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Lake Ontario Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative

Photo of the Lake Guardian in port in Rochester, NY.
EPA's research vessel, the Lake Guardian, in port in Rochester,
NY. The Lake Guardian participates in CSMI assessments of
the Great Lakes. People from EPA, DEC, Cornell University,
Clarkson University, the University of Michigan, and other
organizations made up the 2013 Lake Ontario research crew.

Each year, U.S. and Canadian organizations assess one of the Great Lakes as part of the Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative (CSMI). Information collected during CSMI assessments supports Great Lakes management programs.

CSMI assessments took place in Lake Ontario in 2003, 2008 and 2013. The 2013 assessment focused on improving the understanding of nutrient loading, transport and cycling in Lake Ontario. The five primary research areas were:

  • amount of phosphorus and nitrogen entering the lake and how these nutrients move through the food web
  • biological connections between nearshore and offshore areas of the lake
  • phytoplankton and zooplankton population dynamics and use of nutrients in the lower food web
  • fish population changes, diets and distribution in different areas of the lake
  • transfer of nutrients and energy through the food web of the lake

The information collected in 2013 will inform management and research priorities such as nutrient loading and management; the role of invasive species; identifying energy pathways between offshore and nearshore habitats; and the ability of the lake to sustain its fisheries.

Lake Ontario CSMI Results

Collaboration is Key to the Success of CSMI

CSMI assessments require collaboration by many organizations. In total, 17 organizations contributed to Lake Ontario's 2013 CSMI assessment: DEC, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Environment Canada, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Fisheries & Oceans Canada, U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, Cornell University, University of Windsor, SUNY Buffalo State, University of Michigan, University at Buffalo -- SUNY, SUNY Brockport, Syracuse University, Bowling Green State University, Clarkson University, and University of Notre Dame.

Photographs from the 2013 CSMI Assessment

Photos from Lake Ontario's 2013 CSMI assessment (Note: Link leaves DEC's website) are available on DEC's Flickr account.