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U-M Experts Available to Discuss Harmful Lake Erie Algal Blooms, Microcystin Toxin

Released: 4-Aug-2014 11:00 AM EDT
Source Newsroom: University of Michigan
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ANN ARBOR—The University of Michigan has experts available to discuss harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie and the detection of microcystin toxin in Toledo drinking water. They are:

Gary Fahnenstiel, research scientist at the U-M Water Center. Fahnenstiel has more than 35 years of experience working on algae in the Great Lakes and has published more than 150 scientific papers, including more than 10 papers on the causes and consequences of harmful algal blooms in the Great Lakes and specifically in Lake Erie and Saginaw Bay. Before joining U-M, he was a research scientist at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's Ann Arbor laboratory, where he led the NOAA/GLERL Harmful Algal Bloom Program in the Great Lakes.

"The resurgence of harmful algae blooms in western Lake Erie over the last decade or so is attributable to at least three factors. One is the flow of phosphorus from agricultural land. The other factors that are often overlooked are climate change and invasive mussels. Climate change and the quagga and zebra mussels have changed the way Lake Erie responds to the nutrients flowing into the lake from croplands. It's not simply a nutrient story. It's more complicated than that, and it's not going to be a trivial undertaking to get rid of these harmful algal blooms."

Fahnenstiel can be reached at (906) 395-1510 or

Don Scavia, aquatic ecologist and director of U-M's Graham Sustainability Institute. He is a member of the multi-institution team that issued a harmful algal bloom forecast for Lake Erie on July 10. The forecast called for a significant bloom of blue-green algae in Lake Erie this summer.

"Current satellite imagery shows a bloom of blue-green algae in the western end of Lake Erie's western basin. This algal bloom is the likely source of the microcystin toxin detected in Toledo water. These blooms usually don't peak until September, so in-lake conditions are likely to worsen over the next month."

Related links to recent U-M stories on the Lake Erie algal blooms:

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