Saving the Great Lakes by understanding the food webs within them
TVisible from space, the vast Laurentian North American Great Lakes system holds one-fifth of all fresh surface water on Earth and contains widely varying habitat. Its five lakes are among the world’s largest by volume, and are even visible from space. and contain widely varying habitat types. The population of tThe Great Lakes basin would rank as the world’s 12th largest countryis also an important source of commerce—, while its binational (Canadaian/US) production in the region constitutes the fourth highest GDP in the world ($4.1 trillion in 2012) and supports 49 million jobs in North America.
However, the Great Lakes are more vulnerable now than at any time in recorded history. The accumulating effects of such long-time stressors such as contaminants, nutrient runoff and invasive species are interacting with a changing climate to create a new dynamic for the Great Lakes, ; one in which its ecosystems can change quickly and unexpectedly, for the worse.
As Canada Research Chair in Changing Great Lakes Ecosystems, Aaron Dr. Fisk’s research will examine the structure and function of the Great Lakes food webs by using a combination of naturally -occurring chemical tracers and acoustic telemetry technology. Food webs are a key component of ecosystems, since, as all animals (, including humans) , are embedded in them. Global change can profoundly alter the structure and links within food webs, ultimately changing the types and abundance of organisms able to survive in an ecosystem.
Our ability to sustain healthy freshwater ecosystems and the invaluable services they provide depends on understanding how nature and humans interact and influence the structure and function of food webs. Dr. Fisk’s research will provide new information on how ecosystems function work and how they react to environmental stressors.