alert

OU researchers find drastic decrease in mayfly populations in Upper Mississippi River, Western Lake Erie basins

  • 0
  • 1 min to read
mayfly

OU researchers found a significant decrease in mayfly populations in the Upper Mississippi River and Western Lake Erie basins, which could pose danger to the surrounding ecosystems.

OU researchers found a dramatic decrease in mayfly populations in the Upper Mississippi River and Western Lake Erie basins.

A study conducted by researchers from OU, the University of Notre Dame and Virginia Tech to characterize the size of mayfly swarms found that the number of mayflies in their natural habitats has dropped significantly, according to a press release

“Using radar-derived measurements of annual mayfly production, we found that abundance has dropped by over 50 percent within these two waterways,” said Phillip Stepanian, the study’s lead author, in a Twitter thread. “It is likely due to multiple interacting stressors affecting aquatic habitat quality.”

Stepanian, a research associate professor from Notre Dame, has conducted the study with his colleagues in these two locations over the past eight years, according to the release. 

The study’s co-authors include Jeffrey Kelly from OU, Sally Entrekin from Virginia Tech and Jennifer Tank from the University of Notre Dame.

Entrekin said a decreasing mayfly population poses danger to the surrounding ecosystem — most notably, a decline in food resources for organisms higher on the food chain. 

“This single pulse represents an influx of 12 trillion calories to the terrestrial ecosystem. ... That would be equivalent to a Twinkie 145 feet long, weighing approximately 7.5 million pounds,” Stepanian said in a tweet.

Another threat to the surrounding area is that there would be less nitrogen, carbon and phosphorous export from water to land animals, Entrekin said. 

If there is a population decline in the lake, there are likely declines in the tributaries from the same or similar environmental changes,” Entrekin said.

Support independent journalism serving OU

Do you appreciate the work we do as the only independent media outlet dedicated to serving OU students, faculty, staff and alumni on campus and around the world for more than 100 years?

Then consider helping fund our endeavors. Around the world, communities are grappling with what journalism is worth and how to fund the civic good that robust news organizations can generate. We believe The OU Daily and Crimson Quarterly magazine provide real value to this community both now by covering OU, and tomorrow by helping launch the careers of media professionals.

If you’re able, please SUPPORT US TODAY FOR AS LITTLE AS $1. You can make a one-time donation or a recurring pledge.

Load comments