Waterlife Annotated


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Timed presentation on Great Lakes Waterlife. I have permission to use all the images on the Waterlife PhotoGallery and in educational materials associated with the gallery (which this is). I've let loop in the background as an eye-catcher or used as a presentation for 5th graders.

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  • This is a timed presentation which I developed to use at water festivals (4-5 grade) and to run ‘in the background’ at exhibits and other public events. I typically narrate when it is the focus of the session, but often let it loop in the background un-narrated when we are doing other hands-on activities.
  • Just a quick ‘reminder’ for students who may have been studying ecosystems.
  • Lots of different kinds inhabit the Great Lakes, but they are limited to the shallow areas where light reaches the bottom. This photo is of macrophytes which have broken (as in a storm) and washed up on the beach. This ‘muck’ on the beaches is a problem in many parts of the Great Lakes.
  • Coontail (Ceratophyllum), milfoil (Myriophyllum), pondweed (Potamogeton) and wild celery (Valisneria)
  • 3 of the basic types of visible algae blooms. Surface scum (Microcystis), attached (Cladophora) and floating mats (Spirogyra)
  • Most of the algae are microscopic. Plankton blooms show a regular seasonal succession in the Great Lakes starting with the glass-shelled diatoms in the spring. Diatoms are limited by silica and quickly eaten by consumers once the water starts warming. In the summer we see lots of green algae. Most species of green algae are very edible – so they don’t last long. Blue-green algae are not very edible – many species are actually toxic. They are what is left once the consumers have eaten everything else. The blue-greens are temperature sensitive and disappear once the water starts cooling in the fall. Diatoms make a brief reappearance in the late fall once the predators start declining and water temperatures cool.
  • The glass shells of diatoms make them among the most beautiful of the algae. Here are just a few examples.
  • Lots of diversity in the green algae.
  • Blue-greens are generally smaller than the other types. They are actually bacteria with chlorophyll rather than true algae. If you have studied cells structure – blue-green algae, like bacteria, lack a nucleus and organelles. DNA and chorophyll are just floating around loose in their cells.
  • A really quick orientation to how the organisms we are about to see fit into the pyramid and orientation to the rest of the show (which is by size).
  • If your screen is about 6 foot across (standard projection) all the fish in the next set of slides are shown life-size. The gentle giant of the great lakes – the lake sturgeon is a detritovore. It’s like a vacuum cleaner eating all the stuff (live and dead) which is on the bottom.
  • Paddlefish were once native to the connecting channels of the Great Lakes. They are all gone now. We use the term extirpated rather than extinct because the species is still found in other places.
  • Here are the real ‘monsters’ of the Great Lakes. Muskellunge and northern pike (as well as their hybrid the tiger muskie) are very efficient top predators. They eat other fish, frogs and even small birds. They like shallower waters. Lake St. Claire has a world class muskellunge fishery.
  • All of these salmon were introduced to the Great Lakes by humans as a popular sport fish – they are not native. They are now common in the cold, deep waters of the Great Lakes and spawn in many Great Lakes tributaries. They are predators too.
  • Lake trout is the large predatory ‘salmonid’ native to the cold deep waters of the Great Lakes. They are doing well in most of the Great Lakes, though certain populations were decimated by the sea lamprey (more on that later).
  • Catfish are native to the connecting channels and rivers. They are a bottom feeder.
  • Sea lamprey are an invasive species – they entered the upper Great Lakes via the Welland Canal which was dug so that ships could get around Niagara Falls. Sea lamprey are parasites – and really too big for Great Lakes fish. Unlike a well-adapted parasites – they usually kill or significantly weaken their host. Check out the rasping teach they use to drill a hole into the side of the host lake trout (other fish too) to suck out blood and tissue.
  • Most people don’t know we also have native lamprey in the Great Lakes. They are smaller and weaker and won’t kill their host fish. Silvers aren’t parasitic at all – they prefer to eat detritus (dead stuff).
