DNR faculty Lars Rudstam and associate Jim Watkins teamed up with the Center for Great Lakes Studies at Buffalo State College (Drs. Alexander Karatayev and Lyuba Burlakova) to study lower trophic levels (benthos, zooplankton, mysids, algae) in all of the Laurentian Great Lakes from Lake Superior to Lake Ontario. Funding is through EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and is for five years. In addition to monitoring lower trophic levels on annual research cruises with EPA’s Lake Guardian, the research team will study the deep chlorophyll layer that is increasing in importance in the lakes, the ecological role of mysid shrimps, the detection of invasive species, and the use of indices of biotic integrity. Of importance is also improved connection between lower trophic level assessment and fisheries management across the basin. Two technicians and two graduate students at Cornell and one technician and a graduate student at Buffalo State will team up with the PI in this new initiative. This work is a continuation of DNR and the Cornell Biological Field Station’s (CBFS) leadership in assessing and researching lower trophic levels in the Great Lakes; work that started with the collaborations between Bob O’Gorman at US Geological Survey and Ed Mills at CBFS almost 30 years ago. We are building on a firm foundation.