U.S. Department of Commerce


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Great Lakes Research 36 (2010) 1–4. Doi:10.1016/j.jglr.2010.05.009


Lake Michigan has a long history of non-indigenous introductions that have caused significant ecological change. Here we present a summary of eight papers that document recent changes and the current state of the lower food web of southern Lake Michigan after the establishment of large dreissenid populations. Results are based on long-term data sets collected by federal and academic research and monitoring programs that place recent changes into a historic context. Dramatic and significant changes in the lower food web, such as the loss of the spring diatom bloom, large declines in phytoplankton productivity, and a decline of Mysis populations, were directly or indirectly attributed to the expansion of Dreissena rostriformis bugensis. Total phosphorus concentrations and loadings also have decreased in the last 20 years. Changes in the Lake Michigan ecosystem induced by D. r. bugensis have produced conditions in the offshore pelagic region that are similar to oligotrophic Lake Superior. The future state of the lower food web in southern Lake Michigan is difficult to predict, mainly because population trends of D.r. bugensis in cold, offshore regions are unknown. Hence, monitoring programs designed to collect long-term, consistent data on the lower food web of Lake Michigan are essential.