  • One of the most important commercial fish on the Great Lakes. Look for local caught whitefish in your supermarket and help support an important local industry!
  • Some of our weirdest native fish. American eels were once among the largest commercial fisheries on Lake Ontario, now they are endangered. American eels swim all the way to the Sargasso Sea to spawn and the young fish swim all the way back to the Great Lakes.
  • One of the most popular sport fish.
  • The Great Lakes are also home to warm-water predatory fishes. You find these fishes in the shallower waters and river mouths.
  • We have lots of sucker species – these are all bottom feeders. Do you notice a pattern as to where the mouth is located on bottom feeders? Suckers are mostly in the nearshore shallow waters and the connencting channels and tributaries.
  • Not a fish at all! Mudpuppies are a giant salamander (amphibian). See the fluffy red structure on the neck? Most salamanders only have these as juveniles (tadpoles) and lose these when they grow up, but mudpuppies keep their external gills their entire life.
  • If your screen was 5-6 foot before, stuff appeared life size. We are now magnifying so that animals filing the screen are about 1 foot long. If you are on a standard computer screen (about 1 foot across), the animals in the next set of slides are about life size.
  • Alewifes were accidentally introduced to the Great Lakes in the 1960s. They aren’t well adapted to the cold winters of the Great Lakes and will die in large numbers under the ice in winter or following a spring spawning. The result was so many dead fish on the beaches that they had to be removed with bulldozers. Not the exotic salon eat them (so we don’t get the big piles) and we have to manage them to keep the salmon going!
  • Here are the native forage fish (fish that are mainly valuable as food for the valuable sport and commercial predators). Some of these fish were found only in the Great Lakes – nowhere else in the world. The larger freshwater cisco were also fished commercially and vulnerable to sea lamprey. Many are now endangered and others are extirpated from all the lakes but Superior and others are extinct.
  • My favorite Great Lakes fish for catching and eating. Yellow perch are a warm-water fish found in the shallows and especially in Lake Erie!
  • Round goby are native to the Ponto-Caspian region – the same part of the world that zebra and quagga mussels are from. Their populations have exploded in the Great Lakes – they are bottom feeders and eat small mussels, snails, insects and fish eggs. They outcompete most of our native small bottom feeders.
  • Here are our native small bottom feeders.
  • We have many, many native darter and minnow species in the Great Lakes. Many are quite beautiful. You find different species in different parts of the lakes – shallow, surface, deep, rivers, rocky bottoms, mud bottoms, vegetation, etc.
  • Here’s an example of native crayfish. They rusty crayfish are moving northward from their home in the Ohio River valley and displacing the native species (which are smaller and less aggressive).
  • Pectinella magnifica is the largest of the bryozoans, which range down to millimeters in size. We get calls on a pretty regular basis about the ‘aliens’ which folks find along the shoreline. These are actually a colonial animal (like coral and sponges in the oceans).
  • We have sponges in the Great Lakes too! Freshwater sponge colonies are small, but really cool.
  • Native unionid clams. Native Great Lakes clams are really ‘mussels’ rather than true clams. We have a huge native diversity, but many of the species are becoming rarer and endangered – zebra mussels tend to cover them over and smother them.
  • Magnifying again. Animals filling the screen in the next set of slides are about two inches long – The photos are life size if you are looking at them on a cell-phone screen!
  • Zebra mussels are not native to the Great Lakes. They caused major changes to the Great Lakes which affected virtually every other organism in the entire food web.
  • Quagga mussels are a close relative of the zebra mussel. They are named for an extinct horse-like relative of the zebra called the quagga. Quagga mussels are replacing zebra mussels in most of the Great Lakes – they can survive much deeper and in a greater variety of habitats and cause all the same problems!
  • Another big non-native clam causing problems!
  • Native fingernail clams are smaller than all these exotics – the largest get to about an inch. More typically they are the size of your fingernail.
