Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biological Sciences (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Biological Sciences


Nancy A Auer


An ability to predict population dynamics of the amphipod Diporeia is important in understanding how energy pathways in the Lake Superior food web might be altered by disturbances to the ecosystem. Estimating growth rates for this prominent prey item for fish requires information on the physiological effects of changes to its environment. These effects have been investigated for Diporeia in other Great Lakes, but little is known about Lake Superior populations. The primary objective of this study is to obtain quantitative data for rates of Diporeia respiration and consumption that can be incorporated into a bioenergetics model for Lake Superior. Benthic communities in Lake Superior were sampled bimonthly from April through September during 2011 and 2012 to investigate spatial and temporal trends of Diporeia abundances as well as size class structures of the population. Additional samples of Diporeia were collected and kept alive in natural sediment for laboratory experiments. Respiration rates for Diporeia were measured by monitoring dissolved oxygen concentrations in microcosoms using microelectrodes. Additionally, a series of experiments to estimate consumption rates based on food availability were conducted using 14C-labeled algae (Selenastrum capricornutum). Amphipod population densities are highest between 30-110 m (slope) compared to 0-30 m (shelf) or >110 m (profundal) regions in Lake Superior. This heterogeneous distribution of Diporeia in Lake Superior is an important component to quantifying lake-wide biomass. Rates of oxygen consumption by Diporeia range from 32.0 to 44.7 mgO2*gDW-1*d-1, and do not vary significantly with body size per individual. The predicted consumption rate corresponding to average Lake Superior algal carbon fluxes was 0.08 ± SE mgC*gDW-1*d-1. Data on Lake Superior Diporeia biomass and bioenergetics found in this study can be incorporated in a model used to estimate the viability of this population under potential future environmental stressors.

Included in

Biology Commons