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Lecture 10

Lecture 10 - Great Lakes & Environmental Concerns.pdf

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Earth Sciences
Luc Bernier

Great LakesEnvironmental Concerns1 Which of the following is a major target of the 2012 Great Lakes Water Agreement a Reduction in Phosphorus loadings b Reduction in Nitrogen loadings c Reduction in DDT loadings d Reduction in PCBs loadings Part 1The Great Lakes HabitatThe Great Lakes HabitatWhen the first Europeans arrived in the basin nearly 400 years ago they discovered a lush vegetated area o Forests consisting of oaks maples and other hardwoods dominated the southern areas o Only a very few small vestiges of the original forest remain today o Between the wooded areas were rich grasslands o In the north coniferous forests occupied the shallow sandy soils interspersed by bogs and other wetlandsThe forests and grasslands were the foundation of the trade between native people and European settlers o The forests and grasslands supported a wide variety of life such as moose in the wetlands and coniferous woods and deer in the grasslands and brush forests of the south o Many water ways and wetlands were home to the beaver and muskrat which with the fox and wolf were important for bearing species o These were trapped and traded as commodities by the native people and the Europeans Wetlandsthe Great LakesWetlands provide habitats for many kinds of plants and animals some of which are found nowhere else o Canvasback duck o They serve important roles to the overall health and maintenance of the great lakes ecosystem o For ducks geese and other migratory birds wetlands are the most important part of the migratory cycle providing food resting places and seasonal habitatsOf the 36 major species of Great Lakes fish at least 32 depend on coastal wetlands for their successful reproduction o Economically wetlands play a critical role in sustaining a productive fishery o In addition to providing a habitat for aquatic life wetlands prevent damage from erosion and flooding as well as controlling point and nonpoint source pollution Destruction of WetlandsOf the original wetlands of Southern Ontario 7080 have been lost Great LakesEnvironmental Concernso Rapid large scale clearing of land for agriculture urban uses shoreline development recreation and resource extraction mining since European settlement has brought massive changes to ecosystem o Losses of wetlands are particularly high in the southern portion of the basin o Of the original wetlands of southern Ontario 7080 have been lost o Estimates of losses in the US range between 4292Greater surface runoff has led to increased seasonal fluctuation in water levels o The destruction of wetlands has resulted in greater surface runoff which has led to increased seasonal fluctuation in water levels o There are now more flood prone lands along the waterwayso Because soils are washed away to the lakes tributaries are clogged and the flow of the rivers is altered Fish Biodiversity in the Great LakesThere were as many as 180 species of fish indigenous to the Great Lakes o Those inhabiting the near shore areas included smallmouth and largemouth bassmuskellunge northern pike and channel catfishBecause of the differences in the characteristics of the lakes species composition varied for each of the Lakes o In the open water were lake herring blue pike lakewhite fish freshwater drum lake trout and wide bass o Warm shallow Lake Erie was the most productive while deep Lake Superior was the least productive Decline of the FisheriesOverfishing and pollution have contributed to the decline of the fisheriesWetlands have also been filled inShoreline and stream fish habitats as well as spawning areas have been destroyedIn addition accidental and deliberate introduction of exotic species for instance the lampreys and zebra mussels have worsened the problem Deterioration in Water QualityBegan with modern settlement at first the impact was localized o The deterioration in water quality of the great lakes began with modern settlement but at first the impact was localized o Agricultural development forestry and urbanization caused the streams and shoreline marshes to selt up and harbour areas to become septic o Domestic and industrial waste discharges oil and chemical spills and the effect of mining left some parts of the water ways unfit for water supply and recreationEventually it took a major threat to the whole Great Lakes basin to awaken authorities o Waste treatment solutions were initially adapted to treat biological pollutants that threatened the immediate health of populations o In some jurisdiction regulations were passed to prevent dumping in the waterways
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