  • The largest snail in the Great Lakes isn’t native! There is a watch out on these and the very similar Japanese mystery snail – collect empty shells and report them if you see them. So far, they don’t seem to be causing much trouble, but they carry diseases in their native China.
  • Native snails are all much smaller. Do you think that may be a trend in Exotic vs native?
  • Malacostrans are a key link in the food web. They eat all the microscopic stuff and are very important fish food for small fish (and baby fish). We have a watch out on bloody-red shrimp too. Unlike most of our native malacostrans, they are big enough to compete with baby fish for food and are found in the same habitats (the native mysis relicta is larger, but it is found only in the cold deep water not the shallow nursery habitats.
  • More bryozoans – and a closeup so you can see the individual animals (3 in the cluster). They use those ‘feathers’ to filter out microscopic animals for food.
  • Like caterpillars to butterflies, many insects undergo a transformation – and in many cases the larvae or nymph (think caterpillar) is entirely aquatic. Mayfly (fishfly) nymphs spend years burrowed in the sediments deep underwater before emerging to live for just 3 days, mate and die. The adults don’t even have a mouth!
  • Both as nymphs and adults, dragonflies and damselflies are the ultimate predator. Among their adaptations is a spring-loaded lower jaw (the labium) complete with pinchers and claws which shoots out almost the length of the body to take prey by surprise. Dragonfly (but not damselfly) larvae are also jet propelled (shooting water out their abdomen) and adults can hover and turn instantly like a helicopter.
  • Stoneflies are common in rocky areas. They are a sigh of good water quality.
  • Caddisfly larvae build themselves little cases out of weeds or sand grains in which to live on the surface of the lake or stream bottom.
  • More aquatic insect larvae with adults you may have seen.
  • Some beetles are entirely aquatic. Others have aquatic larvae and terrestrial adults.
  • True bugs like water boatmen and water striders don’t transform, but are common inhabitants of the nearshore Great Lakes.
  • The caterpillars of some moths are entirely dependent on certain aquatic plants for their food.
  • Braconid wasps are well known as a ‘parasitic wasp’. Their larvae feed on the larvae of other insects, including some aqautic insects and aquatic insect larvae.
  • We have entire orders of aquatic ‘worms’ in the Great Lakes.
  • Magnifying again – I don’t think anybody is working on a screen this small – so these are ‘larger that life’ for all of you. The photos are all ‘microphotographs’ taken with a microscope. Mictophotography gets easier all the time! A lot of microscopes can attach to computers or video monitors so you can photograph the screen! If your school/classroom doesn’t have one – make it a priority. A decent quality student microscope with cables to connect to your classroom computer or monitor can be had for $50-$250. Quality field microscopes can be had for $40.
  • The largest native predatory cladocerans in the Great Lakes. Leptodora is a raptorial predatory which will attack animals larger than itself and shred them to eat them! It’s a good food for fish too though.
  • Spiny water fleas are also a raptorial predator. If you were a fish, would you want to eat this exotic?
  • If you include that spine, Cercopagis is the third largest cladoceran – and also a ‘raptor’. But not very edible – all spine and no nutrition.
  • Here’s the more typical native large water fleas. Most of these guys are algae grazers, though some also eat microzooplankton (more on those later). Note the exotic has the largest spine. What’s the advantage of that?
  • We also have freshwater hydra in the Great Lakes! Hydrozoans have a complicated life cycle switching between a hydra and jellyfish form – usually one form or the other is dominant for a particular species and the other is a reproductive form seen only briefly. These small hydra are the most typical in the Great Lakes, but we also see jellyfish occasionally.
  • Magnifying again – at 2 millimeters, the critters filling the screen for the next set of slides are on the border of what you can see without magnification (magnifying glass works for these, but a microscope is way better).
