Leveraging a Landscape-Level Monitoring and Assessment Program for Developing Resilient Shorelines throughout the Laurentian Great Lakes

Donald G. Uzarski, Douglas A. Wilcox, Valerie J. Brady, Matthew J. Cooper, Dennis A. Albert, Jan J.H. Ciborowski, Nicholas P. Danz, Anne Garwood, Joseph P. Gathman, Thomas M. Gehring, Greg P. Grabas, Robert W. Howe, Lucinda B. Johnson, Gary A. Lamberti, Ashley H. Moerke, Gerald J. Niemi, Todd Redder, Carl R. Ruetz, Alan D. Steinman, Douglas C. TozerT. Kevin O’Donnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Traditionally, ecosystem monitoring, conservation, and restoration have been conducted in a piecemeal manner at the local scale without regional landscape context. However, scientifically driven conservation and restoration decisions benefit greatly when they are based on regionally determined benchmarks and goals. Unfortunately, required data sets rarely exist for regionally important ecosystems. Because of early recognition of the extreme ecological importance of Laurentian Great Lakes coastal wetlands, and the extensive degradation that had already occurred, significant investments in coastal wetland research, protection, and restoration have been made in recent decades and continue today. Continued and refined assessment of wetland condition and trends, and the evaluation of restoration practices are all essential to ensuring the success of these investments. To provide wetland managers and decision makers throughout the Laurentian Great Lakes basin with the optimal tools and data needed to make scientifically-based decisions, our regional team of Great Lakes wetland scientists developed standardized methods and indicators used for assessing wetland condition. From a landscape perspective, at the Laurentian Great Lakes ecosystem scale, we established a stratified random-site-selection process to monitor birds, anurans, fish, macroinvertebrates, vegetation, and physicochemical conditions of coastal wetlands in the US and Canada. Monitoring of approximately 200 wetlands per year began in 2011 as the Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Monitoring Program. In this paper, we describe the development, delivery, and expected results of this ongoing international, multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder, landscape-scale monitoring program as a case example of successful application of landscape conservation design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1357-1366
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


  • Coastal wetlands
  • Ecosystem health
  • Monitoring
  • The Laurentian Great Lakes


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