Lake Tahoe could get clearer over next few years due to tiny changes, report says

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Lake Tahoe, the world’s clearest large lake, could become even clearer over the next few years due to changes in its plankton population, scientists said in a new report.

Researchers at UC Davis released their annual Lake Tahoe “State of the Lake” report last week, detailing several significant changes in the water, including a plunging level of Mysis shrimp, a type of zooplankton, which could increase the clarity of the lake.

The team of scientists predicted that the drop in the population of Mysis shrimp will have a cascading effect on the lake. The zooplankton species, which is about the size of the width of a fingernail, is known to feast on the lake’s native Daphnia, a tiny crustacean that spends much of its time devouring algae that would otherwise dilute the lake’s limpidness, the report says.

The plummeting number of Mysis shrimp could allow the Daphnia to reassert itself, increasing the clarity of Tahoe’s water, researchers said. The Daphnia is also eaten by Kokanee salmon, and if the Daphnia population remains high, the salmon could increase greatly in size, scientists wrote.

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