  • Oarsmen are the dominant ‘macrozooplankton’ of the open waters of the Great Lakes. Calanoids are consumers grazing on algae and bacteria (those long antennae are filters they use in feeding), cyclopoids are predators. Harpacticoids are a little understood group found on the bottom and on the macrophytes (remember those?) – they are detritivores. Copepods carry their eggs (you can see the eggs sacs on the cyclopod photo) until they hatch into Nauplii (juveniles – see above). Nauplii go through many stages gradually elongating and losing legs until they reach their adult form.
  • Both the large waterfleas (previous) and the small waterfleas (coming up) produce resting eggs.
  • Waterfleas aren’t fleas at all but microcrustaceans – relatives of shrimp and lobsters. Waterfleas and oarsmen collectively make up the ‘macrozooplankton’ (large free-floating animals). These small zooplankton occupy all areas of the Great Lakes.
  • Tardigrades are my favorite macrozooplankton – even though they aren’t all that common nor are they really true plankton (they prefer walking to floating). Can you see why they are called waterbears? They are limited to very specific habitats – those like wetlands and splash zones that cycle between wet and dry periods. Live sphagnum moss is a good place to look if you want to find waterbears. Waterbears shrivel up and hibernate (but don’t die) when their habitat dries out.
  • On to the microzooplankton. Critters filling the screen now are less than a half millimeter – to small to see without a microscope.
  • Rotifers or ‘wheel animals’ are the most common microzooplankton. They are a very diverse group. Most found in the plankton – like these – have shells. You can see the single eggs which are carried internally (upper left) or externally (bottom) until they are ready to hatch. Most rotifers are female – males are rare and entirely unknown for many species.
  • Its easier to see how the rotifers got their nickname ‘wheel animals’ looking at these soft-bodied rotifers which don’t have shells. You can see the wheel of cilia on the head (upper left) which the animals use in feeding. The shelled rotifers have the wheel too – its just hidden inside the shell. Soft-bodied rotifers are more common on the bottom, along plants and in algae mats. They can walk by telescoping their bodies and have less need for a shell because they have more places to hide in these environments.
  • Rare in the Great Lakes by cool. Gastrotrichs are an entirely separate group of animals.
  • Magnifying again. Filling the whole screen are animals 80 microns in size. You can fit about a dozen of them in a millimeter – several on the head of a pin!
  • Ciliates are protozoans. Unlike everything previous (except the algae way back at the beginning) these are single-celled animals. Ciliates are predators eating smaller protozoans, algae, and bacteria. They are very important for returning bacterial biomass back into the food chain. They too, have a lot of diversity. This Codonella attaches itself to algae filaments and lives in a little shell with just a few cilia sticking out to catch food.
  • Vorticella attach themselves via springs so they can jump out and catch prey.
  • Stylonicha is a free-swimming predator.
  • Stombilidium is the fastest animal on earth – in terms of relative speed. It can travel more than a hundred times its body length in less than a second – despite the fact that at its size water has a relative viscosity closer to molasses for you. How long does it take you to run 100 times your body length?
  • Heliozoa are also protozoa (single-celled animals). They use those long spines to walk and to spear prey.
  • Amoebas are also single-celled animals. They are hard to study because they tend to be fragile.
  • Some amoebas grow shells for protection. Testate (shelled) amoebas are common in the spaces between sand grains along beaches.
  • Flagellates are another type of protozoa. They can be solitary, gregarious (simply like being together) or form actual colonies in which the cells cooperate.
  • Some protozoa cross the line between animals plants. Some types of green and golden algae have chloroplasts and photosynthsize (like plants) but also have a flagella and a gullet so they can swim and eat other plants, animals and bacteria more like animals.
  • Magnifying again gets us into the realm of some of the smallest organisms on earth. At 1-10 microns, you can fits hundreds to thousands of these organisms on the head of a pin. Some viruses are small enough that they specialize in attacking bacteria.
