Global Change Ecology


There are many human-driven stressors that act on aquatic ecosystems (e.g. climate change, invasive species, hypoxia). Determining the impact of any one stressor is challenging because these many stressors often act simultaneously within an ecosystem, and can have both direct and indirect impacts that vary across time and space. This challenge in identifying the impacts of human-driven stressors hampers our ability to develop ecosystem protection and management strategies.

To study global change ecology at the Ludsin Lab, we use integrative, multidisciplinary research approaches to increase our understanding of how climate change, nutrient pollution, land-use change, and invasive species can act independently and interactively to structure aquatic ecosystems. We then use what we learn to provide recommendations on how to protect aquatic ecosystems and manage them to maintain their valued services (e.g. fisheries, safe drinking water).

Selected Projects

Retrospective analysis of the causes and consequences of Lake Erie ecosystem change

Western Lake Erie basin conservation assessment project (CEAP)

Regulation of phenotypic expression and reproductive performance by climate warming and hypoxia

Impacts of Great Lakes harmful algal blooms (HABs) on public health

Selected Refereed Publications

  1. Glaspie, C.N, M. Clouse, K.B. Huebert, S.A. Ludsin, D.M. Mason, J.J. Pierson, M.R. Roman, and S.B. Brandt. 2019. Fish diet shifts associated with the Northern Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone. Estuaries and Coasts 42:2170-2183.
  2. Glaspie, C.N, M. Clouse, A.T. Adamack, Y. Cha, S.A. Ludsin, D.M. Mason, M.R. Roman, C.A. Stow, and S.B. Brandt. 2018. Effect of hypoxia on diet of Atlantic bumpers in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 147: 740-748.
  3. Collingsworth, P.D., D.B. Bunnell, M.W. Murray, Y.C. Kao, Z.S. Feiner, R.M. Claramunt, B.M. Lofgren, T.O. Höök, and S.A. Ludsin. 2017. Climate change as a long-term stressor for the fisheries of the Laurentian Great Lakes of North America. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 27:363–391.
  4. Culbertson, A., J.F. Martin, N. Aloysius, and S.A. Ludsin. 2016. Anticipated impacts of climate change on 21st century Maumee River discharge and nutrient loads. Journal of Great Lakes Research 42:1332-1342.
  5. Keitzer, S.C., S.A. Ludsin, S.P. Sowa, G. Annis, J.G. Arnold, P. Daggupati, A.M. Froehlich, M.E. Herbert, M.V. Johnson, A.M. Sasson, H. Yen, M.J. White, and C.A. Rewa. 2016. Thinking outside of the lake: Can controls on nutrient inputs into Lake Erie benefit stream conservation in its watershed? Journal of Great Lakes Research 42:1322-1331.
  6. Lauber, T.B., R.C. Stedman, N.A. Connelly, L.G. Rudstam, R.C. Ready, G.L. Poe, D.B. Bunnell, T.O. Höök, M.A. Koops, S.A. Ludsin, and E.S. Rutherford. 2016. Using scenarios to assess possible future impacts of invasive species in the Laurentian Great Lakes. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 36:1292-1307.
  7. Watson, S.B., C. Miller, G. Arhonditsis , G.L. Boyer, W. Carmichael, M.N. Charlton, R. Confesor, D.C. Depew, T.O. Höök, S.A. Ludsin, G. Matisoff, S.P. McElmurry, M.W. Murray, P. Richards, Y.R. Rao, M.M. Steffen, and S.W. Wilhelm. 2016. The re-eutrophication of Lake Erie: harmful algal blooms and hypoxia. Harmful Algae 56:44–66.
  8. Farmer, T.M, E.A. Marschall, K. Dabrowski, and S.A. Ludsin. 2015. Short winters threaten temperate fish populations. Nature Communications 6:7724.
  9. Scavia, D., J.D. Allan, K.K. Arend, S. Bartell, D. Beletsky, N.S. Bosch, S.B. Brandt, R.D. Briland, I. Daloğlu, J.V. DePinto, D.M. Dolan, M.A. Evans, T.M. Farmer, D. Goto, H. Han, T.O. Höök, R. Knight, S.A. Ludsin, D. Mason, A.M. Michalak, R.P. Richards, J.J. Roberts, D.K. Rucinski, E. Rutherford, D.J. Schwab, T. Sesterhenn, H. Zhang, and Y. Zhou. 2014. Assessing and addressing the re-eutrophication of Lake Erie: central basin hypoxia. Journal of Great Lakes Research 40:226–246.
  10. Zhang, H., D.M. Mason, C.A. Stow, A.T. Adamack, S.B. Brandt, X. Zhang, D.G. Kimmel, M.R. Roman, and W.C. Boicourt, and S.A. Ludsin. 2014. Effects of hypoxia on habitat quality of pelagic planktivorous fishes in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Marine Ecology Progress Series 505:209-226.
  11. Mayer, C.M., L.E. Burlakova, P. Eklöv, D. Fitzgerald, A. Karatayev, S.A. Ludsin, S. Millard, E.L. Mills, A.P. Ostapenya, L.G. Rudstam, B. Zhu, T.V. Zhukova. 2013. Benthification of freshwater lakes: exotic mussels turning ecosystems upside down. Pages 575-585 in T.F. Nalepa and D.W. Schloesser, editors. Quagga and Zebra Mussels: Biology, Impacts, and Control, Second Edition. Taylor and Francis, New York. 816 pp. [pdf]
