Thursday, May 1, 2014

Using citizen data to study longterm trends in lakes

CSI limnology researchers have just published a paper in PLoS One examining long-term water clarity trends in Midwestern US lakes. There are not enough researchers or government agency staff to collect data on lakes every week, let alone every month, or even every year! But, citizens living on lakes can, and many do. Noah Lottig lead a team of CSI researchers to compile data from some of the more long-running citizen science programs in the Midwest, including MN, IA, MO, WI, IL, IN, MI and OH. Check out the paper to see what they found!

UW and NSF both wrote stories about this paper. Nice work Noah, Ty, Emily NH, Kendra, Kathy, John and Craig (co-authors on the paper)! Also, a big thanks to Ed Bissell for database support and guidance for this effort.

Photo: Kathy Webster
All of this is thanks in part to the dedicated citizens who have spent years sampling their lakes, agency personnel who  help train them and sometimes maintain the databases, and also to Father Pietro Angelo Secchi, a papal astronomer, who invented the Secchi disk well over a century ago. The picture to the right shows a monument to him in the Villa Borghese Park in Rome that some CSI members STUMBLED upon while strolling in Rome one day a few years ago. The black and white pattern attracted the attention of the limnologists, and they paid homage to this important limnological historical figure (perhaps involving some bowing). Meanwhile, observers walking by the photographer (our very own Kathy Webster) were heard saying, “tourists will take pictures of ANYTHING in Rome”.  

Our plan is to continue to build our large, geospatial database, LAGOS, by integrating limnological data such as these citizen datasets with data from: state & federal government, tribal, and university data sources as well as a large number of geographic data sources to address further basic and applied science questions across broad spatial and temporal scales. More to come!

Monday, February 10, 2014

CSI Limno making a splash in Frontiers

The new issue of ESA's journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment is out, and CSI Limnology has a prominent role. It is free for anyone to check out here: to the US NSF for paying for open access. 

This special issue is about a new field of research called Macrosystems Ecology
Check out MSU's press release about the special issue, including a short animation describing the new discipline, here:

NSF also issued a shorter and longer press release, both of which can be accessed here: and

Our leader, Dr. Pat Soranno, was co-editor of this special issue about Macrosystems Ecology. She co-authored the lead editorial about this new field of study (Macrosystems ecology: big data, big ecology: the first paper that describes this new field of science (Macrosystems ecology: understanding ecological patterns and processes at continental scales:

Many of the CSI Limnology team members are lead or co-authors on the five main papers in this special issue: 

And, there is a project paper all about CSIs, written by CSI-Limnology!  "Cross-scale interactions: quantifying multi-scaled cause–effect relationships in macrosystems" ( documents the importance of interactions across scales (time or space) for understanding large-scale ecological patterns and processes. We provide a conceptual framework for how to study CSIs and then apply that framework to lake data across 6 US states. Check it out! The whole issue, including online supplements can be found here:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

CSI Limnology - EUROPE!

A member of CSI Limnology is on sabbatical this year! Interested in learning more? Check out Kendra's blog about her experience at Queen's University Belfast (QUB - campus castle to the left) in Northern Ireland:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Local-scale? Continental-scale? What's in between? The REGIONAL scale!

In our new paper published this month in Ecological Applications (, we explored the important role of the regional spatial scale for understanding and managing lakes.

We found that the region that a lake is in really matters to its chemistry and nutrient levels. In other words, lakes that are closer together have more similar levels than lakes that are farther away. We actually quantified this pattern of different lake chemistry and nutrient levels depending on the region a lake is in, and showed how this approach could be used for studying other ecosystems.  We also studied the factors that make regions different from each other, such as the amount of forest land, agricultural land, and groundwater contribution, as well as the type of geology present.

Lots of research is conducted at the local-scale, such as within a lake, lake network, or ecological region (also called an ecoregion). On the other end of the spectrum, there is research being conducted at the continental and global scales. However, less research has been done on the intermediate, regional scale. One way that both terrestrial and aquatic scientists and managers have included the regional scale in their work is by grouping ecosystems within a 'regionalization framework' that is created by dividing a continent into contiguous, often hierarchical, discrete spatial units of similar landscape features that are sometimes called ecoregions or regions. However, there are many different regionalization frameworks to choose from, and none of these frameworks were created specifically to capture among-lake variation, which was the focus of our study. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Limnology fever

Just a little limnology fever in the MSU-Limnology lab this week. More posts to come. Sorry for the radio silence, but we have ALL been busy authoring metadata, converting files, QA/QC'ing beta-versions of LAGOS. So, lots of exciting news to be coming down the road soon!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Student/Temporary GIS Position

We are currently seeking a student or recent grad to work as a GIS Technician on the CSI-Limno project at MSU (East Lansing, Michgian) during summer 2013. Details below.......

Position Title: Student/Temporary GIS Technician
Start Date: May 13, 2013 (Negotiable)
End Date: August 23, 2013 (Negotiable)
Starting Wage: $10.00-11.00 per hour (Depending on Experience)
Schedule: 40 hours per week

We are looking for an undergraduate student or recent graduate to aid in GIS data processing and management of lake and landscape datasets in support of an NSF- funded interdisciplinary and collaborative Landscape Limnology study (www.fw.msu.ed/~llrg). The successful applicant should have an interest in the application of GIS technology to natural resources problems as well as techniques to automate data processing of large datasets. Experience with GIS software, specifically ArcGIS, either through previous employment or coursework is preferred but not required. The position will be based in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at MSU.

Candidates must be hard working, self-motivated and reliable. Strong teamwork skills, including excellent written and verbal communication skills are desired. Interested candidates should submit a resume, with the names of three references to Ed Bissell ( by April 19th, 2013. If you would like further information on the project, please contact Ed Bissell or Pat Soranno
( or see

Friday, March 15, 2013

Cast of CSI-characters at the Trout Lake workshop. We greatly missed those of you who couldn't make it (Mary, Ty and Paul), but have added your pictures below. You were with us in spirit!