Traditionally, ecosystem monitoring, conservation, and restoration have been conducted in a piecemeal manner at the local scale without regional landscape context. However, scientifically driven conservation and restoration decisions benefit greatly when they are based on regionally determined benchmarks and goals. Unfortunately, required data sets rarely exist for regionally important ecosystems. Because of early recognition of the extreme ecological importance of Laurentian Great Lakes coastal wetlands, and the extensive degradation that had already occurred, significant investments in coastal wetland research, protection, and restoration have been made in recent decades and continue today. Continued and refined assessment of wetland condition and trends, and the evaluation of restoration practices are all essential to ensuring the success of these investments. To provide wetland managers and decision makers throughout the Laurentian Great Lakes basin with the optimal tools and data needed to make scientifically-based decisions, our regional team of Great Lakes wetland scientists developed standardized methods and indicators used for assessing wetland condition. From a landscape perspective, at the Laurentian Great Lakes ecosystem scale, we established a stratified random-site-selection process to monitor birds, anurans, fish, macroinvertebrates, vegetation, and physicochemical conditions of coastal wetlands in the US and Canada. Monitoring of approximately 200 wetlands per year began in 2011 as the Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Monitoring Program. In this paper, we describe the development, delivery, and expected results of this ongoing international, multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder, landscape-scale monitoring program as a case example of successful application of landscape conservation design.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The research was carried out by scientists from 11 US and Canadian universities, three US and Canadian government agencies and one environmental engineering and science firm. The U.S. team consisted of scientists from Central Michigan University?s Institute for Great Lakes Research, the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, the Annis Water Resources Institute (AWRI) at Grand Valley State University, the Burke Institute for Freshwater Innovation at?Northland College, the University of Notre Dame, Lake Superior State University, State University of New York-College at Brockport, the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, River Falls, and Superior, and Oregon State University, as well as a resource management officials from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), and a data-management professional from Limnotech. Canadian scientists included those from the University of Windsor, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Bird Studies Canada. The authors would like to thank Allison N. Kneisel, Jessica M. Kosiara, and Bridget A. Wheelock for editing the manuscript. Funding for this work was provided by the Great Lakes National Program Office under the United States Environmental Protection Agency, grant number GL-00E00612-0 as part of the US federal government?s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Although the research described in this work has been partly funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, it has not been subjected to the agency?s required peer and policy review, and therefore, does not necessarily reflect the views of the agency and no official endorsement should be inferred. This paper is Contribution Number 115 of the Central Michigan University Institute for Great Lakes Research and Contribution Number 629 of the Natural Resources Research Institute, University of Minnesota-Duluth.
- Coastal wetlands
- Ecosystem health
- The Laurentian Great Lakes