  12. Kinter, B.T., and S.A. Ludsin. 2013. Nutrient inputs versus piscivore biomass as the primary driver of reservoir food webs. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 70:367-380.
  13. Goto, D., K. Lindelof, D.L. Fanslow, S.A. Ludsin, J.J. Roberts, H.A. Vanderploeg, A.E. Wilson, and T.O. Höök. 2012. Indirect consequences of hypolimnetic hypoxia on zooplankton growth in a large eutrophic lake. Aquatic Biology 16:217-227.
  14. Pothoven, S.A., H.A. Vanderploeg, D. M. Warner, J.S. Schaeffer, S.A. Ludsin, R.M. Claramunt, and T.F. Nalepa. 2012. Influences on Bythotrephes longimanus life-history characteristics in the Great Lakes. Journal of Great Lakes Research 38:134-141.
  15. Pothoven, S.A., H.A. Vanderploeg, T.O. Höök, and S.A. Ludsin. 2012. Hypoxia modifies planktivore–zooplankton interactions in Lake Erie. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 69: 2018-2028.
  16. Roberts, J.J., S.A. Ludsin, S.A. Pothoven, H.A. Vanderploeg, and T.O. Höök. 2012. Evidence of hypoxic foraging forays by yellow perch (Perca flavescens) and potential consequences for prey consumption. Freshwater Biology 57:922–937.
  17. Arend, K.K., D. Beletsky, J.V. DePinto, S.A. Ludsin, J.J. Roberts, D.K. Rucinski, D. Scavia, D.J. Schwab, and T.O. Höök. 2011. Seasonal and interannual effects of hypoxia on fish habitat quality in central Lake Erie. Freshwater Biology 56:366-383.
  18. Brandt, S.B., M. Costantini, S. Kolesar, S.A. Ludsin, D.M. Mason, C.M. Rae, and H. Zhang. 2011. Does hypoxia reduce habitat quality for Lake Erie walleye? A bioenergetics perspective. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 68:857–879.
  19. Roberts, J.J., S.B. Brandt, D. Fanslow, S.A. Ludsin, S.A. Pothoven, D. Scavia, and T.O. Höök. 2011. Effects of hypoxia on consumption, growth, and RNA:DNA ratios of young yellow perch. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 140:1574-1586.
  20. Ludsin, S.A., X. Zhang, S.B. Brandt, M.R. Roman, W.C. Boicourt, D.M. Mason, and M. Costantini. 2009. Hypoxia-avoidance by planktivorous fish in Chesapeake Bay: Implications for food web interactions and fish recruitment. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 381(Suppl. 1):S121-S131.
  21. Pothoven, S.A., H.A. Vanderploeg, S.A. Ludsin, T.O. Höök, and S.B. Brandt. 2009. Feeding ecology of emerald shiners and rainbow smelt in central Lake Erie. Journal of Great Lakes Research 35:190-198.
  22. Roberts, J.J., T.O. Höök, S.A. Ludsin, S.A. Pothoven, H.A. Vanderploeg, and S.B. Brandt. 2009. Effects of hypolimnetic hypoxia on foraging and distributions of Lake Erie yellow perch. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 381(Suppl. 1):S132-S142.
  23. Vanderploeg, H.A., S.A. Ludsin, J.F. Cavaletto, T.O. Höök, S.A. Pothoven, S.B. Brandt, J. Liebig, and G.A. Lang. 2009. Hypoxic zones as habitat for zooplankton in Lake Erie: Refuges from predation or exclusion zones? Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 381(Suppl. 1):S108-S120.
  24. Vanderploeg, H.A., S.A. Ludsin, S.A. Ruberg, T.O. Höök, S.A. Pothoven, S.B. Brandt, G.A. Lang, J. Liebig, and J.F. Cavaletto. 2009. Hypoxia affects spatial distributions and overlap of pelagic fish, zooplankton, and phytoplankton in Lake Erie. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 381(Suppl. 1):S92-S107.
  25. Zhang, H., S.A. Ludsin, M.R. Roman, W.C. Boicourt, X. Zhang, D.G. Kimmel, A.T. Adamack, D.M. Mason, S.B. Brandt, and J.J. Pierson. 2009. Hypoxia-driven changes in the behavior and spatial distribution of pelagic fish and mesozooplankton in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 381(Suppl. 1):S80-S91.
  26. Costantini, M., S.A. Ludsin, D.M. Mason, X. Zhang, W.C. Boicourt, and S.B. Brandt. 2008. Effect of hypoxia on habitat quality of striped bass (Morone saxatilis) in Chesapeake Bay. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 65:989-1002.
  27. Hawley, N., T.H. Johengen, Y.R. Rao, S.A. Ruberg, D. Beletsky, S.A. Ludsin, B.J. Eadie, D.J. Schwab, T.E. Croley, and S.B. Brandt. 2006. Lake Erie hypoxia prompts Canada-U.S. study. EOS Transactions 87(32):313-324.
  28. Hobbs, B.F., S.A. Ludsin, R.L. Knight, P.A. Ryan, J. Biberhofer, and J.H.H. Ciborowski. 2002. Fuzzy cognitive mapping as a tool to define management objectives for complex ecosystems. Ecological Applications 12:1548-1565.
  29. Ludsin, S.A., and A.D. Wolfe. 2001. Biological invasion theory: Darwin’s contributions from The Origin of Species. BioScience 51:780-789.[0780:BITDSC]2.0.CO;2
  30. Ludsin, S.A., M.W. Kershner, K.A. Blocksom, R.L. Knight, and R.A. Stein. 2001. Life after death in Lake Erie: nutrient controls drive fish species richness, rehabilitation. Ecological Applications 11:731-746.[0731:LADILE]2.0.CO;2

