Full year seasonality of benthos in the nearshore of Lake Superior

Kirill Shchapov, Ted Ozersky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Relatively little is known about the full-year dynamics of benthic invertebrates in seasonally-freezing lakes. In this study, we describe the seasonal variability in benthic invertebrate abundance and coarse-level taxonomic composition across five nearshore locations in Lake Superior, with a focus on the winter period. We found that benthos abundances were relatively stable across the year, with similar winter (2294 ± 987 SD ind. m−2) and summer densities (2710 ± 1445 SD ind. m−2) across all stations. Community composition was also relatively stable across the year at our study stations, with Hexagenia sp., chironomids, and oligochaetes dominating our shallowest station (Duluth Harbor) and oligochaetes, Diporeia sp., and clams (Sphaeriidae) dominating deeper locations. Across all stations, diversity was similar across seasons, with the highest number of taxa observed in the fall (5.4 ± 1.8) and lowest number in the summer (4.5 ± 1.4). We found that the winter-spring period was an important time for the reproduction of the Lake Superior keystone amphipod Diporeia sp. Finally, we show that community structure was more variable across sites than across seasons. This is one of very few studies of winter benthos in the Great Lakes and suggests that benthic invertebrate communities show muted seasonal variability compared to planktonic organisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102314
JournalJournal of Great Lakes Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s)


  • Benthic macroinvertebrates
  • Lake Superior
  • Large lakes
  • Seasonality
  • Winter


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