 3.01A-2.1, and builds on previous EPA/ORD efforts to evaluate the state of genetic barcode libraries for Great Lakes fauna. The intent is to eventually place this inventory on a publicly available website through a collaboration with the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.
Despite the existence of numerous publications and web-pages that address aspects of species composition and distribution in the Great Lakes, there is at present no single resource that brings all this information together. This poster describes our progress towards generating a comprehensive and robust aquatic fauna inventory for the Great Lakes, through an extensive literature review and search of reputable Internet sources. Over 200 documents were studied at length to associate valid literature references to organisms reported to be found in the Great Lakes. To supplement this effort, organisms were harvested from the Barcode of Life Database after filtering on collection location and the quality of supporting taxonomic metadata. These efforts have resulted in a working list of approximately 3,000 unique organisms which include fish, zooplankton, amphibians, reptiles, and benthic macroinvertebrates. Challenges to this undertaking included: 1) outdated literature references and outdated/incomplete taxonomic keys; 2) lack of recent surveys and species-level data; 3) deviations in taxonomic reporting and spellings; 4) difficulty in determining which species are native, invasive, or range-expanding; and 5) assuring the quality of records within public databases. The next phase of the project will focus on populating attribute fields useful in describing an organism’s habitat and characteristics, along with references to the organisms known genetic signatures. All of the collected data will be packaged into a searchable publicly-accessible database that showcases the biodiversity of the Great Lakes aquatic fauna and can assist the research and management community in their biological monitoring efforts.