Relevant Funding

  • Ohio Lake Erie Commission, Lake Erie Protection Fund. “HAB & hypoxia impacts on Lake Erie food webs and fisheries.” PI, 2019-2020.
  • Ohio Department of Natural Resources – Division of Wildlife, Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Project Funds
    • “FADR65: Retrospective analysis of the causes and consequences of Lake Erie ecosystem change.” PI, 2011-2018; Ruth Briland (former PhD student)
    • “FADR62: Meteorological effects on Lake Erie yellow perch reproduction and recruitment.” PI, 2009-2015; Troy Farmer (former PhD student, former post-doc)
    • “FADR61: A bioenergetics-based evaluation of hybrid striped bass habitat quality in Ohio reservoirs.” PI, 2009-2012; Emily Burbacher (former MS student)
    • “FADR60: Ecosystem-based modeling evaluation of stocked predator introductions on reservoir food webs.” PI, 2009-2011; Bryan Kinter (former MS student)
  • Ohio Department of Higher Education.
    • “Development of the MMPB method of quantifying total microcystins in edible fish tissues.” PI, 2016-2018; Manju Manubolu (post-doc)
    • “Fish flesh and fresh produce as sources of microcystin exposure to humans.” PI, 2015-2017.
  • National Science Foundation, Coupled Natural and Human Systems Program. “Co-Evolution of upstream human behavior and downstream ecosystem services in a changing climate.” Co-PI, 2011-2017; Noel Aloysius (former post-doc)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. “Integrating the cropland and wildlife components of the conservation effects assessment project (CEAP) to assess and forecast benefits of agricultural BMPs to biological endpoints across the western Lake Erie basin watershed.” Co-PI, 2013-2016; Conor Keitzer (former post-doc)
  • Ohio Sea Grant College Program. “Impacts of climate change on public health in the Great Lakes through harmful algal blooms.” Co-PI, 2012-2016
  • Columbus Zoo. “Brindled madtom reintroduction project.” PI, 2010-2016
  • The Nature Conservancy. “Western Lake Erie Basin conservation effects assessment project.” PI, 2016.
  • Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Fisheries Research Program.
    • “Physical-biological coupling and the challenge of understanding recruitment in large lakes.” PI, 2011-2015; Kristen DeVanna Fussell (former post-doc)
    • “Winter warming effects on yellow perch reproduction and recruitment.” PI, 2010-2013; Troy Farmer (former PhD student, former post-doc)
  • Energy Foundation. “Climate impacts on the Lake Erie fishery.” Co-PI, 2012-2014; Emily Burbacher (former MS student)
  • NOAA ECOFORE Program. “ECOFORE 2006: Forecasting the causes, consequences, and potential solutions for hypoxia in Lake Erie.” Co-PI, 2006-2014; Geoff Hosack (former post-doc), Kevin Pangle (former post-doc)
  • NOAA CSCOR Program. “NGOMEX 2006: Spatially-explicit, high-resolution mapping and modeling to quantify hypoxia effects on the living resources of the Northern Gulf of Mexico.” Co-PI, 2006-2009; Hongyan Zhang (former post-doc)