Research conducted at Ohio State’s Stone Laboratory on Lake Erie, by Dr. Doug Kane, of Ashland University, and Justin Chaffin, a senior at Bowling Green State University, in summer 2006, sheds light on a possible new source of internal phosphorus loading – mayfly nymphs. This research is published in the latest issue of Twine Line , Ohio Sea Grant’s quarterly newsletter.
According to Kane’s and Chaffin’s research, mayfly nymphs, the immature stage of adult mayflies, can increase the amount of phosphorus in the water column to 26 times the average amount. The nymphs burrow into the sediment at the bottom of Lake Erie, causing the release of phosphorus, which stimulates algae growth and is an important factor in determining water quality.
Kane and Chaffin collected mayfly nymphs and sediment samples from the Lake’s western basin.After taking temperature, dissolved oxygen, water clarity, and phosphorus concentrations measurements, they found that the containers holding mayfly nymphs had total phosphorus concentrations two to three times greater than containers without nymphs.
Although this research found that mayfly nymphs are increasing phosphorus concentrations in Lake Erie, additional research is needed to discover the role mayflies may play in algal blooms and the dead zone.
Chaffin’s research was supported by the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Scholarship Program, funded by the Friends of Stone Laboratory. For more information on Chaffin’s research, contact him or read his Stone Lab blog. Dr. Doug Kane can be reached at email@example.com.
Stone Laboratory is The Ohio State University’s Island Campus on Lake Erie and the research facility for the Ohio Sea Grant College Program.
Jill Jentes Banicki
Ohio Sea Grant