Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

Habitats and Species

The health of Great Lakes habitats and wildlife depends upon the protection and restoration of ecosystems. Fully resilient ecosystems buffer the impacts of potential problems such as climate change. A multitude of threats—among which is competition from invasive species—affect the health of Great Lakes habitats and wildlife and have led to an altered food web, loss of biodiversity, and, in places, poorly functioning ecosystems. As part of the GLRI, the USGS is working with others to support the protection and restoration of critical elements of the Great Lakes ecosystem by providing the science to restore native fishes in Great Lakes, restore coastal wetlands in the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and adjacent Lake Erie, develop breakthroughs in the prediction and prevention of botulism outbreaks that affect fish and fish-eating birds, and survey food-web interactions within all five Great Lakes.

Filter Total Items: 14
Date published: March 25, 2020
Status: Active

Aquatic Native Species and Habitat Restoration: Custodial Maintenance of Fish Spawning Reefs

To ensure the long-term viability and function of constructed fish spawning reefs in the St. Clair-Detroit River System (SCDRS), periodic maintenance and repair of the reefs are required. To remove sediment from reefs, researchers developed a portable pressurized water jet that can be deployed by a small vessel. Reef cleaning experiments were conducted during late summer and fall of 2018, with...

Date published: March 25, 2020
Status: Active

Foundations for Future Restoration Actions: Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative - Lake Ontario, 2018

Environmental organizations from the United States and Canada have teamed up each year, as part of the Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative (CSMI) program, to assess conditions in one of the five Great Lakes. . Each year, the survey focuses on a series of research areas, such as phosphorus and nitrogen input and movement through the food web, phytoplankton and zooplankton populations...

Contacts: Brian Lantry, James Watkins, Christopher M. Pennuto, Jacques Rinchard, Ph.D.
Date published: March 25, 2020
Status: Active

Aquatic Native Species and Habitat Restoration: Cisco Spawning Habitat Assessment

Cisco (formerly known as Lake Herring) Coregonus artedi are native shallow water coregonines which were formerly very abundant in the Great Lakes and provided large commercial fisheries and healthy prey to native piscivores.  In most areas outside of Lake Superior, cisco abundance is greatly reduced and in Lakes Ontario and Erie they are uncommon to rare.

Date published: March 25, 2020
Status: Active

Aquatic Native Species and Habitat Restoration: Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Restoration and Functional Assessment Tools

USGS scientists developed the Restoration Assessment decision support tool to help resource managers prioritize where to invest in restoration activities, and the Functional Assessment analysis tool which will help managers quantify changes in ecosystem services associated with restoration actions.

Date published: November 25, 2019
Status: Active

Aquatic Native Species and Habitat Restoration: Coregonine Restoration

Human activities have greatly impacted fish populations in the Great Lakes, including various Coregonus species such as deepwater cisco (e.g. bloater (Coregonus hoyi) and lake herring (Coregonus. artedi). The USGS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), National Park Service (NPS), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Department of State (DOS) and Great Lakes Fishery...

Contacts: Kurt R Newman
Date published: November 22, 2019
Status: Active

Aquatic Native Species and Habitat Restoration: Post-construction Evaluation of the Detroit River, Fort Wayne Fish Spawning Reef

In coordination with the 2019 Lake Erie Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative (CSMI) assessment activities, scientists from the USGS, Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MI DNR), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF), and Michigan Sea Grant, partnered in several fish spawning habitat restoration projects in the Detroit...

Date published: November 22, 2019
Status: Active

Aquatic Native Species and Habitat Restoration: Restoring native freshwater fish populations

USGS is working to help restore Atlantic salmon, bloater and cisco populations in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River as part of the Coregonid Restoration effort. These three key species of the native Lake Ontario fish community are extirpated (Atlantic salmon and bloater) or are at low levels of former abundance (cisco).

Date published: November 21, 2019
Status: Active

Terrestrial Native Species and Habitat Restoration: Pitcher’s Thistle (Cirsium pitcheri)

Pitcher’s thistle (Cirsium pitcher) is a native thistle that grows on beaches and grassland dunes along the shorelines of Lakes Michigan, Superior, and Huron. It has been listed as a threatened species likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future due to loss of critical dune habitat. Shoreline development and destructive recreational activities have fragmented remaining...

Contacts: Noel Pavlovic
Date published: November 21, 2019
Status: Active

Terrestrial Native Species and Habitat Restoration: Kirtland’s Warbler Cowbird Control

By 1971, 69% of Kirtland’s warbler (a rare songbird with a limited breeding range in southern Ontario and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan) nests were parasitized by Brown-headed Cowbirds (a parasitic brood bird native to the Great Plains), resulting in less than one young Kirtland’s warbler produced per nest. Cowbird trapping began in 1972, and parasitism rates were quickly reduced to around 6...

Contacts: Ralph Grundel
Date published: November 18, 2019
Status: Active

Areas of Concern: Coordinated Support and Evaluation of the Maumee AOC

USGS scientists help support habitat assessment and restoration in the Maumee area of concern (AOC) to determine the extent to which beneficial uses are impaired and the types of management actions required to remediate and delist the AOC.

Date published: November 14, 2019
Status: Active

Terrestrial Native Species Habitat Restoration: Restore Native Dunes and Oak Savanna

USGS scientists are collaborating with the National Park Service (NPS) to evaluate oak savanna restoration efforts in the Great Lakes by evaluating the success of different treatments in the southern basin and testing the efficacy of interseeding as a restoration tool.

Contacts: Noel Pavlovic
Date published: November 7, 2019
Status: Active

Aquatic Native Species and Habitat Restoration: Quantifying Coregonine Habitat Use Dynamics

Restoring and maintaining extent of native coregonid populations in the Great Lakes is a basin-wide priority. In response, an adaptive framework has identified knowledge gaps associated with spatial dynamics and stock diversity. This project used the Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative (CSMI) with an incredible in-kind support from agencies and universities from across the region to...

Contacts: Brian C Weidel