  • Pictures and facts about all of these Great Lakes citters and many, many more! Plus keys, web links and other resources for those who want to know more!
  • Waterlife Annotated

    1. 1. Great Lakes Water Life <ul><li>Dr. Rochelle Sturtevant </li></ul><ul><li>NOAA </li></ul><ul><li>Great Lakes Sea Grant Network </li></ul><ul><li>Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory </li></ul><ul><li>October 20, 2008 </li></ul>
    2. 2. Ecosystem: The community of living organisms and their non-living environment Meet some of the players…
    3. 3. … the non-living parts <ul><li>Water </li></ul><ul><li>Minerals/nutrients </li></ul><ul><li>Sunlight </li></ul>
    4. 4. Macrophytes (water plants)
    5. 5. A quick look at some macrophytes
    6. 6. Algae
    7. 8. Diatoms
    8. 9. Green Algae
    9. 10. Blue-Green Algae
    10. 11. Higher levels of the food web all get their energy by eating plants (herbivores) or each other (carnivores) or dead stuff (detritivores) Let’s start with the largest and work our way down
    11. 12. Lake Sturgeon (to 6 foot)
    12. 13. Paddlefish (to 4 and a half foot) EXTIRPATED FROM GREAT LAKES!!
    13. 14. Muskellunge (Record >5 foot) Northern Pike (to 4 foot)
    14. 15. Coho salmon (to 3 and 1/2 foot) Exotic Salmon Chinook salmon (to 3 and a half foot) Steelhead trout (to 3 foot) Sockeye salmon (to 18 inches) Pink salmon (to 4 foot)
    15. 16. Lake trout (to 2 and a half foot)
    16. 17. Flathead catfish (to 3 foot)
    17. 18. Sea lamprey (to 3 foot) INVASIVE!!
    18. 19. Native lamprey (to 12 inches) American Brook Chestnut Northern brook Silver
    19. 20. Lake Whitefish (to 2 foot)
    20. 21. Burbot (to 2 and a half foot) Bowfin (to 3 foot) American eel (females to 5 foot) (males to 1 and a half foot)
    21. 22. Walleye (to 2 foot … record 33 inches)
    22. 23. Black crappie (to 16 inches) Largemouth bass (to 2 foot) Smallmouth bass (to 2 foot) White crappie (to 16 inches)
    23. 24. Suckers (most to 2 foot) Bigmouth buffalo Greater redhorse Northern hogsucker Quillback
    24. 25. Mudpuppy
    25. 26. Let’s Magnify! (x5) 5 foot => 1 foot
    26. 27. Alewive (~ 10 inches) EXOTIC!
    27. 28. (10 inches) Extinct!
    28. 29. Yellow perch (to 1 foot)
    29. 30. Round goby Exotic!
    30. 31. Brook stickleback (to 3 inches) Threespine stickleback (to 4 inches) Deepwater sculpin (to 6 inches) Slimy sculpin (to 4 inches) Troutperch (to 5 inches)
    31. 32. Darters (most to 3 inches) Greenside darter Rainbow darter Iowa darter Channel darter Logperch Orange-throat darter
    32. 33. Minnows Brassy minnow Common shiner Spottail shiner Emerald shiner Northern redbelly dace Bullhead minnow Pirate perch Redside dace
    33. 34. Northern crayfish Rusty crayfish Exotic!
    34. 35. Bryozoans Pectinella magnifica can exceed 2 feet in diameter, though most bryozoans are under 1 foot
    35. 36. Typically a few inches in size, freshwater sponge colonies can reach more than 1 foot
    36. 37. Native Unionid Clams Mapleleaf Fawnsfoot Rainbow shell Round pigtoe Black sandshell
    37. 38. Let’s Magnify! (x5) 1 foot => 2 inches
    38. 39. Zebra mussel (1 and a half inches) Exotic!!
    39. 40. Quagga mussel (1 and a half inches) Exotic!!
