Assessment of Shallow Lake Management
Minnesota’s shallow lakes provide numerous direct human benefits such as clean water, hydrologic storage to limit flooding, recreational opportunities, and access to unique wild areas. They also contribute valuable ecosystem services including carbon sequestration and habitat for native species. Unfortunately, water and habitat quality of Minnesota’s shallow lakes have deteriorated dramatically during the past century. Conversion from native upland covers, widespread wetland drainage and surface-water consolidation to facilitate agricultural and urban/residential development have been implicated as major causes for these changes. We propose to study approximately 150 shallow lakes in 5 ecological regions of Minnesota to:
- Identify major factors leading to deterioration
- Evaluate results of specific lake restoration approaches, including cost-effectiveness of various combinations of lake management strategies
- Assess the impacts of increased surface water connectivity on fish invasions and resulting habitat quality
Our efforts will include: comprehensive sampling of shallow lakes to identify direct and indirect causes of deterioration, evaluation of approximately eight lakes currently undergoing rehabilitation, and economic analyses to determine which restoration strategies are likely to produce the greatest improvements in water quality and other lake characteristics per unit cost. Research results will provide to lake managers scientific synthesis and practical guidance for shallow lakes throughout Minnesota and will be made available in the form of scientific publications and a synthesis document especially for lake management. Ultimately, our results will help guide municipalities, state, county, and local governments, and private organizations in identifying cost-effective approaches for maintaining and restoring ecological integrity of shallow lakes throughout Minnesota. Special attention will be directed towards development of regionally-specific recommendations for sustainable lake management.