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Willard Spur Research Program: 2012 Activities


Research Program


2012 Objectives

Objectives for 2012 included:

  1. Continue the baseline sampling/monitoring program per the 2012 Sampling and Analysis Plan.
  2. Understand what we know about systems similar to Willard Spur and how nutrients may affect it.
  3. Refine research objectives for 2013 to define critical thresholds to be used in monitoring Willard Spur

2012 Accomplishments

Low flow conditions in 2012 provided the Science Panel with the rare opportunity to characterize the Willard Spur ecosystem during both low flow (2012) and high flow (2011) conditions. All planned elements of the Research Plan were implemented in 2012. The following provides a brief summary of project accomplishments in 2012 with reference to the Research Plan and its objectives. Links within the text are provided to key discussion and planning documents.

Research Area No. 1—Food Web

  1. Dr. John Cavitt et all. completed an analysis of waterfowl diet in Willard Spur and a draft review of available dietary information for the bird species utilizing Willard Spur. A final report summarizing bird use and diet in Willard Spur is in final review and is expected to be released in 2013.
  2. A field study was completed by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) to characterize fish species in Willard Spur to augment their review of literature describing the use of Willard Spur by fish.
  3. Dr. Larry Gray completed several studies to understand the use of Willard Spur by macroinvertebrates. His stUdies included a stable isotope analysis of the food web, a life history analysis of common macroinvertebrates, analysis of Willard Spur macroinvertebrate samples collected in 2011 and 2012, and a review of the Great Salt Lake wetland macroinvertebrate literature. A final report summarizing this work is in final review and is expected to be released in 2013.
  4. Dr. Karin Kettenring completed a review of the literature describing habitat, vegetation, and invasive species in Willard Spur and potential impacts from nutrients. A final report summarizing this work is in final review and is expected to be released in 2013. A separate project completed by Dr. Kettenring mapped wetland vegetation around Great Salt Lake, including Willard Spur.

Research Area No. 2—Water & Nutrient Budget

  1. DWQ developed a comprehensive database to compile all project data.
  2. DWQ developed and implemented the 2012 Sampling and Analysis Plan to understand the condition and function of Willard Spur during a low flow (i.e., dry) year.
  3. A preliminary estimate of nutrient loads was completed using results from DWQ's hydrologic study and field sampling efforts.
  4. DWQ completed several special studies including a site-wide intensive sampling even to characterize conditions throughout Willard Spur, long term deployment of sondes to evaluated dissolved oxygen, pH, salinity and water temperature trends, analysis of gross primary production and community respiration, and benthic and pelagic nutrient limitation studies.

Research Area No. 3—Eutrophication Responses

  1. A study proposal from a research team led by the University of Utah was selected for a two-year effort to investigate seasonal dynamics of Willard Spur wetlands and how nutrient loading could affect these dynamics.
  2. Data quality objectives were developed and finalized for the nutrient cycling study. Test plots were installed and maintained through October 2012 and the experimental plan was implemented.
  3. A draft literature review, a report documenting results, observations, and recommendations regarding possible nutrient response triggers, and a proposed workplan for 2013 is in final review and is expected to be released in 2013.

Please note that all data from this project will first be reviewed, validated, and accepted by the Science Panel before it will be distributed to the public. This is to ensure the data meets the data quality objectives for this project. Please contact Jeff DenBleyker if you have any questions.