Current Research

(Funding Agency)
Assessing the effects of climate-change-induced extreme events on water quality and ecology in the Great Lakes

(NSF Water Sustainability and Climate Program)

In the summer and fall of 2011, Lake Erie recreational businesses, residents and visitors discovered first-hand how a record-breaking algal bloom can impact sport fishing, swimming and other activities that contribute to the economic vitality of the region. The connection and feedbacks between the ecological health of Lake Erie, the physical climate, and the socio-economic framework are the central focus of this research project.

Project website:

Microcystin Toxicity to Mayfly Spp Larvae

(Lake Erie Protection Fund)

This project assesses biochemical stress responses including oxidative damage and changes in antioxidant defenses in Hexagenia as a function of microcystin (MC) exposure.

Toxicity of MCs to Hexagenia will be characterized by protein phosphatase activity, a target enzyme in MC toxicity, under controlled laboratory conditions of Hexagenia nymphs raised in standardized reference sediment (SRS) and SRS containing a concentration gradient of the MC- LR variant, the most toxic of the MC from Microcystis aerugenosa.

Microcystis is the most common cyanobacter found in Lake Erie blooms. We will measure levels of MC toxin in Lake Erie sediments during cyanobacteria blooms from their onset through decline and compare these measurements with body burdens in nymphs residing in these sediments.

The Honey Creek Targeted Watershed Program

(U.S. EPA Targeted Watershed Program)

This program launches implementation of the Sandusky River Watershed Coalition’s Honey Creek Watershed Action Plan.

Specific objectives of the grant:
(1) achieve a 25% reduction in phosphorus export from the watershed,(2) reduce by 50% the duration of time nitrate exceeds drinking water standards at the Melmore gaging station, and (3) improve stream habitats, hydrology and biota through the cumulative effects of upland erosion control, winter cover and buffer strips.

Partners in this project include:

(1) Crawford, Huron and Seneca Soil and Water Conservation Districts, (2) the University of Toledo

Continues through 2012

A Phosphorus Soil Test Metric for Reducing Dissolved Phosphorus Loads

(Great Lakes Protection Fund)

Vertically stratified soil testing will be used throughout the Sandusky River Watershed to identify fields with high surficial phosphorus soil tests. These fields will be targeted for best management practices aimed at reducing dissolved phosphorus loading to Lake Erie from agricultural watersheds.

The project team includes: extension and research staff from The Ohio State University, Michigan State University and the University of Wisconsin; state and federal agency staff, certified crop advisors; area farmers; soil testing laboratory scientists; soil and water district personnel; and agricultural organizations.

Continues through 2011

Tributary Loading Studies of the Tiffin River, the Blanchard River and Lost Creek

(Environmental Defense, Center for Conservation Incentives)

The NCWQR expands its tributary loading program to include studies for the Blanchard and Tiffin rivers and for a tributary to Lost Creek in Defiance County.

This monitoring data will be used to support and evaluate special programs launched by Environmental Defense to accelerate farmer utilization of U.S. Department of Agriculture Programs (Lake Erie CREP and EQIP) in the Maumee River Watershed.

Continues through 2010

Trends in Bioavailable Phosphorus Loading to Lake Erie

(Ohio Lake Erie Protection Fund)

In this project, samples from a sub-set of storm events in the Maumee R., Sandusky R., Cuyahoga R. and Honey Creek will be analyzed for additional forms of phosphorus to better characterize trends in bioavailable phosphorus loading to Lake Erie.

Concludes in 2008

Biological Assessment of Over-Wide Ditch Construction


Assess the water chemistry and aquatic invertebrate communities of McKibben Ditch and Riffle Creek, both tributaries of the Olentangy River, before and after construction of an "over-wide" ditch.
Extent of Hypoxia in Nearshore Areas of Lake Erie's Central Basin

(Ohio Sea Grant, Ohio Lake Erie Commission)

Measure shoreward intrusions of oxygen-depleted bottom water into shallow regions of the central basin during the period of summer thermal stratification. This information is expected to help explain the absence of Hexagenia mayflies, zebra and quagga mussels (Dreissenidae), and various other "clean-water" invertebrates from most of the shallow sedimentary areas of the basin.
Forecasting the Causes, Consequences, and Potential Solutions for Hypoxia in Lake Erie


Create, test, and apply models to forecast how anthropogenic (land use, invasive species) and natural (climatic variability) stresses influence hypoxia formation and ecology in Lake Erie, with an emphasis on fish production potential.

A major project involving colleagues at U. Michigan, NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, and several other institutions

Project website:

Pictorial Atlas of Aquatic Macroinvertebrates

(NOAA through ODNR Division of Wildlife)

Contribute multiple chapters of a pictorial atlas of the aquatic flora and fauna of the Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve and State Nature Preserve near Huron, Ohio: midges (Chironomidae), mayflies (Ephemeroptera), and dragonflies (Odonata), (Hemiptera), aquatic earthworms (Oligochaeta), and planktonic crustaceans (copepods and water fleas).
Intergovernmental Agricultural Modeling Project This project has the goal of linking small-scale field drainage models, specifically DRAINMOD, with larger basin-scale models such as AnnAGNPS (USDA) and GSSSHA (ACOE), which currently model tile drainage inadequately, if at all.
Land Use and Water Quality Trends in Rock Creek Watershed

(Seneca Co.,Ohio), 1982-2005:

Impact of Core-4 Conservation Practices


Assess trends in land use and water quality based on water quality data from NCWQR sampling station on Rock Creek; develop input datasets for AnnAGNPS land use/water quality model and use it to assess a wide range of management issues regarding placement of Best Management Practices in watersheds, interactions between practices, and time lag between installation of such practices and resulting water quality changes.
Quantifying Hydrological "Flashiness" Develop and evaluate an index of short-term fluctuations in river and stream flow, apply it to upper Midwest streams, evaluate resulting geographic patterns and temporal trends, and examine its use as a measure of hydromodification.

Publication: Baker et al. 2004. Journal of the American Water Resources Association.

SOP for Load Estimation for US EPA Region VIII Develop programs and instructions for calculating tributary loads, analyze states' nutrient data, and provide statistical assistance to states within Region VIII.

Publication: Estimation of Pollutant Loads in Rivers and Streams: A Guidance Document for NPS Programs

Lake Erie Tributary Loading Data: Access, Analysis, and Interpretation

(Lake Erie Protection Fund, Ohio; Lake Erie Commission; National Machinery)

The purpose of this project is to make the water quality data that the NCWQR has collected on Lake Erie Tributaries available on the Web in the form of Excel files. In addition, a User’s Guide to the data sets, in the form of a set of tutorials, will be produced to aid users in the analysis and interpretation of the data. An Excel Analysis Template will be provided to facilitate the production of various types of plots and summary reports. The website is now available.
Ohio Tributary Monitoring Program

(Ohio DNR)

Monitor 7 major Ohio tributaries for sediment and nutrient loads.
Ohio Lake Erie Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program

(Ohio DNR)

Operate station on Vermilion River, interpret progress of Ohio Lake Erie CREP program towards its water quality goals.
Sediment and Nutrient Concentrations in the River Raisin

(Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality)

Install and operate an autosampler-based monitoring station on the River Raisin at Monroe, in connection with the Michigan CREP.
Response of Macroinvertebrates to Dam Removal in a Lake Erie Tributary

(Ohio DNR)

As part of a larger collaborative study, document and interpret changes in macroinvertebrate communities of riffles and pools in the Sandusky River of Ohio upstream and downstream of an 85-year-old dam that was removed in 2003.
Pesticide monitoring in Lake Erie and Ohio River tributaries

(Syngenta Corp.)

Operate a detailed sampling program for current use pesticides in Ohio, and interpret the results in the contexts of ecological and human health risks.

Publication: Reports from the Ohio Tributary monitoring Program, 4.

Groundwater studies Operate a voluntary program for analysis of water from private wells and interpret the results in the contexts of water quality and human health risk assessment.