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Landscape Limnology Applications to Management, Policy, and Conservation

Image: Landscape Limnology Applications to Management, Policy, and Conservation.

Although much of our research encompassed by themes 1-3 incorporates the human landscape in order to understand freshwater ecosystem patterns and processes, this research theme takes the next step of applying our landscape limnology perspective and research results to applied issues of importance for managers, policy-makers, and conservationists. For example, we have used our 2,400-lake six-state database to identify biases in the sampling strategies of state agencies. The value of our approaches is demonstrated by the collaborations between members of our research group and state policy and management personnel. For example, Soranno and Cheruvelil took a predictive modeling approach that integrated human, freshwater and terrestrial landscapes to develop lake nutrient criteria for the state of Michigan; and Soranno is currently applying a similar approach to tribal waters for two tribes in Minnesota. In addition, Soranno is currently involved in the effort to further assess and lay out a plan for Michigan's policy for groundwater withdrawal to consider lakes and wetlands using a landscape perspective and predictive classification models. In addition, Cheruvelil is leading an effort to integrate social scientists into our perspective by quantifying the effects of Michigan's freshwater policies on lake water quality. Building on the research described in theme 3 that quantifies the economic benefit of lake water clarity, we are next comparing this benefit with the cost of land use conversion. The next logical step toward integrating our landscape limnology perspective with social science in order to inform freshwater ecosystem management, policy, and conservation is to include the multiple stressors and human uses that freshwater ecosystems face in our models.  Our international scope has expanded to Northern Ireland where Katherine Webster is working with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency to develop hydrogeomorphic classifications for rivers and lakes.