U.S. Department of Commerce


Date of this Version



Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 55: 2402–2413 (1998)


Densities of the major benthic macroinvertebrate groups declined dramatically at sites shallower than 50 m in southern Lake Michigan between 1980 and 1993. Declines in Diporeia, Oligochaeta, and Sphaeriidae ranged from 40 to 75% at these depths. Total densities declined from 16 800·m–2 in 1980–1981 to 4800·m–2 in 1992–1993 at sites in the 16–30 m depth interval and from 21 300 to 11 300·m–2 at sites in the 31–50 m depth interval. Changes at sites deeper than 50 m were minimal; only sphaeriids declined to any extent. Declines in oligochaetes and sphaeriids occurred uniformly throughout the nearshore region and over the entire sampling period. Declines in these two groups were most likely related to reductions in phosphorus loads and a general decrease in productivity in the nearshore area over the sampling period. On the other hand, declines in Diporeia occurred mainly in the later portion of the sampling period and were greatest in the southeastern region of the lake. Densities at many sites in the southeastern region were <100·m–2 in 1993, down from 3000–8000·m–2 in 1980–1987. We hypothesize that the filtering activities of large populations of Dreissena polymorpha in nearshore waters may be having a negative impact on Diporeia in deeper waters by decreasing the amount of food available to this surface-feeding detritivore.