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Jake Vander Zanden

Research  |  Teaching  |  Publications 

223B Center for Limnology
Office: (608)262-9464
Limnology and Marine Science
The Nelson Institute: Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development, Water Resources Management

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Research Interests

    1) Impacts, dynamics, and prediction of aquatic invasive species.
    Invasive species are a leading threat to aquatic biodiversity and ecosystems. Because invasions are among the most irreversible of human impacts, prevention is the most important approach for dealing with this problem. But with approximately 15,000 lakes in Wisconsin along, how do we focus our efforts most effectively? We have been working with a variety of researchers on what we call ‘smart prevention’ proejcts. The idea is to identify lakes that are most likely to be invaded and most likely to be impacted by an invader. These ‘vulnerable’ lakes can be mapped using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to show the pattern of vulnerability on the landscape, and prevention and monitoring efforts can be directed to these vulnerable sites. This type of analyses has been conducted for bass invasions in Ontario lakes, and is presently being conducted on rusty crayfish and rainbow smelt in Wisconsin.
    Characterizing ecological impacts of invaders is another interest. Current studies are examining the food web consequences of rusty crayfish and rainbow smelt invasions in Wisconsin lakes. Stable isotope techniques are proving to be be a useful tool for examining the food web responses to these ecological perturbations.

    2) Food web perspectives on ecological restoration in aquatic systems.
    Ongoing projects are targeting the conservation and restoration of native fisheries in the Sierra Nevada Mts, (CA-NV), the Laurentian Great Lakes, and Mongolia. Efforts to restore native fisheries rarely consider predator-prey interactions. Yet introduced species may alter food webs and act as barriers to restoration of native species. Fisheries conservation efforts can benefit from assessing historical food web conditions, as a tool for setting realistic restoration targets. Current projects are conducting stable isotope analysis on museum specimens to reconstruct long-term food web chronologies in Lake Tahoe (CA-NV) and other lakes, emphasizing the ecological changes and restoration potential of these systems.

    3) The role of benthic production and processes in lake ecosystems.
    Current research in collaboration with Dr. Yvonne Vadeboncoeur (Wright State University) is examining the relative importance of benthic and pelagic primary production along gradients of lake size, eutrophication, and lake morphometry. In addition, we are examining the importance of benthic production to higher trophic levels in lake ecosystems, and examining the broader implications of this benthic energy flow for trophic cascades and food web stability.



    Zoology 315 - Limnology—Conservation of Aquatic Resources
    Zoology 316 - Laboratory for Limnology—Conservation of Aquatic Resources
    Zoology 510 - Ecology of Fishes
    Zoology 511 - Ecology of Fishes Lab
    Zoology 651 - Conservation Biology
    Zoology 750 - Problems in Oceanography
    Zoology 911 - Limnology and Marine Science Seminar
    Zoology 955 - Seminar—Limnology

    Graduate students currently supervised:

    Stephanie Schmidt, Ph.D Student, Limnology and Marine Sciences (
        Long-term food web changes and management of Great Lakes.

    Chris Solomon, Ph.D Student, Zoology (
       Benthic pelagic linkages and ecosystem processes in lakes.

    Matt Diebel, Ph.D Student, Limnology and Marine Sciences (
       Riparian buffers and modeling fish distributions at the regional level.

    David Gilroy, M.Sc. Student, Limnology and Marine Sciences (
       Ecology and conservation of Hucho taimen in Mongolia

    Katrina Butkas, Ph.D. Student, Limnology and Marine Sciences (
        Benthic productivity in lake ecosystems.

    Matt Kornis, Ph.D. Student, Limnology and Marine Sciences (
        Biological invasion of coastal Great Lakes waters.

    Postdocs currently supervised:

    Scott Higgins
       Limnology, benthic ecology, nutrient dynamics, zebra mussels

    Students supervised who recently earned graduate degrees:

    Norman Mercado-Silva, Ph.D. Zoology, 2005.
        Invasive species in aquatic systems: population, community, food web, and landscape perspectives.

