Examining Lakes at Multiple Spatial Scales: Predicting the Effects of Landscape Context and Aquatic Plants on Lake Characteristics

EPA Grant Number: U915958
Title: Examining Lakes at Multiple Spatial Scales: Predicting the Effects of Landscape Context and Aquatic Plants on Lake Characteristics
Investigators: Cheruvelil, Kendra S.
Institution: Michigan State University
EPA Project Officer: Michaud, Jayne
Project Period: January 1, 2001 through January 1, 2004
Project Amount: $78,868
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Aquatic Ecosystems , Fellowship - Aquatic Ecology and Ecosystems


The objectives of this research project are to determine: (1) the landscape ecology of lakes; (2) the role that disturbance and spatial heterogeneity have on aquatic plants and their role in lake foodwebs; and (3) the application of aquatic ecology knowledge to lake management. Currently, wise and effective lake management is hindered by our lack of understanding of how processes at multiple spatial scales affect water quality and aquatic plant communities. Although lakes are inherently variable, lake management cannot occur on a lake-by-lake basis. Therefore, we need conceptual tools and analyses that allow information from a subset of lakes to be extrapolated to groups of lakes.


I will examine patterns in water chemistry, water clarity, and aquatic plant cover across lakes in Michigan, and how these patterns relate to landscape and within-lake characteristics. I am studying these patterns using a variety of approaches including lake sampling, hierarchical linear modeling, and experiments. More specifically, I am exploring: (1) relationships between the landscape and lake water chemistry and clarity using historic water quality data from approximately 525 MI inland lakes, statewide geographic information system layers of landscape characteristics (i.e., land use, hydrology) and hierarchical linear modeling; (2) patterns between aquatic plants (i.e., exotic aquatic plant Eurasian watermilfoil), the landscape, and within-lake characteristics using field survey aquatic plant and water quality data from 54 MI inland lakes; (3) the relationship between aquatic plant cover and fish growth using field survey aquatic plant data and MI Department of Natural Resources fish growth data; and (4) the relationships between aquatic plant cover, aquatic plant edge habitat, and fish growth using 800-gallon tank experiments.

Because my research examines lake variability by evaluating the relative importance of landscape and lake variables across spatial scales, I will improve our understanding of what drives internal lake characteristics such as water quality and aquatic plant cover, which will inform lake management.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, lake characteristics, aquatic plants, landscape context, lake foodwebs, lake management, water quality, aquatic plant communities, Michigan, MI, Michigan lakes.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2001
  • 2002
  • Final