Lake Wingra is a 345 acre urban lake near the center of Madison, Wisconsin. The lake has an abundant fish population that includes muskellunge, bluegills, largemouth bass, croppies and carp (Friends of Lake Wingra 2003-2009). Over half of the entire fish population is actually carp. Also living in the lake are bacteria and algae whose growth has become excessive from the amounts of phosphorous in the lake and the high number of nutrients found in the water.
The lake is also a host to numerous pollutants carried there from the surrounding water shed’s streets, buildings, and even yards. This has caused the average water clarity of Lake Wingra to be a measly two and a half feet (Friends of Lake Wingra 2003-2009). This low number is from the excessive growth of algae from the fertilizer runoff that contains phosphorous and even sediment that is stirred up by the amount of carp in the water. Carp also cause the problem of eating chara, which covers the lake bottom and is a type of algae that actually stabilizes sediments (A Better Lake Wingra 2006). Other dangers to the clarity of the water include high chloride levels from the runoff of road salt and other metals and petrochemicals from the neighborhoods around Lake Wingra.
With a growing concern over the lake ecology a microcosm of the lake has been proposed to help study the biotic and abiotic factors in the lake to see if there is a possible way to influence the lake’s environment in a positive way. Our microcosm will give us a much greater understanding of the lake and because we will be able to manipulate variables in the lab it will help us to get quick results of effects different factors may have on the lake. “A microcosm has three useful features: tractability, generality, and realism. This helps for future experiments to build on previous results (Are Natural Microcosms Useful Models Systems for Ecology? 2004). With a microcosm we will be...