Program subject to change.
Updated 2 November 2021
Valuing Waters: A Long-Term Perspective From Wisconsin
Lakes are extraordinary ecosystems that provide societal benefits from recreation to food to clean and plentiful drinking water. But the same characteristics that draw us in leave lakes vulnerable to human activities that can damage these environments, and in some cases, cause large, abrupt, and undesirable ecological changes. For the past 40 years, the North Temperate Lakes Long-Term Ecological Research Program (NTL-LTER) has been studying how and why lakes change over time and the consequences of these changes. This has involved research and monitoring of two sets of Wisconsin lakes and their surrounding landscapes. One group of lakes is located in the rural, forested, and tourist-dominated Northern Highland Lake District in northern Wisconsin and the other is situated in the agricultural and urban landscape around Madison, Wisconsin’s state capitol. In this talk, I will describe how studying these two distinct groups of lakes over several years has provided a variety of examples of long-term change in lakes, human impacts on these systems, and how these influences can affect the range of benefits provided by these ecosystems.
Emily Stanley is a professor and Wayland Noland Distinguished Chair in the Department of Integrative Biology and Center for Limnology and the leader of the North Temperate Lakes Long Term Ecological Research program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She received her B.S. degree from Yale University and Ph.D. from Arizona State University. Stanley’s research group studies ecosystem ecology, biogeochemistry, and long-term change in rivers and lakes. This has included studies of the consequences of dam removals, development of large lake data sets to study regional and continental change in lakes, and carbon cycling and greenhouse gas emissions from inland waters. Stanley was named an Aldo Leopold Fellow in 2006, an Ecological Society of America Fellow and a Society for Freshwater Science Fellow in 2018 and received ASLO’s G.E. Hutchinson award in 2018 in recognition of her outstanding and synthetic contributions to the understanding of nitrogen and carbon cycling in lakes and streams.
Lake Superior Manoomin Cultural and Ecological Characterization
Manoomin, or wild rice, is integral to the culture, livelihood, and identity of the Anishinaabeg, the indigenous peoples of Canada and the United States which include the Odawa, Ojibwe, Potawatomi, and Algonquin peoples. In addition to the vital role Manoomin has in the lives of the Anishinaabeg, manoomin is recognized as being ecologically important, feeding migrating and resident wildlife species, providing a nursery for fish and nesting and breeding habitats for many waterfowl and muskrat, and stabilizing shorelines. Once widespread across the central and eastern United States, its distribution is now limited to the upper Great Lakes region, where tribes are investing significant time and resources to protect and restore remaining populations.
The Lake Superior Manoomin Cultural and Ecosystem Characterization Study is a project initiated by a team of Lake Superior Basin Anishinaabe communities, and federal and state agencies focused on documenting and characterizing (1) the perspectives, cultural identity, and cultural and spiritual practices of the Anishinaabe people with respect to manoomin and (2) the critical ecological importance and functions of manoomin waters as indicators of a high-quality, high-functioning, and biodiverse ecosystem in the Lake Superior basin. The team developed a set of cultural and ecological metrics to characterize seven case study sites around Lake Superior. Based on these characterizations, the team used a Habitat Equivalency Analysis to determine the amount of restoration need to counter-balance the lost manoomin habitat functionality. Preliminary results from this study highlight the difficulty in restoring the cultural and ecological functionality of degraded manoomin habitat and importance of preserving and protecting existing manoomin habitat.
Nancy Schuldt has served as the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa’s Water Projects Coordinator since 1997. She has a B.S. in Biology from the University of Dayton, and a Master’s Degree in Aquatic Ecology from the University of Kansas. She developed the Band’s water quality standards and subsequent revisions, including recently approved numeric nutrient criteria for lakes and biological criteria for streams on the reservation, located in northeastern Minnesota. She established a comprehensive long-term water quality monitoring program, initiated the Band’s nonpoint source management program, and leads the Band’s environmental and regulatory review of hard rock mining and petroleum pipeline impacts to reservation and treaty-protected resources. She has directed research into fish contaminants and sediment chemistry to characterize mercury impacts to Fond du Lac Band members, initiated and collaborated on broad-ranging research into wild rice ecology and toxicity, as well as watershed hydrologic modeling to inform management and restoration efforts for this culturally significant subsistence resource. More recently, she has collaborated on and co-authored cross-disciplinary studies including ecosystem service valuation, cost-benefits analysis, cumulative effects analysis, and health impact analyses that elevate understanding of tribal worldviews on human/ecosystem relationships. She has collaborated with university and tribal college faculty to provide research experiences for minority undergraduate students on topics relevant to the tribal community she serves, and has secured competitive grant funding for ongoing support of a Region 5 tribal consortium for management, analysis and assessment of water quality data and reporting to WQX. She participates in numerous local, regional, national and binational working groups to ensure the tribal perspective is represented, including the National Tribal Water Council, National Water Quality Monitoring Council, Lake Superior Binational Partnership, and the Minnesota Sea Grant Advisory Board.