EAST LANSING, Mich. Michigan State University scientists have developed a pioneering, comprehensive approach that makes conserving and managing freshwater lakes, streams and wetlands more integrated and effective.
"We call our approach landscape limnology," said Patricia Soranno, MSU associate professor of fisheries and wildlife. "It's a new way to study freshwater that considers all freshwaters together lakes, rivers and wetlands as they interact with one another and with natural and human landscapes. Our goal is to improve our broad understanding of the diversity of freshwater resources and to give freshwater managers science-based tools to manage and protect these bodies of water."
The research was published in the June 1 issue of the journal BioScience.
Michigan has more than 10,000 freshwater lakes larger than 5 acres, 30,000 miles of streams and more than 10,000 square miles of wetlands. State agencies mainly the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) are charged with the enormous task of managing these freshwater resources to make sure all needs are met, including overseeing fish stocking and fishing regulations; herbicide applications to control aquatic plants; and setting withdrawal regulations and nutrient standards. But with limited budgets, data can be collected on only a small percentage of these aquatic resources.
Landscape limnology uses geographical information systems, or GIS, data from satellites and aerial photos, including information on land use, soils and geology around the freshwater resources. This information is combined with data collected in the field, such as fish population numbers or nutrient levels in the water to create models that decision-makers can use to decide on the best management and conservation strategies to meet their goals.
Landscape limnology differs from traditional limnology by looking at freshwater resources as an integrated part of a complex
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Michigan State University