Development of a Regional-Scale Model for the Management of Multiple-Stressors in the Lake Erie Ecosystem

EPA Grant Number: R830881
Title: Development of a Regional-Scale Model for the Management of Multiple-Stressors in the Lake Erie Ecosystem
Investigators: Koonce, Joseph F. , Hobbs, Benjamin F.
Institution: Case Western Reserve University , The Johns Hopkins University
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: June 1, 2003 through May 31, 2006 (Extended to May 31, 2007)
Project Amount: $748,400
RFA: Developing Regional-Scale Stressor-Response Models for Use in Environmental Decision-making (2002) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Aquatic Ecosystems , Climate Change


The objective of this research is to develop a regional-scale, stressor-response model for the management of the Lake Erie ecosystem. Stressors addressed will include effects of land use changes and Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) targets for nutrients, habitat alteration, and natural flow regime modification at the scale of individual watersheds coupled with whole-lake ecosystem effects of invasion of exotic species and fisheries exploitation. Model predictions will focus on effects of stressors on production and abundance of Lake Erie fish populations as indicators of the health of the Lake Erie ecosystem and will be incorporated into a multiobjective decision-making tool for use by Lake Erie water quality and fisheries managers along with other resource planners.


Building on previous STAR funding (R825150) research on joining ecosystem modeling with multiobjective risk decision tools, the proposed research will engage research to: 1) link changes in watershed habitat and nutrient loading regimes proposed for the TMDL process to Lake Erie ecosystem health; 2) quantify uncertainties in model predictions and determine the effects of uncertainties on management decisions; 3) evaluate interaction of stressors, particularly focusing on cross-scale additivity of stressors; 4) develop tools to evaluate ecological risk of land-use changes in watershed of the Lake Erie ecosystem; and 5) identify and evaluate critical break-points in ecosystem integrity of the Lake Erie ecosystem and of its integrated management.

Expected Results:

This research will result in improved understanding of the importance of habitat and nutrient loading constraints to productivity and biodiversity of fish populations in the Great Lakes. Using fish communities as indicators of ecosystem health, the model provides an essential element in linking habitat changes to ecosystem effects. This research will also contribute to more general understanding of how fine-scale processes develop into larger-scale phenomena. Models developed in this study will integrate habitat supply information in an ecosystem context, relating habitat constraints to important fishery resources. These models will be valuable tools for assessing the potential impacts of habitat management on fish community indicators. The indicators, methodologies, and applications developed will also contribute to the goal of improving ecosystem management by developing tools that will help environmental managers in the Great Lakes to understand the probable consequences and causes of changes in landscape attributes and conditions, and by demonstrating how the understanding can be used in ecosystem management.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 31 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 6 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Great Lakes, ecosystem health, ecosystem modeling, scaling, risk assessment, aquatic habitat, Bayesian analysis, water, watersheds, ecological effects, integrated assessment, nonmarket valuation, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecology, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Monitoring/Modeling, Environmental Monitoring, Ecological Risk Assessment, Atmosphere, aquatic ecosystem, lake erie, ecosystem management model, effects of multiple stresses, land use model, watershed, environmental impact, habitat reconstruction, multiple stressors, TMDL, environmental stress, ecological models, fish models, land management, multi-stressor model, regional hydrologic modeling, stress response

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2003 Progress Report
  • 2004
  • 2005
  • Final Report