Great Salt Lake is an enormous terminal lake in the western United States. It is a highly productive ecosystem, which has global significance for millions of migrating birds who rely on this critical feeding station on their journey through the American west. For the human population in the adjacent metropolitan area, this body of water provides a significant economic resource as industries, such as brine shrimp harvesting and mineral extraction, generate jobs and income for the state of Utah. In addition, the lake provides the local population with ecosystem services, especially the creation of mountain snowpack that generates water supply, and the prevention of dust that may impair air quality. As a result of climate change and water diversions for consumptive uses, terminal lakes are shrinking worldwide, and this edited volume is written in this urgent context.
This is the first book ever centered on Great Salt Lake biology. Current and novel data presented here paint a comprehensive picture, building on our past understanding and adding complexity. Together, the authors explore this saline lake from the microbial diversity to the invertebrates and the birds who eat them, along a dynamic salinity gradient with unique geochemistry. Some unusual perspectives are included, including the impact of tar seeps on the lake biology and why Great Salt Lake may help us search for life on Mars. Also, we consider the role of human perceptions and our effect on the biology of the lake. The editors made an effort to involve a diversity of experts on the Great Salt Lake system, but also to include unheard voices such as scientists at state agencies or non-profit advocacy organizations. This book is a timely discussion of a terminal lake that is significant, unique, and threatened.