All areas of research and education related to reservoirs and their watersheds are supported by the
Center. At present, multi-disciplinary activities are organized around five interrelated areas. The
unifying theme is processes which regulate and sustain biological productivity in reservoir
environments. Brief synopses of the areas are provided below followed by active grants. The WSI Long-term Monitoring Program provides database support.
Area 1 addresses chemical and biological processes of catchment basins: assessment of the
quantity and quality of the chemical composition of groundwater, hyporheic water, runoff and
wetlands as they influence surface water chemistry and biota. Special attention focuses on the
documentation of hydrologic events. Several layers of information (land use and cover, erosion
potential, etc.) on Kentucky Lake catchment basins have been compiled in WSI's Kentucky Lake
Geographic Information System. Layers are used to further understand basin composition as it
relates to processes.
Area 2 addresses embayment and reservoir productivity in relation to tributary and mainstem
influences based on analyses of data in the WSI Long-Term Monitoring Program. Understanding
nutrient, carbon, and physical factors which regulate phytoplankton and zooplankton abundance
and species composition is of special importance. Documentation of long-term water column
nutrient patterns in relation to changes in the planktonic communities is essential to characterizing
reservoir response to long-term environmental changes. Samples for enumeration and
identification of planktonic organisms have been collected routinely as part of the WSI Long-Term Monitoring Program since its inception in 1988. Special attention focuses on documenting
the effects of the invasion of exotic plankton into Kentucky Lake, i.e., the exotic zooplankton
Daphnia lumholtzi, and planktonic larval exotic mollusks.
Area 3 focuses on quantitative characterization of the chemical environment within the
sediments of Kentucky Lake. Sediments are important sinks and sources of nutrients and other
chemical species to the overlying water column. Thin layers of sediments in contact with
overlying reservoir waters have been identified as the most active sites of important biochemical
processes such as nitrification, denitrification, and oxygen consumption. This area seeks to
quantify fluxes of a number of chemical species between the sediments and embayment waters.
Chemical conditions within the sediments are closely linked to the activities of both micro- and
macro-organisms inhabiting the sediments.
Area 4 seeks to examine some of the more important biota of embayment environments. Focus
is on the complex diversity of habitats and food resources which sustain the productivity.
Fisheries studies address embayments as important in providing food, shelter, and spawning and
nursery areas. Invertebrate studies focus on unionid clams and the parasites which infect them.
Unionid clams are a commercially important component of the natural fauna of Kentucky Lake,
and relationships between clam abundance and such environmental factors such as phytoplankton
abundance and water chemistry are being assessed. Likewise, links between environmental
factors and parasite species composition and abundance are sought. Assessment of chemical
effects on the life cycles of aquatic insects also are addressed.
Area 5 focuses on improved water quality mapping and modeling for Kentucky Lake with
particular emphasis on incorporation of Landsat TM satellite data. Ongoing are efforts to map
chlorophyll, temperature, and turbidity distributions from TM data (calibrated by field
measurements). A related component of this area is investigation/modification of numerical
hydrologic, thermal, biologic, and sedimentologic models for use in Kentucky Lake. The area
addresses the theme of biological productivity on a broad scale. Models of chlorophyll
concentrations and light attenuation are validated by comparison with field measurements of
primary production and algal composition. Conceptual and numerical models of reservoir
processes provide a mechanism for both incorporating results from other reservoirs and for
extension of project results to other environments.