© 2019 Aaron Fisk - Trophic Ecology Laboratory. All rights reserved

Huron-Erie Corridor Food Web

Background

The Laurentian Great Lakes are home to a diverse range of species and ecosystems. Each lake has its own unique features and history that has shaped the structure of the ecosystems and food webs within them. For example, Lake Erie, the shallowest of the Great Lakes, is home to a wide variety of species that prefer cool to warm water such as Walleye (Sander vitreus) and Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens) and supports the world’s largest commercial freshwater fishery. On the other hand, the Lake Huron fish community is characterized more by species that prefer cold water such as Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush) and Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). While food web studies have been conducted in all of the Great Lakes at different points in time, little is still known about the key interactions and roles of the species shaping them.

Objective

The objective of this project is to create an in-depth map of the key interactions and species shaping the food webs within the Huron-Erie Corridor. To this end, a number of food web studies are being conducted throughout Lake Huron and Lake Erie to determine the species present and their roles within their respective communities.

Stable Isotopes 

Stable isotopes are useful for looking at food web composition because they can tell us about a species diet and habitat use. Carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) stable isotopes are commonly used as indicators of resource use and trophic position, respectively. Sulphur stable isotopes (δ34S) can be used to differentiate between open water and benthic habitats in freshwater ecosystems. While two isotope niche analysis has been more commonly used, this project will use three to create a clearer picture of what is happening within these ecosystems.

Relevant Lab Members – Cecilia Heuvel (MSc)