Removing tiny shrimp may help climate-proof Lake Tahoe's clarity

phys.org | 5/24/2019 | Staff
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Lake Tahoe, with its iconic blue waters straddling the borders of Nevada and California, continues to face a litany of threats related to climate change. But a promising new project to remove tiny, invasive shrimp could be a big step toward climate-proofing its famed lake clarity.

That's according to the annual Tahoe: State of the Lake report, released today by the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center. The report presents data from 2018 regarding lake clarity, temperature, snowpack, invasive species, algae, nutrient loads and more, all in the context of the long-term record.

Billions - Mysis - Shrimp - 1960s - Lake

Billions of invasive Mysis shrimp, introduced in the 1960s, live in Lake Tahoe, where they eat native zooplankton that historically helped keep the lake blue and clear while also serving as a food source for native fish. UC Davis TERC researchers found that when Mysis shrimp mysteriously disappeared from Emerald Bay in 2011, native zooplankton rebounded almost immediately. Within two years, clarity had increased by almost 40 feet. The reverse effect occurred when the Mysis returned.

TERC is now halfway into a two-year pilot project, with many late nights trawling for shrimp, to find an effective means of removing enough Mysis shrimp to improve lake clarity indefinitely.

Climate - Change - Shrimp - Clarity - Improves

"Even with climate change, we're finding that if you get rid of the shrimp, clarity improves," said Geoffrey Schladow, director of UC Davis TERC and a professor in the College of Engineering. "Their removal allows for the return of native zooplankton, which have the ability to consume both tiny algae and fine clay particles that have reduced clarity in the past. That is huge."

Clarity improved dramatically in 2018 to 70.9 feet, thanks to a return to more normal weather and streamflow conditions. This represents a 10.5-foot increase over the 2017 value, but is still far short of the clarity restoration target of 97.4...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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