Modeling and Multiobjective Risk Decision Tools for Assessment and Management of Great Lakes EcosystemsEPA Grant Number: R825150
Title: Modeling and Multiobjective Risk Decision Tools for Assessment and Management of Great Lakes Ecosystems
Investigators: Hobbs, Benjamin F. , Koonce, Joseph F.
Current Investigators: Hobbs, Benjamin F. , Locci, Ana B. , Koonce, Joseph F.
Institution: The Johns Hopkins University , Case Western Reserve University
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: October 1, 1996 through September 30, 1999
Project Amount: $620,259
RFA: Ecological Assessment (1996) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Aquatic Ecosystems
This proposal addresses restoration and protection of the Lake Erie ecosystem. Lake Erie has become a symbol of the struggle to maintain a viable economy with sensitivity to human and ecosystem health concerns. The "death" of Lake Erie was caused by a variety of stresses, including pollution, habitat destruction, and overuse of its fishery resources. The efforts of water quality management agencies to reduce pollutant loadings have dramatically lowered nutrient levels and contaminant body burdens of fish and wildlife. At the same time, fish managers accomplished a highly successful recovery of fisheries, and recreational fishing has become a major economic activity in the world's foremost freshwater fishery. The successes of the 1980s, however, have not continued into the 1990s. Fish populations are once again in decline. Contaminant body burdens are no longer decreasing, and invasion of exotic species threaten to further destabilize the ecosystem.
Thus, the complex nature of emerging problems requires management agencies to embrace an ecosystem approach to management. But gaps in understanding of consequences of management actions and the lack of tested techniques for integrating multiple objectives and risk in decision making hamper efforts to deal with these new challenges. The State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference (Kidd 1994) recommended that an ecosystem approach be adopted for studying ecosystem problems and the stresses that cause them; that well-defined ecosystem objectives be defined to measure success in restoring ecosystem integrity; and that roundtable and interdisciplinary approaches to decision making be taken that aim for consensus among stakeholders. This project attempts to respond to those recommendations.
In particular, this research proposes to develop and test an integrated ecological assessment and decision methodology for the Lake Erie ecosystem. The purpose of the methodology is to assist managers and stakeholders, who are involved in the Lake Erie Lakewide Management Plan and other Lake Erie management processes, to define objectives and evaluate tradeoffs and risks associated with future uses. The research plan builds on existing initiatives and will address key issues and management challenges, which overlap fishery and water quality management concerns: interaction of invasions of exotic species, nutrient reductions, and fishery harvests; influence of nearshore and tributary habitat on offshore community structure and productivity; effects of alteration of offshore community on contaminant body burdens of Lake Erie fish; and sensitivity of emerging ecosystem objectives to climate change. The products of the research will be an expanded Lake Erie Ecosystem Model (modifications to include habitat, hydrology, and climate change components); development and application of methodologies for decision making under multiple objectives and risks; and workshops in which Lake Erie managers, who participate in the Lake Erie LaMP, apply and evaluate the model and methods.