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The Ecology of Nuisance Algal Blooms in Lake Michigan

During the 1960s and 1970s, the filamentous green alga, Cladophora spp., accumulated in large quantities in many parts of the Laurentian Great Lakes. The problem appeared to have been solved following phosphorus reduction programs in the 1970s and 1980s. However, there has been a recent resurgence of this nuisance alga along the western shores of Lake Michigan and in other parts of the Great Lakes, resulting in potential health threats and a loss of aesthetic quality.

The primary objective of our current research is to determine the potential causes of Cladophora accumulation along the lake's western shore. Factors that are being investigated include nearshore hydrodynamics, light availability, substratum distribution (Cladophora usually grows on a hard substratum), and nutrient availability. Potential interactions between zebra mussels and Cladophora are also being studied.

Support for this research is provided by the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, and the Environmental Protection Agency, Great Lakes National Program Office.

 

Cladophora
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