Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Monitoring Plan

Mar 1, 2008 | Data and Monitoring, Habitat and Coastal, Library

This document recommends multiple biological protocols and metrics for monitoring the condition of Great Lakes coastal wetlands – including those for plants, invertebrates, fish, amphibians, and birds. Also recommended is a design for sampling Great Lakes coastal wetlands that allows users to monitor condition of these wetlands on an annual basis.

Published 2008  |  Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Monitoring Plan – Download PDF
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Additional Information and Related Materials

The Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Monitoring Plan, completed in March 2008, represents nearly seven years of work by the Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Consortium that has resulted in a long-term plan to monitor Great Lakes coastal wetlands using a scientifically validated sampling design and suite of indicators and metrics developed by many project partners. The project was coordinated by staff of the Great Lakes Commission and funded by the U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office (Grant #GL-97547303). Partners included scientific and policy experts drawn from key U.S. and Canadian federal, state and provincial agencies, nongovernmental organizations, academia, and members of other interest groups with responsibility for coastal wetlands monitoring. The document will be of great value and benefit to agencies planning to incorporate coastal wetland monitoring into their overall monitoring strategy.

The Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Monitoring Plan recommends multiple biological protocols and metrics for monitoring the condition of Great Lakes coastal wetlands – including those for plants, invertebrates, fish, amphibians, and birds. Also recommended is a design for sampling Great Lakes coastal wetlands that allows users to monitor condition of these wetlands on an annual basis. With a combination of repeated site visits and random sampling of other wetlands on an annual basis, users can establish status and trends (positive, negative, no change) of wetland condition for a given site, region, or for all Great Lakes coastal wetlands.

What is the Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Consortium?
The Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Consortium consisted of scientific and policy experts drawn from key U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, state and provincial agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other interest groups with responsibility for coastal wetlands monitoring. Approximately two dozen agencies, organizations and institutions were brought into the Consortium as Project Management Team members. This is an unprecedented assembly of coastal wetlands expertise. In addition, other members were brought in as small project teams are formed to address discrete project elements and pilot studies. The Consortium was coordinated by staff at the Great Lakes Commission in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and was funded by the U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office in Chicago, Illinois.

What is the purpose of the Consortium?
The Consortium’s purpose was to design an implementable, long-term program to monitor Great Lakes coastal wetlands. This was being accomplished through the development of indicators to assess the condition of Great Lakes coastal wetlands. The selected indicators were selected through the State of the Lake Ecosystem Conference (SOLEC) process.

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Inventory and Classification

As part of Phase II of the Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Consortium program, a binational team completed a comprehensive Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Inventory. (See links to inventory data and metadata below.) Built upon the best coastal wetland data currently available and incorporating a standard classification process, the binational inventory provides a standard reference for the Great Lakes wetland community. The Inventory consists of wetland polygons and points, along with extensive attribute data, compiled from the best existing data sets throughout the basin. All the data have been standardized and the polygons have been stitched together into one seamless GIS coverage (see coverage metadata below for technical details).

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Links to Inventory and Metadata

This seamless inventory is now available to download. The Inventory is posted here in five components. The first three are coverages in ESRI export format. These are the original format. The inventory has also been converted to a shapefile and compressed to a zipfile, for those using earlier ESRI products. You will need to save these to your local computer before opening. The metadata can be viewed online and it is also part of the export package.

  1. The complete polygon coverage:  glcwc-cwi
  2. Coastal wetland centroid point coverage:  glcwc-cwi-xy
  3. Herdendorf wetland centroid point coverage — used for reference:  hwi-cwatlas
  4. The complete polygon coverage in shapefile format:  glcwc_cwi_polygon
  5. Link to product metadata

This dataset, a collaborative effort between Canada and the United States, is a basinwide digital coastal wetland inventory of all the Great Lakes coastal wetlands classified using the Consortium’s classification scheme (Albert, D.A., J. Ingram, T. Thompson, and D. Wilcox, on behalf of the Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Consortium, 2003). The inventory is the most broadly accessible, comprehensive binational collection of coastal wetlands in the U.S. Great Lakes Basin and will serve as the framework for long-term monitoring of coastal wetlands.

There is a related article, Hydrogeomorphic Classification for Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands, published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research in 2005.

The mapping of the U.S. coastal wetlands was done using geographic information systems (GIS) by the U.S. Geological Survey, Water Resources Discipline (USGS WRD) in Columbus, Ohio. The Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) identified and classified all coastal wetland complexes. Candian Wildlife Service – Environment Canada, in cooperation with Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, constructed the map for the Canadian coastal wetlands. A workshop was held to solicit input into both the mapping and classification aspects of the project on May 14, 2003 at the Great Lakes Commission offices in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The coastal wetland inventory is available for all eight states that surround the five Great Lakes: Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The corresponding Canadian dataset can be obtained from the Great Lakes Commission.

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Inventory and Classification Reports

Albert/Simonson (MNFI/USGS): Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Assessment and Classification (US)
Interim Report – October, 2003

Ingram/Potter: (EC/CWS, OMNR): Development of a Coastal Wetlands Database for the Great Lakes Canadian Shoreline
Final Report – February, 2004
Interim Report – October, 2003

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Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Inventory and Classification Documents and Presentations:

Summary of Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Classifications
Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Consortium Inventory and Mapping
Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands – Sampling and Classification Overview