Risk-based classification and interactive map of watersheds contributing anthropogenic stress to Laurentian Great Lakes coastal ecosystems

George E. Host, Katya Kovalenko, Terry N. Brown, Jan J.H. Ciborowski, Lucinda B. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

We describe development anthropogenic stress indices for coastal margins of the Laurentian Great Lakes basin. Indices were derived based on the response of species assemblages to watershed-scale stress from agriculture and urbanization. Metrics were calculated for five groups of wetland biota: diatoms, wetland vegetation, aquatic invertebrates, fishes, and birds. Previously published community change points of these assemblages were used to classify each watershed as ‘least-disturbed’, ‘at-risk’, or ‘degraded’ based on community response to these stressors. The end products of this work are an on-line map utility and downloadable data that characterize the degree of agricultural land use and development in all watersheds of the US and Canadian Great Lakes basin. Discrepancies between the observed biological condition and putative anthropogenic stress can be used to determine if a site is more degraded than predicted based on watershed characteristics, or if remediation efforts are having beneficial impacts on site condition. This study provides a landscape-scale evaluation of wetland condition that is a critical first step for multi-scale assessments to help prioritize conservation or restoration efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-618
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Great Lakes Research
Volume45
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to the many research teams for field sampling and analysis involved with the Great Lakes Environmental Indicators project. Paul Meysembourg of the NRRI GIS laboratory devoted many hours to development of the risk map. This manuscript was greatly improved by comments from two anonymous reviewers and associate editor. We also acknowledge Dr. Peter Esselman of the U.S. Geological Survey for suggestions on improving interpretations of map thresholds. We thank the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation and the University of Michigan Water Center for the generous support of the project ?A comprehensive stressor-response model to inform ecosystem restorations across the Great Lakes basin.? The GLEI-II Indicator Testing and Refinement project was funded by a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes National Program Office (GL-00E00623-0). Although the research described in this work has been partly funded by the US EPA, 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; no official endorsement should be inferred.

Funding Information:
We are grateful to the many research teams for field sampling and analysis involved with the Great Lakes Environmental Indicators project. Paul Meysembourg of the NRRI GIS laboratory devoted many hours to development of the risk map. This manuscript was greatly improved by comments from two anonymous reviewers and associate editor. We also acknowledge Dr. Peter Esselman of the U.S. Geological Survey for suggestions on improving interpretations of map thresholds. We thank the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation and the University of Michigan Water Center for the generous support of the project ‘A comprehensive stressor-response model to inform ecosystem restorations across the Great Lakes basin.’ The GLEI-II Indicator Testing and Refinement project was funded by a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes National Program Office (GL-00E00623-0). Although the research described in this work has been partly funded by the US EPA, 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; no official endorsement should be inferred.

Funding Information:
We are grateful to the many research teams for field sampling and analysis involved with the Great Lakes Environmental Indicators project. Paul Meysembourg of the NRRI GIS laboratory devoted many hours to development of the risk map. This manuscript was greatly improved by comments from two anonymous reviewers and associate editor. We also acknowledge Dr. Peter Esselman of the U.S. Geological Survey for suggestions on improving interpretations of map thresholds. We thank the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation and the University of Michigan Water Center for the generous support of the project ‘A comprehensive stressor-response model to inform ecosystem restorations across the Great Lakes basin.’ The GLEI-II Indicator Testing and Refinement project was funded by a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes National Program Office ( GL-00E00623-0 ). Although the research described in this work has been partly funded by the US EPA, 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; no official endorsement should be inferred.

Keywords

  • Ecological thresholds
  • Environmental indicators
  • Environmental stress
  • Great Lakes
  • Watershed

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