So just what exactly do the lake sturgeon, chironomid larvae, and the 2007 Red Sox world championship have to do with one another? More than you probably realize. The lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens, center) was once one of the most abundant fish species in the Great Lakes. However, thanks to demand for its meat and eggs and human development, the lake sturgeon is now uncommon. Despite their massive size (the largest individuals can be >6' and 200+lbs), sturgeon eat lots and lots of small organisms, like midge fly larvae in the upper left. Most of the large fish (salmon and lake trout mostly) that were introduced in the Great Lakes are piscivorous, meaning they eat other fish. If you're still here, stick with me. We'll get to baseball eventually, I swear.
Once the lake sturgeon population declined, the chironomid worm population exploded, thanks to the lack of predators. Not only were there no longer lake sturgeon to eat them, but the salmon introduced into the lake ate many of the smaller fish that normally would have eaten the chironomids too. The ecological term for this kind of interaction is a trophic cascade - basically, the change at the top of a food web can work its way down the food web. So what do lots and lots of chironomid larvae have to do with baseball? Perhaps you remember the common name for one species of chironomid - Canadian soldiers.