Environmental indicators for the coastal region of the North American Great Lakes: Introduction and prospectus

Gerald J. Niemi, John R. Kelly, Nicholas P. Danz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


The Great Lakes coastal region is a dynamic area at the interface between land and water. It is heavily influenced by the magnitude of the large lakes themselves, by natural abiotic and biotic processes in the watershed, and especially by human activity. This special issue contains a series of 21 papers that are organized into four major themes: 1) landscape characterization and coastal linkage, 2) integration, 3) indicator development, and 4) supporting information. The results of these papers emphasize that many environmental response signals are linked to their physio-bio geographic location in the basin and with human activity in coastal watersheds or in the immediate coastal margin. If lake levels continue to fluctuate and decline, if the climate continues to warm, if agricultural activity expands, if exotic species continue to invade, and if the human population density in the watershed increases, then environmental indicators of the Great Lakes coastal region reported here will point to further degradation of water quality and native amphibian, bird, diatom, fish, macroinvertebrate, and wetland plant communities. These environmental indicators are benchmarks for the current conditions of the Great Lakes coastal region and provide measurable endpoints to assess the success of future management, conservation, protection, and restoration of this important resource.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Great Lakes Research
Issue numberSPEC. ISS. 3
StatePublished - 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant to Gerald Niemi from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Science to Achieve Results Estuarine and Great Lakes program through funding to the Great Lakes Environmental Indicators project, U.S. EPA Agreement EPA/R-8286750. This document has not been subjected to the agency’s required peer and policy review and therefore does not necessarily reflect the view of the agency, and no official endorsement should be inferred. This is contribution number 456 of the Center for Water and the Environment, Natural Resources Research Institute, University of Minnesota Duluth.


  • Disturbance
  • Great Lakes
  • Integration
  • Responses
  • Stressors
  • Watershed


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