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Great Lakes Protection Fund Large Grants 07-08

During 2008, six projects totaling $562,044 were selected to receive grants under the Great Lakes Protection Fund.

Lake Ontario Nearshore Nutrient Study - Phase 2

Grant recipient: SUNY Brockport
Grant amount: $100,000

SUNY Brockport will lead Phase 2 of a three-phase study to determine the factors contributing to ecosystem changes within the coastal waters of Lake Ontario. Portions of the coastal zone are experiencing elevated levels of phosphorus, suspended solids, turbidity, nitrate, invasive zebra and quagga mussels, the common algae Cladophora, and cyanobacteria, along with frequent beach closings. A change in the nearshore to offshore movement of materials could explain these observations. A key question is to what extent the retention (and accumulation) of nutrients has increased in the nearshore. Researchers at SUNY Brockport will lead a bi-national team of scientists to evaluate the working hypothesis that nutrients and particulate matter loaded to the coastal zone are being trapped/sequestered in the coastal zone by invasive mussels and algae.

Identification of Sources of Fecal Bacterial Pollution in Lake Erie Beach Waters

Grant recipient: SUNY at Fredonia State College
Grant amount: $75,542

SUNY Fredonia will identify the sources of fecal bacteria in Lake Erie beach waters by isolating Escherichia coli bacteria from the waters and comparing genetic fingerprints of these bacteria to E. coli strains isolated from known fecal samples of various organisms in the region. Genetic fingerprints will be generated for comparison to the fingerprints of E. coli isolated from fecal samples collected from cats, cows, deer, dogs, geese, gulls and humans. Researchers will also test the genetic fingerprints of E. coli isolated from sand and algae to see how these serve as reservoirs of bacteria. The project is a collaborative approach between SUNY Fredonia, the Chautauqua County Health Department and the City of Dunkirk in managing the beach waters in Dunkirk, New York.

Identification and Assessment of Migratory Bird Stopover Habitats in the Lake Ontario Basin

Grant recipient: The Nature Conservancy, Central & Western Chapter
Grant amount: $90,990

Recent studies indicate that migration is the period of highest mortality for neo-tropical migrant birds. The increasing scarcity of suitable places to rest, feed, and escape predation during migration contributes to this mortality. In the Great Lakes region, the importance of "stopover sites" is heightened by the Lakes themselves, which present barriers to migrating birds, but also provide important spring aquatic food sources. Conservation of migratory birds requires protecting a network of stopover sites. The Nature Conservancy will develop a predictive model of stopover habitat for a portion of Lake Ontario's watershed based on land cover data, hydrography, wetland diversity, and shoreline characteristics. The model will be validated by a volunteer-based field study of migratory bird abundance and diversity, designed to investigate the relative importance of different habitat and landscape characteristics for stopover habitat quality. Resultant maps of stopover sites will be distributed to stakeholders.

Managing Invasive European Frogbit through Research and Educational Outreach in New York's Great Lakes Basin

Grant recipient: Finger Lakes Institute
Grant amount: $95,512

European frogbit is an invasive floating plant that has invaded New York's Great Lakes Basin. It forms dense floating mats, which have detrimental effects on native aquatic vegetation by blocking light, on animals by reducing food plants and dissolved oxygen, and on human activities by interfering with boating, fishing, swimming and hunting. Effective management strategies are needed. Researchers and educators from Finger Lakes Institute and collaborating institutions will study the effectiveness of several control methods for European frogbit, provide management recommendations to prevent its future spread, and increase public awareness about this invasive species through educational outreach. They will conduct experiments to evaluate three control methods: hand pulling in low density areas; surface covers for high density areas; and biological controls. Results will be disseminated to raise stakeholder awareness about the effective management of this plant through early detection and rapid response initiatives.

Foodweb-Mediated Transport and Bioaccumulation of PBDE in Sportfish from Eastern Lake Erie

Grant recipient: SUNY at Buffalo State College
Grant amount: $100,000

Bioaccumulative contaminants in sport fish are a current concern in Lake Erie and other Great Lakes, potentially threatening human health and the viability and recreational value of the fishery resource. Researchers will study food web transport and loadings of the flame retardant polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE). PBDE is a chemical currently in use that is accumulating in Great Lakes fish at a faster rate than the banned polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and is similar to PCBs in chemical structure and effects on metabolic pathways in vertebrates. Although the United States is the largest user of PBDE in the world, there is no information on how the structure of food webs affects transport and bioaccumulation of PBDEs. Researchers will measure PBDE loadings at different food web levels in eastern Lake Erie; determine PBDE congener load in sport fish, forage fish, invertebrates, water and sediment; and use stable isotopes to determine food web position and trophic interactions among organisms.

Lake Ontario Coastal Initiative: Monitoring and Outreach on New York's North Coast

Grant recipient: Center for Environmental Information
Grant amount: $100,000

Lake Ontario has several zones of water of very different chemical, physical and biological properties. Though offshore waters are cleaner by most standards than they were thirty-five years ago, the nearshore waters (most heavily used for public water supply, cooling, recreation, waste disposal and tourism) remain in much the same condition. Founded in 2004, the Lake Ontario Coastal Initiative (LOCI) enlists and retains broad public commitment from New York State stakeholders for restoration, protection and conservation of the coastal region. It secures resources to advance scientific understanding, educate citizens, and implement supported priorities, programs, and projects. LOCI provides the context in which local remediation efforts can be seen as part of the larger effort to restore, protect and sustainably use Lake Ontario. This grant will support public participation, monitoring, research, community outreach, and watershed planning aspects of the ongoing LOCI effort.