Ecology Under Lake Ice

Principal Investigator(s): 

Stephanie Hampton

Traditionally summer has been considered the “growing season” in seasonally ice-covered lakes; however, it is increasingly evident that winter is a time of diverse biological activity and physical processes that affect ecosystem functioning throughout the year. Pioneering research on sea-ice systems has disclosed that under-ice communities can contribute more than half of the total annual primary productivity in some regions, sustaining both pelagic and benthic organisms. Far less is known of dynamics in seasonally ice-covered lakes, but observed similarities suggest analogous importance of ice-associated biota and processes for lakes.

The emerging appreciation of the importance of under-ice production in marine systems and the rapidly changing ice phenologies of many lakes are stimulating increased interest in the under-ice ecology of lakes. This Working Group has engaged broad participation from the scientific community. Bringing together many scientists and their data on various aspects of the under-ice biology of particular lakes will help to tell a larger story about the relative importance of winter processes and how lakes differ from winter to summer. This synthesis project will help answer basic questions about winter limnology, catalyze new research directions for participants and forge new global collaborations.

This Working Group recently published "Heating up a cold subject: prospects for under-ice plankton research in lakes" in the Journal of Plankton Research.


This project is supported by UC Santa Barbara's National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), the National Science Foundation (NSF DEB #1431428), and Washington State University's Center for Environmental Research, Education, and Outreach (CEREO)

More information about this project