Elkhart Lake: A Kettle Full of Exciting Science!

A BioGeoChemist's Dream: A steep-sided, glacially-scoured kettle lake that is small enough to budget; has no riverine inputs (only groundwater); has a watershed barely twice as large as the lake's surface; and has only one, gauged outlet.

Dragging the zooplankton net out of an ice-hole is quite a bit harder than pulling it over the side of a small boat. You have to work quickly to avoid freezing the sample of copepods, cladocerans and other small animals. But because winter kills are very rare here, it is important that we know what is active in mid-winter. This in part sets up what might happen after ice-out when the spring comes around.


Investigating zebra mussel effects on small lakes involves both lake basin monitoring and experimental manipulations. Here undergraduate student Heather H. prepares to "deploy" two bricks with zebra mussels glued to them. One is open, allowing complete interaction with the environment. The other is wrapped in a coarse mesh bag to exclude animals but which allows algae to pass through for zebra mussel nutrition. In all, three each of three different treatments (control, mesh, and UV screen) were placed at two different locations in the lake.