Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Featured Research: by Brenda Moraska Lafrancois

Lafrancois et al. 2011. Links between type E botulism outbreaks, lake levels, and surface water temperatures in Lake Michigan, 1963-2008. J. Great Lakes Res. 37:86-91.

In response to a recent resurgence of type E botulism in the Great Lakes, Brenda Moraska Lafrancois and her colleagues evaluated long-term relationships between botulism outbreaks and large-scale environmental factors in Lake Michigan. The team found associations between avian botulism outbreaks and low water levels and high summer surface water temperatures. Notable outbreaks coincided with periods of high prey fish abundance (alewife in the 1960s, round gobies in the 2000s).

Given that climate change scenarios predict lower water levels and higher water temperatures in the Great Lakes region, this study suggests that the frequency and magnitude of type E botulism outbreaks may increase in the future.

Brenda is a regional aquatic ecologist with the National Park Service and is stationed in St. Croix, Minnesota. She received a BS from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a PhD in ecology from Colorado State University. Her current role is to advise on water resource issues in Great Lakes’ national parks, including nutrient enrichment, atmospheric contaminants, and aquatic invasive species.