U-M will lead new partnership on Great Lakes biodiversity

June 27, 2024
Written By:
Anna Busse, Michigan News
Lake Superior Water. Image credit: iStock

The University of Michigan is the lead institution on a new $1.75 million project that will explore biodiversity in the Great Lakes.

A grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Integrated Ocean Observing System will establish a Great Lakes Biodiversity Observation Network to coordinate with and learn from biodiversity observation networks along the U.S. coasts and ocean waters and other BONs in ocean and freshwater habitats worldwide.

U-M will partner with NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, Oregon State University, the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission and the Great Lakes Observing System to assess habitat and biodiversity across a range of spatial and temporal scales.

A key innovation of the new network will be integration across multiple technological approaches, from high-throughput sequencing and bioinformatics to telemetry for fish populations and mapping large-scale biogeographic patterns measured by satellites.

Working closely with the Great Lakes Observing System, data from those approaches will be integrated to maximize interoperability of information, links with existing repositories and access to the information.

“Despite the importance of biodiversity in supporting ecosystem services in similar habitats worldwide, this relationship has not been explored within the Great Lakes,” said Casey Godwin, an associate research scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research. “There is urgency in monitoring biodiversity in the ocean and freshwater, particularly due to the continual changes due to both species loss and introductions.

“This urgency is similar to problems like climate change, invasive species and emerging contaminants. We are trying to simultaneously understand the underlying mechanisms, develop adequate observing systems to show us where we are currently, and project into the future or different management scenarios.”