US Long-Term Ecological Research Network

Biocomplexity at North Temperate Lakes LTER: Coordinated Field Studies: Riparian Littoral Sites 2001 - 2004

General descriptive data for sites sampled as part of the "cross-lake comparison" segment of the Biocomplexity Project (Landscape Context - Coordinated Field Studies). The goal of the study was to explore the links between terrestrial and aquatic systems across a gradient of residential development and lake landscape position. Specifically, this project attempted to relate the abundance of Coarse Wood in the littoral zone with abiotic, biotic and anthropogenic features of the adjacent shoreline. Sampling Frequency: each site sampled once Number of sites: 488 sites on 61 Vilas County lakes were sampled from 2001-2004 (approximately 15 different lakes each year; eight sites per lake).
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Study Lakes We selected 60 northern temperate lake sites in Vilas County, Wisconsin lake district. Methods for lake choice and sampling are given in greater detail in Marburg et al. (2005) Each lake was sampled once between 2001 and 2004, in June, July, or August (15 different lakes each summer). We chose stratified lakes deeper than 4 m to insure that all the lakes contained a diverse fish community. With two exceptions (chains of lakes), lakes were chosen to be in separate watersheds. Lakes were chosen based on two criteria landscape position, using historical DNR water conductivity data as a proxy of position, and riparian housing development, measured in buildings km-1 shoreline (Marburg et al. 2005). Landscape position refers to the location of a lake along the hydrological gradient. The gradient ranges from the top of a drainage system, where seepage lakes are fed mainly by rainwater, through lakes which receive water from groundwater and have surface outflows, to lakes further down in the drainage system, which receive water from both ground and surface flow (Kratz et al. 1997).Landscape position affects lake water chemistry, because as water flows across the surface and through soil, it picks up carbonates and other ions which increase the waters electrical conductivity (specific conductance, a temperature-independent measure of salinity), alkalinity, and its ability to support algal and macrophyte production. In addition, aspects of lake morphology correlate with landscape position. Most obviously, larger lakes tend to occur lower in drainage systems (Riera et al. 2000).The riparian (near-shore terrestrial) zone around northern Wisconsin lakes is being rapidly developed for use as both summer and permanent housing (Peterson et al., 2003). Concurrent with housing development, humans often directly and indirectly remove logs (Kratz et al. 2002) and aquatic vegetation (Radomski and Goeman 2001) from the littoral zone (near shore shallow water area), resulting in reduced littoral zone complexity. The slowly-decaying logs of fallen trees create physical structure (coarse woody habitat CWH) in the littoral zone of lakes that provides habitat and refuge for aquatic organisms (Christensen et al. 1996). Fish, including plankton-eating species (planktivores), reproduce and develop in shallow water (Becker 1983). Because planktivorous fish affect zooplankton community structure through size-selective predation (Brooks and Dodson 1965), there is the potential for indirect effects of housing development on zooplankton.Lakes ranged in size from 24 to 654 ha. In 2001, 2002 and 2004 we chose lakes from the extreme ends of the conductivity and housing density gradients and in 2003 lakes were chosen to fill in the gap in the middle of the ranges. The study lakes range from oligotrophic to mesotrophic (Kratz et al. 1997 Magnuson et al. 2005).At each lake we sampled zooplankton, water chemistry, riparian and littoral vegetation, fish, crayfish, and macrophytes. Each lake was sampled only once, but given the large number of lakes sampled in this area, we expect to see relationships between variables within lakes and at a landscape scale. A snapshot sampling design maximizes sites that can be visited, and is sufficient for a general characterization of zooplankton communities (Stemberger et al. greater than 001).
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