Major shift in the phenology of crustacean biomass in western Lake Superior associated with temperature anomaly

Matthew B. Pawlowski, Donn K Branstrator, Thomas R Hrabik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Variable weather patterns during the early months of 2014 and 2015 resulted in differences between years in spring and summer surface water temperatures in the offshore areas of western Lake Superior. Zooplankton were collected in western Lake Superior during several cruises from late spring to early fall in 2014 and 2015 to test the hypotheses that colder summer water temperatures in 2014 were correlated with reduced zooplankton biomass, later peaks in zooplankton biomass, and a smaller contribution of warm-water taxa to the zooplankton assemblage. The total amount of zooplankton biomass from early June through early October did not differ greatly between years. Of the taxonomic subcategories (large-bodied calanoids, small-bodied calanoids, cyclopoids, nauplii, and herbivorous cladocerans) however, cyclopoid and cladoceran biomass was somewhat smaller in 2014 compared to 2015, providing some support for the hypothesis that warm-water taxa contribute less to offshore zooplankton biomass in colder years. The timing of peak biomass for cladocerans, small-bodied calanoids, and cyclopoids did not differ between years, but peaks in the biomass of copepod nauplii and large-bodied calanoids (primarily Limnocalanus macrurus) occurred several weeks later in 2014 than 2015 which was evidence for phenological delay during a year with unusually cold spring and summer surface water temperatures. Though this study only evaluates the role of temperature in driving zooplankton biomass and phenology in Lake Superior, it does provide insight into the potential effects of climate variability on the Lake Superior food web.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)788-797
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Great Lakes Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • Climate change response
  • Lake Superior
  • Limnocalanus macrurus
  • Phenology
  • Zooplankton

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