In the last few years, LEA has augmented our traditional lake sampling program to incorporate new and advanced tests and monitoring techniques. These new initiatives are a result of knowledge gained from partnerships that we have developed while working towards the Maine Lake Science Center. Below is a brief summary of some these recent initiatives. For more details about these specific projects, please check out our current water testing reports page.
Gloeotrichia echinulata is a type of cyanobacteria that dominates some low-nutrient lake systems in late July and early August. It is able to thrive despite low nutrient levels because it collects phosphorus from sediments before entering the water column. Dr. Holly Ewing of Bates College in Lewiston, Maine is a leading Gloeotrichia researcher who collaborated on much of this research in the Lakes Region.
Temperature is one of the most fundamental and important characteristics of a lake ecosystem. Tremendous amounts of temperature data have been collected in several lakes using automated temperature sensors. Sensors are attached to floating line at the deepest part of the lake, each collecting readings at a discrete depth every fifteen minutes throughout the spring, summer, and fall. The guidance of Dr. Dan Buckley of the University of Maine in Farmington was essential in the development of this project.
Algae are the basis of lake food webs. These microscopic plants can tell us a great deal about how a lake is functioning. Through assistance from the Portland Water District and the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, we have developed an algae monitoring program that identifies and counts each algae present in pelagic water samples.
Highland Lake is home to an automated water testing buoy, which measures temperature, oxygen, clarity, and chlorophyll levels every 15 minutes at the lake’s deepest point. The buoy is part of the Global Lake Ecology Observation Network (GLEON) network, a collection of lake monitoring sites located all over the world. Dr. Whitney King of Colby College has been instrumental to this project through his support and guidance.
In August 2016, Lakes Environmental Association staff installed another GLEON remote sensing buoy in the North basin of Long Lake off Lakeside Pines Campground. This new buoy is the second to be deployed by LEA in an effort to gather significant data and better understand how vulnerable our lakes are to algae blooms.
Sediment chemistry, in particular aluminum to iron and aluminum to phosphorus ratios, can predict whether or not a lake will experience internal phosphorus recycling. This detrimental process releases stored phosphorus from sediments, fueling algae growth and creating a destructive positive feedback loop in lakes with hypolimnetic oxygen depletion. Drs. Stephen Norton and Aria Amirbahman of the University of Maine, Orono (UMO) were part of the group of researchers who first discovered this phenomenon. In 2013, LEA sampled sediment from many of our lakes and had it run at the UMO’s Sawyer Lab under the guidance of Dr. Jasmine Saros. Results from several lakes in the Lakes Region collected in 2013 have been included in research soon to be published by Amirbahman and Norton.
Highland Lake and Long Lake were the subjects of a paleolimnological sediment study in 2014. This study analyzed changes in the sediment diatom record going back about 400 years. Analysis was carried out through a collaboration with Dr. Jasmine Saros and researchers from the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine, Orono.