Research Task Groups

We are now accepting proposals for planning grants.

The grants are accepted on a quarterly basis. The next deadline is July 1, 2009. For more details on this opportunity, click here.

GLRC Research Task Groups

A research task group is a collection of scientists from different institutions with a joint interest in addressing a large multidisciplinary problem. These groups may work together to prepare and submit grant proposals, or may be assembled after the fact to address a specific issue at the request of a granting/governmental agency. For more information about joining any of these task forces, contact the GLRC at

Currently GLRC has the following task groups:

Great Lakes Aquatic Community Pathogens Task Group

Our mission is to design and execute novel multi-disciplinary research by integrating multiple levels of inference from the molecular to the landscape scales with a focus on pathogen dynamics within - and impacts to - the fish community of the Great Lakes Basin.  Currently, this group is focused on whole community impacts associated with the recently introduced viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV).  We intend to assess the association of invasive species with the maintenance and movement of VHSV through focused study in the St. Lawrence River as well as broader basin-wide surveillance and data analyses.  By integrating varied powerful analyses we hope to elucidate specific effects of pathogens while potentially identifying broadly applicable epidemiological patterns and mechanisms.   

Develop and support an Ocean and Great Lakes Health Index.

Jeff Herter, New York State Deptartment of State
Greg Boyer, SUNY-ESF
Burrell Montz, Binghamton University

Ecosystem health indices are developed by combining human activities with ecosystem characterizations to give an overall pictre of health for each particular ecosystem.  An ecosystem health index can demonstrate cumulative impacts of human activities on Great Lakes and ocean ecosystems, an ecosystem health index for New York’s ocean and Great Lakes will allow citizens the ability to see how our marine and aquatc ecosystems change over time.     This group will focus on mapping ecosystems: in order to understand the spatial impact of human activities including the mapping the footprint of human activities.  This information will be used to assess ecosystem vulnerability to human activity.  In some cases, a human activity will have little to no impact on an ecosystem, while in other cases the impact will be profound.  Once the impact of each activity on each ecosystem is known and mapped, the spatial overlap of these impacts of these impacts can be accounted for and the cumulative (i.e. total) impact of all activities on all ecosystems at a location derived.     Additional information on this working group is available in the linked pdf file, by contacting GLRC at, or by contacting Jeff Herter ( at NY DOS.

Harmful Algal Blooms in the Lower Great Lakes

Greg Boyer, SUNY-ESF
Joe Makarewicz, SUNY-Brockport
Joe Atkinson, SUNY-Buffalo
Tim Mihuc, SUNY Plattsburgh
Steven Wilhelm
, University of Tennessee
Sue Watson, Environment Canada

In the last decade, increased stress on the lower two Great Lakes (Lake Erie and Lake Ontario) and its nearby neighbor Lake Champlain from invasive species and increasing nutrients has resulted in massive cyanobacterial blooms. While not all blooms are toxic, recent research results suggest that the potential for toxin production is present in a majority of blooms. If the responsive species does produce a toxin, then these blooms can dramatically impact both the recreational use and the ability to use the lake as water supplies. Sampling blooms in these large lakes is often problematic due to their size and may require oceanographic-type techniques. This group is dedicated to both evaluating the extent of the problem, developing monitoring strategies and dessiminating knowledge about harmful algae blooms to end users. This group is an outshoot of an earlier GLRC-support effort entitled "MERHAB-LGL; Monitoring for Harmful Algal Blooms in the Lower Great Lakes" ( New members interested in contributing to this effort are always welcome.

Implementation of the Great Lakes Observing System

James Bonner, Clarkson University
Greg Boyer, SUNY-ESF
Joe Atkinson, University of Buffalo

The Great Lakes Observing System is one of the regional associations of the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS).  The objectives of IOOS are to (1) facilitate safe and efficient maritime operations, (2) mitigate effects of natural hazards, (3) improve prediction of climate variability, (4) reduce public health risks, (5) improve national security, (6) sustain and restore living resources, and (7) preserve and restore healthy ecosystems.   It seeks to do this through an integrated network of satellite, buoy, ship-board, and fixed sensors and monitoring systems for the open lakes, nearshore environments and interconnecting waterways.  These measurements will be used to develop ecological forecast and mass balance models for the Great Lakes Ecosystems.  GLOS is only now expanding into the upper Saint Lawrence River ecosystem and coastal Lake Ontario.    This working group will deal with issues such as how to deploy and maintain the buoy and sensor networks in these system, as well as issues dealing with data handling, reduction and its eventual distribution to the end user.

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