Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2020ME092G

Using paleolimnological and sedDNA reconstructions to assess links between warmer winters and summer cyanoHABs in Maine’s lakes

Institute: Maine
USGS Grant Number:
Year Established: 2020 Start Date: 2020-09-01 End Date: 2023-08-31
Total Federal Funds: $114,080 Total Non-Federal Funds: $116,026

Principal Investigators: Jasmine Saros

Abstract: The primary goal of the proposed work is to improve understanding of links between warming winters and summer cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (cyanoHABs), particularly of the dynamics of Gloeotrichia given its widespread distribution across lakes of varying trophic states in Maine. Sedimentary algal pigments and environmental DNA (eDNA) will be quantified at decadal resolution across 12 lakes in the state. Specifically, we propose to investigate: 1) how interactive effects of trophic state and climate have broadly altered cyanobacterial occurrence in Maine lakes over the past 125 years; b) how decades with warmer winters have affected cyanoHAB occurrence, particularly Gloeotrichia, in Maine lakes over the past 125 years; c) how this relates to broader cyanobacterial diversity and cyanoHAB dominance through time. This proposed project capitalizes on the unique climate setting of Maine, with lakes situated across three climate zones and the state experiencing some of the most marked winter warming in the country. Project objectives include: a) informing federal, state, municipal and non-profit lake resource and recreation managers of these results so they can better anticipate and plan for summers at higher risk of cyanoHAB blooms; b) providing a model approach that can be adapted by other states and be tailored to investigate additional potential drivers of cyanoHABs; b) training one doctoral student and two undergraduate students in new, interdisciplinary approaches in the study of cyanoHABs in lake ecosystems; d) demonstrating field-based eDNA extractions and quantitative PCR to stakeholders, members of the general public and citizen scientists who will generate water column data that will be linked to sediment data. This project will also leverage newly developed capacity in eDNA approaches, including sediment DNA (sedDNA) capacity, from a NSF EPSCoR grant involving project PIs; the graduate and undergraduate students on this proposed project would participate in new training opportunities developed as part of the EPSCoR and would be trained in a cohort of students learning various eDNA approaches. With the knowledge of whether cyanoHABs respond to warmer winters, federal, state, municipal, and non-profit lake management agencies dealing with the growing cyanoHAB problem in the Northeast can better anticipate summer conditions based on winter conditions and modify management plans as needed.