Selected Publications

    Vander Zanden, M.J., and W.W. Fetzer. 2007. Global patterns of aquatic food chain length. Oikos 116: 1378-1388. (Click for PDF)

    Hein, C.L., M.J. Vander Zanden, and J.J. Magnuson. 2007. Intensive trapping and increased fish predation cause massive population decline of an invasive crayfish. Freshwater Biology 52: 1134-1146. (Click for PDF)

    Carpenter, S., B. Benson, R. Biggs, J. Chipman, J. Foley, S. Golding, R. Hammer, P. Hanson, P. Johnson, A. Kamarainen, T. Kratz, R. Lathrop, K. McMahon, B. Provencher, J. Rusak, C. Solomon, E. Stanley, M. Turner, J. Vander Zanden, C. Wu, H. Yuan. 2007. Understanding regional change: A comparison of two lake districts. BioScience 57: 323-335. (Click for PDF)

    Vander Zanden, M. J., S. Chandra, S. Park, and Y. Vadeboncoeur, and C. R. Goldman. 2006. Efficiencies of benthic and pelagic trophic pathways in a subalpine lake. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 63: 2608-2620. (Click for PDF)

    Mercado-Silva, N., J.D. Olden, J.T. Maxted, T.R. Hrabik, M.J. Vander Zanden. 2006. Forecasting the spread of invasive rainbow smelt in the Laurentian Great Lakes region of North America. Conservation Biology 20: 1740-1749. (Click for PDF)

    Olden, J.D., J. M. McCarthy, J. T. Maxted, W. W. Fetzer, M. J. Vander Zanden. 2006. The rapid spread of rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) with observations on native crayfish declines in Wisconsin (U.S.A.) over the past 130 years. Biological Invasions 8:1621-1628. (Click for PDF)

    Olden, J.D., O.P. Jensen, and M.J. Vander Zanden. 2006. Implications of long-term dynamics of fish and zooplankton communities for among-lake comparisons. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 63: 1812-1821. (Click for PDF)

    Mercado-Silva, N., J. Lyons, E. Diaz-Pardo, A.G. Hernandez, C. Pedroza-Lara, C.P. Ornelas, M.J. Vander Zanden. 2006. Long-term changes in the fish assemblage of the Laja River, Guanajuato, central Mexico. Aquatic Conservation - Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 16:533-546. (Click for PDF)

    Vander Zanden, M.J., J.D. Olden, and C. Gratton. 2006. Food web approaches in restoration ecology. Pp 165-189, In Foundations of Restoration Ecology Edited by D. Falk M. Palmer J. Zedler. Island Press. (Click for PDF)

    Hein, C.L, B.M. Roth, A.R. Ives, and M.J Vander Zanden. 2006. Fish predation and trapping for rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) control: a whole-lake experiment. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 63:383-393. (Click for PDF)

    Roth, B.M., C.L. Hein, and M.J. Vander Zanden. 2006. Using bioenergetics and stable isotopes to assess the trophic role of rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) in lake littoral zones. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 63:335-344. (Click for PDF)

    McCarthy, J.M., C.L. Hein, J.D. Olden, M.J. Vander Zanden. 2006. Coupling long-term studies with meta-analysis to investigate impacts of invasive crayfish on zoobenthic communities. Freshwater Biology 51:224-235. (Click for PDF)

    Vadeboncouer, Y., K.S. McCann, M.J. Vander Zanden and J.B. Rasmussen. 2005. Effects of multi-chain omnivory on the strength of trophic control in lakes. Ecosystems 8: 682-693. (Click for PDF)

    Vander Zanden, M.J., Y. Vadeboncoeur, M. W. Diebel, and E. Jeppesen. 2005. Primary consumer stable nitrogen isotopes as indicators of nutrient source. Environmental Science and Technology 39: 7509-7515. (Click for PDF)

