Investigation of water quality trigger points for Didymo Blooms in the Saint Marys Rapids, Lake Superior
Department of Defense Dept. of the Army -- Corps of Engineers
I. Program Description A. Short Description of Funding Opportunity ERDC seeks applications for: a cooperative agreement to develop a collaborative water quality monitoring program for the purpose of identifying the physiochemical parameters that may cause the onset of Didymo blooms in the St. Marys River Rapids adjacent to the Soo Lock and Dam. Initial data from the program will be used by ERDC and the CESU institution to design and conduct laboratory and field tests aimed to control and/or manipulate Didymo growth. B. Background The St. Marys River hosts an economically important commercial salmonid fishery that is also culturally significant to the Bay Mills Indian Community. Didymo, a microscopic single-celled freshwater diatom that secretes a fibrous stalk which is used to attach to rocks and plants in rivers and streams, was discovered in the St. Marys Rapids near Sault Ste. Marie in 2015. There are growing concerns the species will directly impact commercially and recreationally important fisheries species within affected watersheds by limiting access to critical spawning habitat or creating recruitment bottlenecks for young-of-year fishes due to a reduction in important foraging habitat. Didymo is considered native to parts of Canada and Northern Europe and has recently become established in portions of the Great Lakes, but little is known about the environmental conditions that foster Didymo growth. C. Program Description/Objective: (brief description of the anticipated work) We propose the establishment of a multi-year collaborative water quality monitoring program to evaluate temporal trends in measured water quality parameters that may directly affect bloom time and productivity of invasive Didymo. This research effort will fill critical gaps in knowledge of Didymo growth cycles and inform other research questions targeted at control methods. Due to the complex nature of resolving ties between Didymo annual growth metrics and associated water quality conditions, we support a tiered research approach featuring an ERDC-based component and a local-based CESU component. The CESU institution represents a necessary and relevant research component to the overall project. The entity must illustrate (a) an extensive knowledge of the watershed; (b) a firm understanding of Didymo life history traits; (c) past research experience with Didymo; (d) prior analytical experience with testing ambient water samples for biologically relevant physiochemical parameters; and (e) experience with data interpretation and reporting biotic-physiochemical interactions in aquatic systems. As part of this collaborative effort, ERDC will obtain a continuous suite of basic water quality parameters (temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, pH, and turbidity) by deploying a single YSI EXO2 data sonde in the Saint Marys Rapids area adjacent to the Saint Marys Powerhouse and maintain the data sonde at the project area for a two-year period. In coordination with the continuous monitoring, the CESU organization will collect ambient water quality samples weekly (e.g., Monday) from a location near the deployed EXO2 unit. Ambient water quality sampling will be shifted to two samples per week (e.g., Monday, Thursday) prior to the anticipated onset of the bloom and maintained until after the optimal growing period (Table 1). Three replicate water samples will be obtained during each sampling event and are required to address variability in water quality conditions. Water samples will be obtained by the CESU institution in coordination with the USACE Soo L&D support staff, preserved according to prescribed laboratory specifications for processing. Each water sample will be assessed for Orthophosphate, Ammonium, Nitrate, Total Phosphorus and Total Nitrogen. In addition, the CESU institution will monitor the St. Marys Rapids area to track the progress of Didymo growth in conjunction with other Didymo research currently being conducted in the area. Failure to collect the samples concurrently with the continuous sonde data may result in the failure to capture important interactions between the physiochemical parameters and the nutrient concentrations. At the completion of each annual deployment, all water quality data (i.e., YSI data sonde, ambient water samples) will be compiled, integrated into a central database, and analyzed to evaluate water quality correlates with biological responses of Didymo (e.g., bloom time, density/abundance) within the project area during the sample period. During this phase, the collective knowledge and long-term experience with local conditions of the CESU institution is critically important in understanding proposed relationships between observed field conditions and measured water parameters. After two years of monitoring data have been collected, trends in the data will be used to develop several laboratory assays to detect important parameter thresholds that will be completed jointly by ERDC and the CESU institution. The CESU will collect Didymo samples from the St. Marys River for propagation and testing in the lab studies. The CESU will also integrate these data into ongoing research projects such as experimental stream studies. At the conclusion of the project, the CESU and ERDC will produce a report summarizing the progress made in understanding patterns in Didymo growth. Table 1. Schematic noting weekly ambient water quality sampling. Twice weekly sampling will be conducted prior to onset of bloom, during peak and optimal period (i.e., late May through early June) to bracket unseasonable shifts in climatic conditions. Month Samples Locations Replicates TOTAL JAN 4 1 3 12 FEB 4 1 3 12 MAR 8 1 3 24 APR 8 1 3 24 MAY 8 1 3 24 JUN 8 1 3 24 JUL 8 1 3 24 AUG 4 1 3 12 SEP 4 1 3 12 OCT 4 1 3 12 NOV 4 1 3 12 DEC 4 1 3 12 TOTAL 204 Water quality data acquired through the monitoring program will be used by ERDC and the CESU institution to design laboratory and field tests for evaluating Didymo growth control parameters. D. Public Benefit Unchecked Didymo growth in the St. Marys rapids threatens the salmonid fishery by reducing access to critical spawning grounds and rearing habitat. The salmonid fishery is an economically and recreational important resource in the region as well as an important cultural resource to the Bay Mills Indian Community. Identifying the environmental triggers for a Didymo bloom is the first step to developing control methods. At the end of each year of monitoring, ERDC and the CESU will produce a report summarizing the water quality of the St. Marys River Rapids. E. Authorization: 10 USC 4001 F. Legal Requirements Each Cooperative Agreement awarded under this announcement will be governed by 2 CFR 200, “Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards”, 2 CFR 1100 Subchapter D—Administrative Requirements Terms and Conditions for Cost-Type Grants and Cooperative Agreements to Nonprofit and Governmental Entities and the DoD research general terms and conditions located at https://www.nre.navy.mil/work-with-us/manage-your-award/manage-grant-award/grants-terms-conditions. G. Program-Specific Requirements Water sample data will be sent to ERDC every 2 months. ERDC and the CESU institution will analyze the data and produce a final report detailing how the water quality correlates with Didymo growth at the end of the project.
Categories: Science and Technology and other Research and Development.
Categories: Science and Technology and other Research and Development.