Why study the Lake Erie Food Web?
Understanding this food web is important for protecting key populations from overfishing, global warming, habitat destruction and other problems that could result in food scarcities and extinction.
Food webs distinguish levels of producers and consumers by identifying and defining the importance of animal relationships and food sources, beginning with primary producers such as plants, insects and herbivores. Each organism above is connected to and depends on others for food. Too much production or consumption of any of the
producers or consumers disrupts this balance. Knowing how these species interrelate is critical for understanding how natural and manmade environmental pressures
affect ecosystems. Invasive species and destructive pollution (toxic chemicals such as PCBs, DDT, mercury, and selenium) can break or alter the food chain. Nutrient pollution can shift whole ecosystems toward nutrient-hungry species. When crop fertilizers, sewage and animal waste escape into lakes and streams, they can cause massive algae blooms at the expense of fish and other species.
In coming weeks you can learn more about challenges to the Lake Erie Food Web as well as what you can do and what others are doing to protect this important ecosystem. — Anna McCartney