LAGOS-NE: A multi-scaled geospatial and temporal database of lake ecological context and water quality for thousands of US lakes

Patricia A. Soranno, Linda C. Bacon, Michael Beauchene, Karen E. Bednar, Edward G. Bissell, Claire K. Boudreau, Marvin G. Boyer, Mary T. Bremigan, Stephen R. Carpenter, Jamie W. Carr, Kendra S. Cheruvelil, Samuel T. Christel, Matt Claucherty, Sarah M. Collins, Joseph D. Conroy, John A. Downing, Jed Dukett, C. Emi Fergus, Christopher T. Filstrup, Clara FunkMaria J. Gonzalez, Linda T. Green, Corinna Gries, John D. Halfman, Stephen K. Hamilton, Paul C. Hanson, Emily N. Henry, Elizabeth M. Herron, Celeste Hockings, James R. Jackson, Kari Jacobson-Hedin, Lorraine L. Janus, William W. Jones, John R. Jones, Caroline M. Keson, Katelyn B.S. King, Scott A. Kishbaugh, Jean Francois Lapierre, Barbara Lathrop, Jo A. Latimore, Yuehlin Lee, Noah R. Lottig, Jason A. Lynch, Leslie J. Matthews, William H. McDowell, Karen E.B. Moore, Brian P. Neff, Sarah J. Nelson, Samantha K. Oliver, Michael L. Pace, Donald C. Pierson, Autumn C. Poisson, Amina I. Pollard, David M. Post, Paul O. Reyes, Donald O. Rosenberry, Karen M. Roy, Lars G. Rudstam, Orlando Sarnelle, Nancy J. Schuldt, Caren E. Scott, Nicholas K. Skaff, Nicole J. Smith, Nick R. Spinelli, Joseph J. Stachelek, Emily H. Stanley, John L. Stoddard, Scott B. Stopyak, Craig A. Stow, Jason M. Tallant, Pang Ning Tan, Anthony P. Thorpe, Michael J. Vanni, Tyler Wagner, Gretchen Watkins, Kathleen C. Weathers, Katherine E. Webster, Jeffrey D. White, Marcy K. Wilmes, Shuai Yuan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Understanding the factors that affect water quality and the ecological services provided by freshwater ecosystems is an urgent global environmental issue. Predicting how water quality will respond to global changes not only requires water quality data, but also information about the ecological context of individual water bodies across broad spatial extents. Because lake water quality is usually sampled in limited geographic regions, often for limited time periods, assessing the environmental controls of water quality requires compilation of many data sets across broad regions and across time into an integrated database. LAGOS-NE accomplishes this goal for lakes in the northeastern-most 17 US states. LAGOS-NE contains data for 51 101 lakes and reservoirs larger than 4 ha in 17 lake-rich US states. The database includes 3 data modules for: lake location and physical characteristics for all lakes; ecological context (i.e., the land use, geologic, climatic, and hydrologic setting of lakes) for all lakes; and in situ measurements of lake water quality for a subset of the lakes from the past 3 decades for approximately 2600-12 000 lakes depending on the variable. The database contains approximately 150 000 measures of total phosphorus, 200 000 measures of chlorophyll, and 900 000 measures of Secchi depth. The water quality data were compiled from 87 lake water quality data sets from federal, state, tribal, and non-profit agencies, university researchers, and citizen scientists. This database is one of the largest and most comprehensive databases of its type because it includes both in situ measurements and ecological context data. Because ecological context can be used to study a variety of other questions about lakes, streams, and wetlands, this database can also be used as the foundation for other studies of freshwaters at broad spatial and ecological scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The water quality data that are incorporated into LAGOS-NE were originally funded by the following sources: State of Maine; Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station; Fisheries Division, Michigan Department of Natural Resources; New York State Division of Water Quality; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; University of Wisconsin-Madison; State/Trust; Michigan State University Agriculture Experimental Station Disciplinary Research Grant Program; US EPA; US EPA Section 106/319 Grants; Tribal General Fund; US Army Corps of Engineers Federal Lakes Operation and Maintenance Funds; Aquatic Plant Management Society; Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Foundation; Michigan State University; Michigan State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife; EPA Star Fellowship to K.S.C. (U-915342–01-0); Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Program (Grant F-69-P, Fish Management in Ohio) administered jointly by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife; Iowa Department of Natural Resources (Contract #ESD04HALFasch110155); Minnesota Pollution Control Agency; NSF-Division of Environmental Biology; Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife; University of Rhode Island Watershed Watch; NSF Kellogg Biological Station Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program, DEB 1027253; NSF North Temperate Lakes LTER Program, DEB 1440297; Lac du Flambeau Band and Bureau of Indian Affairs; Indiana Department of Environmental Management; Missouri Department of Natural Resources; Clean Water Act Section 16; Michigan Department of Environmental Quality; Massachusetts Water Supply Protection Trust; US EPA Clean Air Markets Division (LTM Network); US EPA Office of Research and Development; New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYSDEP); City of New York; USGS Water Availability and Use Science Program (WAUSP); US Geological Survey; New York State Energy Research and Development Authority; National Institute of Food and Agriculture, US Department of Agriculture, Hatch Grant 1003732; the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; Lake Sunapee Protective Association; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Gull Lake Quality Organization; Clean Michigan Initiative; NSF grant DEB-1455461.

