Kaitlin Reinl

Research Coordinator

Limnology, Aquatic Ecology, Cyanobacteria, Watersheds

Dr. Kaitlin Reinl is a limnologist with a broad focus on how the synergistic effects of climate and watershed influence impacts inland water quality. Her most recent work has focused on cyanobacterial blooms in Lake Superior using monitoring, experimental, and computer modeling approaches. She is currently the Research Coordinator for the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR), which is part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension.


Blooms also like it cold

Cyanobacterial blooms have substantial direct and indirect negative impacts on freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem functions. There is growing concern over the potential for climate change to promote cyanobacterial blooms, as the positive effects of increasing lake surface temperature on cyanobacterial growth are well-documented in the literature. There is increasing evidence, however, that potentially toxic cyanobacterial blooms can also be initiated and persist in cold-water temperatures (<15 °C), even under ice. This work documents cold-water cyanobacterial blooms in freshwaters around the world. In this presentation, we evaluate abiotic drivers and physiological adaptations leading to cold-water cyanobacterial blooms, offer a typology of these lesser-studied phenomena, and discuss their occurrence under current and future climate conditions.

Effects of the St. Louis River Estuary on Water Quality in Lake Superior

The St. Louis River Estuary (SLRE) is a major source of biological and chemical materials to Lake Superior. The SLRE spans a wide range of biochemical properties and has a long history of impacts from anthropogenic activities. Despite the unique setting of the SLRE and its significant contribution of material to Lake Superior, little is known about the contributions of the estuary or their effects on water quality in the nearshore of Lake Superior. This work characterizes biochemical gradients in the estuary using a 10-year record of water quality data and characterizes differences along a spatial gradient. Preliminary data show significant increasing trends in water temperature and chlorophyll a over time, and a decrease in ammonium, nitrite, and nitrate. Nearly all parameters demonstrate seasonality, which also has important implications for downstream water quality. These findings highlight the importance of considering watershed and lake interactions for lake water quality.

An overview of cyanobacterial blooms in oligotrophic Lake Superior

The surprising emergence of cyanobacterial blooms, primarily along the south shore of Lake Superior, most notably from the Twin Ports of Duluth, MN and Superior, WI, to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in WI, has prompted a large-scale response from the research and management community to understand drivers causing the blooms and identify possible solutions to mitigate them. Research to date suggests that both increasing water temperatures and extreme rainfall events play a role in bloom formation. There is little evidence of toxin production during previous blooms, but more intensive sampling and analysis is warranted. This talk will give an overview of what is known about Lake Superior cyanobacterial blooms and highlight collaborative monitoring, research, and rapid response efforts.

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