Wetland effects on lake water quality in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area

Naomi E. Detenbeck, Carol A. Johnston, Gerald J Niemi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


A method developed to evaluate the cumulative effect of wetland mosaics on water quality was applied to 33 lake watersheds in the seven-county region surrounding Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. A geographic information system (GIS) was used to record and measure landscape variables derived from aerial photos. Twenty-seven watershed land-use and land-cover variables were reduced to eight principal components which described 85% of the variance among watersheds. Relationships between lake water quality variables and the first six principal components plus an index of lake mixis were analyzed through stepwise multiple regression analysis. A combination of three landscape components (wetland/watershed area, agriculture/wetlands, and forest/soils components) explained 49% of the variance in a trophic state index, even though most of the lakes examined were already highly eutrophic, and thus were influenced by internal loading. The regression equations explained a range of 14 to 76% of the variation in individual water quality variables. Forested land-use was associated with lower lake trophic state, chloride, and lead. High lake trophic state was associated with agricultural land-use and with wetland distance from the lake of interest. The extent of wetlands was associated with low total lead and high color in lakes downstream. Wet meadows or herbaceous, seasonally-flooded wetlands contributed more to lake water color than did cattail marshes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-61
Number of pages23
JournalLandscape Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1993


  • Minnesota
  • lake water-quality
  • landscape
  • principal components analysis
  • wetlands


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