Too Little Phosphorus

GBF is partnering with CurrentCast to share information that they develop with other partners about water stewardship and sustainability in the Great Lakes and surrounding watersheds. CurrentCast is a project of the Center for Transformative Action based at Cornell University. CurrentCast content is owned by ChavoBart Digital Media, Inc. The Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future at Cornell University provides scientific content support and reviews all editorial idea for the initiative.
The lowdown on phosphorus levels…on this CurrentCast.

Mussels are great water filters, but too many can do more harm than good.

Phytoplankton is important to Georgian Bay

Picture above is phytoplankton (Euglena). Phytoplankton and zooplankton are the basis of the aquatic food chain.

Excess phosphorus is a problem in many parts of the great lakes. But in Saginaw bay, invasive mussels are removing so much that there’s not enough making its way to the deep waters of Lake Huron.

Craig Stow of the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab says when phosphorus levels are low…

Stow: “What you see is a decrease in productivity in the lake there’s less phytoplankton.”

Fewer phytoplankton means less food for small fish and ultimately larger fish too, like salmon and lake trout.

So while too much phosphorus is a problem, too little is also a low blow for the ecosystem.
CurrentCast is produced in partnership with Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, supported by New York’s Environmental Protection Fund and Sea Grant. Learn more online at

Listen to the podcast.

5 links on ecosystems and water quality:
  • Ecosystem Conservation tool: Project to catalogue all aquatic species in Georgian Bay. Learn more.
  • Improving water quality measurement. Learn more
  • Multiplying mussels. Learn more about invasive quagga mussels
  • Learn about Invasive species
  • Invasive species. What you can do