    Chandra, S., M.J. Vander Zanden, A.C. Heyvaert, B.C. Richards, B.C. Allen, and C.R. Goldman. 2005. The effects of cultural eutrophication on the coupling between pelagic primary producers and benthic consumers. Limnology and Oceanography. 50: 1368-1376. (Click for PDF)

    Vander Zanden, M.J., T. E. Essington, and Y. Vadeboncoeur. 2005. Is pelagic top-down control in lakes augmented by benthic energy flow pathways? Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 62: 1422-1431. (Click for PDF)

    Havel, J.E., C.E. Lee, M.J. Vander Zanden. 2005. Do reservoirs facilitate invasions into landscapes? BioScience 55: 518-252. (Click for PDF)

    Vander Zanden, M.J. 2005. The success of animal invaders. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (U.S.A.) 102: 7055-7056. (Click for PDF)

    Rasmussen, J. B., and M. J. Vander Zanden. 2004. The variation of lake food webs across the landscape and its effect on contaminant dynamics. pages 169-182 In Food Webs at the Landscape Level (eds. G.A. Polis, M.E. Power, G.R. Huxel) University of Chicago Press, Chicago.  (Click for PDF)

    Vander Zanden, M. J., J. D. Olden, J. H. Thorne, and N. E. Mandrak. 2004. Predicting the occurrence and impact of bass introductions in north-temperate lakes. Ecological Applications 14: 132-148. (Click for PDF)

    Hogan, Z.S., P.B. Moyle, B.P. May, M. J. Vander Zanden, and I.G. Baird. 2004. The imperiled giants of the Mekong. American Scientist 92: 228-237. (Click for PDF)

    Vander Zanden, M.J., K. A. Wilson, J. M. Casselman, N. D. Yan. 2004. Species introductions and their impacts in North American Shield Lakes. pages 239-263 In Boreal Shield Watersheds: Lake Trout Ecosystems in a Changing Environment (eds. J.M. Gunn, R.A. Ryder, R.J. Steedman). CRC Press, Boca Raton. (Click for PDF)

    Vander Zanden, M. J., J. D. Olden, J. H. Thorne, and N. E. Mandrak. 2004. Predicting the occurrence and impact of bass introductions in north-temperate lakes. Ecological Applications 14: 132-148. (Click for PDF)

    Vander Zanden, M.J, S. Chandra, B. C. Allen, J. E. Reuter, and C. R. Goldman. 2003. Historical food web structure and the restoration of native aquatic communities in the Lake Tahoe (California-Nevada) basin. Ecosystems 6: 274-288. (Click for PDF)

    Vadeboncouer, Y., E. Jeppesen, M. J. Vander Zanden, H. Schierup, K. Christoffersen, and D. M. Lodge. 2003 Cultural eutrophication and the loss of benthic energy pathways in lakes. Limnology and Oceanography 48: 1408-1418. (Click for PDF)

    Vander Zanden, M.J., and R.B. Rasmussen. 2002. Food web perspectives on
    studies of bass populations in north-temperate lakes. Pages 173-184 in D.P. Philipp and M.S. Ridgway, editors. Black bass: Ecology, conservation and management. American Fisheries Society Symposium 31, Bethesda, Maryland. (Click for PDF)

    Vander Zanden, M. J., Y. Vadeboncoeur. 2002. Fishes as integrators of benthic and pelagic food webs in lakes. Ecology 83: 2152-2161. (Click for PDF)

    Sarakinos, H. C., M. B. Johnson, and M. J. Vander Zanden. 2002. The effect of preservation on stable isotope signatures of freshwater fish and invertebrates. Canadian Journal of Zoology 80:381-387. (Click for PDF)

    Vadeboncouer, Y. M, M. J. Vander Zanden, and D. M. Lodge. 2002. Putting the lake back together: Reintegrating benthic pathways into lake food web models. BioScience 52(1):44-54. (Click for PDF)

    Vander Zanden, M. J. and J. B. Rasmussen. 2001. Variation in d15N and d13C trophic fractionation: Implications for aquatic food web studies. Limnology and Oceanography 46(8): 2061-2066. (Click for PDF)

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