    40. 41. Asian Clam (to 2 inches) Exotic!!
    41. 42. Fingernail clams to 1 inch
    42. 43. Chinese Mystery Snail ( Exotic )
    43. 44. Native Snails Sharphorn snail Brown mystery snail Big-eared radix Physids 3-ridge valve snail Storm hydrolabe Creeping freshwater limpet Buffalo pebblesnail
    44. 45. Malacostrans (shrimp and scuds) Diporeia Hyalella Echinogammarus Gammarus Bloody-red shrimp Exotic!
    45. 46. Bryozoans Lophodella carteri closeup
    46. 47. Mayflies Adult Nymph
    47. 48. Dragonflies and Damselflies Adult More than 230 species in the Great Lakes region Nymphs
    48. 49. Stoneflies Adult Nymph
    49. 50. Caddisflies Adult Larvae
    50. 51. Alderflies and spongilliflies Adult Larvae
    51. 52. Flies, midges and mosquitos Adult Larvae
    52. 53. Beetles Adult Larvae
    53. 54. Waterbugs Adult water boatman Water strider nymphs
    54. 55. Dagger and snout moths Larvae in a reed stem Adult
    55. 56. Braconid wasps Adult Larvae feeding on a caterpillar
    56. 57. Leech Polychaete Oligochaete Roundworm Ribbon worm Flatworm Horsehair worm
    57. 58. Let’s magnify! (x5) 2 inches =>0.4 inches (1 centimeter)
    58. 59. Leptodora
    59. 60. Spiny waterflea Exotic!
    60. 61. Fishhook waterflea Exotic!
    61. 62. Large Waterfleas Daphnia galeata Daphnia lumholtzi Exotic! Daphnia pulex Simocephalus serrulatus
    62. 64. Let’s magnify! (x5) 1 centimeter => 2 mm
    63. 65. Copepods (Oarsmen) Calanoid Grazers Cyclopoid Predators Harpacticoid Benthic Nauplii Juvenile
    64. 66. Resting Egg and Juvenile Waterflea Resting eggs can survive decades, even centuries until conditions are right for hatching!
    65. 67. Small waterfleas
    66. 68. Tardigrades (waterbears) Tardigrades can spread a 18 month lifespan (not counting ‘hibernation’) over 60 years!
    67. 69. Let’s magnify! (x5) 2 mm=>0.4mm (400 microns)
    68. 70. Rotifers
    69. 71. Soft-bodied rotifers
    70. 72. Gastrotrichs
    71. 73. Let’s magnify! (x5) 400 microns => 80 microns
    72. 74. Ciliates Codonella
    73. 75. Vorticella
    74. 76. Stylonichia
    75. 77. Strombilidium The fastest animal on earth?
    76. 78. Heliozoa (sun animals)
    77. 79. Amoeba Can you see the diatoms it has eaten?
    78. 80. Difflugia
    79. 81. Testate amoeba (peeking out of its shell)
    80. 82. Flagellates Salpingoeca sp. attached to a diatom
    81. 83. Protozoa Photosynthetic Flagellates Lepocinclis
    82. 84. Algae, Nanoplankton, Picoplankton, Bacteria and Viruses Spring viremia of carp virus Bacteria – 1 microns Aphanizomenon, a blue-green algae Aphanocapsa
    83. 85. Great Lakes Waterlife <ul><li>The Great Lakes are home to: </li></ul><ul><li>More than 190 species of fish </li></ul><ul><li>More than 100 species of clams & snails </li></ul><ul><li>More than 200 genera of insects </li></ul><ul><li>More than 60 genera of ‘worms’ </li></ul><ul><li>About 100 species of macrozooplankton </li></ul><ul><li>About 275 species of rotifers </li></ul><ul><li>More than 350 genera of algae </li></ul>
    84. 86. Learn More: <ul><li>http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/seagrant/GLWL/GLWLife.html </li></ul>