Funding Information:
This extensive effort was supported by a US National Science Foundation grant that totaled $2.4 million, along with resources from other projects. Our team ranged in size from 14–20 individuals across the 6 years of the project, with many members compiling and integrating data, authoring metadata, creating new data products, and implementing quality control procedures, resulting in a tremendous number of person-hours. However, when one considers the cost of the data collection for the water quality data in the first place, the expense of this postprocessing integration work is not as large as it sounds. Sprague et al. [16] suggest that a single sample (estimated for collecting nutrient or chemistry data from streams) ranged in cost from $2000 to $6000 per sample. If we assume similar rates for lake sampling, but lower the cost as some aspects of lake sampling may be cheaper than stream sampling and multiply that cost (estimated as $1000–$4000 US) by the total number of records of nutrient or chemical samples in LAGOS-NE (n = 589 909), then the combined estimate to collect the water quality data found in

Funding Information:
1Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA, 2Department of Environmental Protection, State of Maine, Augusta, ME 04330, USA, 3Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, State of Connecticut, Hartford, CT 06106, USA, 4Water Resources Program, Lac du Flambeau Tribal Natural Resources, Lac du Flambeau, WI, USA, 5Environmental Planning, US Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City, MO 64106, USA, 6Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin Madison, Madison, WI 53706 USA, 7Office of Watershed Management, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, West Boylston, MA 10583, USA, 8Watershed Protection, Tipp of the Mitt Watershed Council, Petoskey, MI 49770, USA, 9Division of Wildlife, Inland Fisheries Research Unit, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Hebron, OH 43025, USA, 10Large Lakes Observatory, University of Minnesota, Duluth, MN 55812 USA, 11Adirondack Lake Survey Corporation, Ray Brook, NY 12977 USA, 12National Research Council, US Environmental Protection Agency, Corvallis, OR 97333, USA, 13Office of Air and Radiation, US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC 20460, USA, 14Department of Biology, Miami University, Oxford, OH 45056, USA, 15Natural Resource Science, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02892 USA, 16Geoscience, Hobart & William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY 14456 USA, 17Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan State University, Hickory Corners, MI 49060, USA, 18Outreach and Engagement, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA, 19Watershed Watch, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881, USA, 20Natural Resource Department, Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Lac du Flambeau, WI 54538, USA, 21Department of Natural Resources, Cornell University, Bridgeport, NY, USA, 22Office of Water Protection, Fond du Lac Reservation, Cloquet, MN 55720 USA, 23Bureau of Water Supply, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Valhalla, NY 10560, USA, 24School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47408, USA, 25School of Natural Resources, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA, 26Natural Resource Department, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Harbor Springs, MI 49740, USA, 27Division of Water, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY 12233, USA, 28Department of Biological Science, University of Montreal, Montreal Quebec, Canada, H3C 3J7, 29Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, State of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, PA 17101 USA, 30Office of Watershed Management, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, Belchertown, MA 01007, USA, 31Trout Lake Research Station, University of Wisconsin, Boulder Junction, WI 54512, USA, 32Lakes and Ponds Program, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, Montpelier, VT 05620, USA, 33Natural Resources and the Environment, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824, USA, 34Water Quality Science and Research, New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Kingston, NY 12401, USA, 35National Research Program, USGS, Denver CO 80225, USA, 36School of Forest Resources, University of Maine, Orono, ME, USA, 37Department of Environmental Science, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22904, USA, 38Department of Ecology and Genetics, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden, 39Office of Water, US EPA, Washington, DC 20460, USA, 40Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, Connecticut 06511, USA, 41National Research Program, USGS, Denver, CO 80225, USA, 42Division of Air Resources, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Ray Brook, NY 12977, USA, 43Department of Natural Resources, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA, 44Environmental Program, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Cloquet, MN 55720, USA, 45Aquatic Science, NEON, Boulder, CO 80301, USA, 46Watershed Management, Lake Wallenpaupack Watershed Management District, Hawley, PA, USA, 47Western Ecology Division, Office of Research and Development, US EPA, Corvallis, OR 97333, USA, 48Technology Services, Eaton County, Charlotte, MI, USA, 49Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab, NOAA, Ann Arbor, MI 47176, USA, 50Biological Station, University of Michigan, Pellston, MI 49769, USA, 51Computer Science and Engineering,

Funding Information:
The creation of LAGOS-NE was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) MacroSystems Biology Program in the Emerging Frontiers Division of the Biological Sciences Directorate (EF-1065786, EF-1638679, EF-1065649, EF-1065818, EF-1638554) and the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Hatch project 176820 to P.A.S. K.E.W. thanks the STRIVE Programme (2011-W-FS-7) from the Environmental Protection Agency, Ireland. S.M.C. thanks the NSF Division of Biological Infrastructure (1401954).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2017.


  • Ecological context
  • Lake database
  • Lake eutrophication
  • Lake trophic state
  • Nutrients
  • Open science
  • Water quality


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