Great Salt Lake Food Web
 (Photos on this introductory page by Shirley Naylor)

This class project at Westminster College was created by the Fall 1998 class in General Ecology (BIO 351) taught by

Dr. Ty Harrison. The students were:

Nghia Nguyen (Brine Shrimp)
Leslie Jones (Brine Flies, Bugs)
Jaime Merrill (Marsh Hawk)
Jacquelyn Rouillard (Bacteria)
Todd Volkening (Wilson's Phalarope and Eared Grebe)
Jennifer Hatch (Algae)

Ever since the 1850 federal survey of Great Salt Lake by Howard Stansbury, the lake has been

one of the most famous of Utah's many natural attractions.   Great Salt Lake is a prominent

feature of the northern Utah landscape.

This is a satellite picture of Great Salt Lake from the U.S. Geological Survey home page was taken when Great Salt Lake reached its historic high level in 1987 and spilled, with the aid of giant pumps, into the salt flats of the west desert. 



Great Salt Lake moderates the local weather creating what is known as the " lake effect",

helping create large snowfalls in the local mountains as well as the "greatest snow on earth" for

the 2002 Winter Olympics.  It is one of the most important areas in the western hemisphere for

migratory shorebirds .   It is a major industrial source of salts and magnesium manufacture and

consequent industrial pollution.   It is the source of a multimillion dollar brine shrimp industry.

(See the U.S. Geological Survey page on brine shrimp, or the Utah Department of Wildlife

Resources page on brine shimp)


Great Salt Lake's basic biology and ecology is poorly understood or appreciated but important

research and educational projects are currently underway to help predict human and natural

effects on the lake's ecosystem.   New groups like the Friends of Great Salt Lake and the

Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network  have been organized to celebrate the lake's

local and national significance.   Hawkwatch International  provides information about raptors

which use the Great Salt Lake ecosystem.

    Several books on the  lake's natural history have recently been

authored :

    1.  Refuge by T. Tempest Williams
    2.  Seductive Beauty of Great Salt Lake:  Images of a Lake Unknown by Ella Sorensen  and John P. George,  Gibbs  Smith Publisher, 1997
    3.  Sagebrush Ocean by Steven Trimble.
     4The Great Salt Lake Story curriculum published in 199_? by the Utah Museum of Natural History.

Dr. Robert Ford of  Westminster College has recently created a Virtual Field Trip to Great Salt

Lake to help visitors better understand the importance of this national treasure.




This project will describe the simplified food web of Great Salt Lake shown diagramatically in the following illustration:

Click on the appropriate organism's name to discover more about the biology of each major

inhabitant of the lake ecosystem.  Organisms which have hot links currently include:

Brine shrimp
Brine fly & Corixid Bug
Marsh Hawk
Wilson's Phalarope & Eared Grebe

More links and information will be added to this page in the future.

For additional information about this page contact:  Dr. Ty Harrison at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Telephone: 801-488-4232 or E-mail: