Lake Researchers Discover Early Signs of Lake Ecosystem Collapse

Don’t worry, it’s not Lake Wingra, yet.

Although Lake Wingra is in trouble, it’s not beyond the point of no return.

And more good news is that the findings by a collaborative group of universities,  including University of Wisconsin-Madison  limnologist Steve Carpenter and others at Madison,  could help alert ecosystem managers to any impending trouble soon enough to take corrective steps.  Carpenter and his fellow researchers studied and manipulated two lakes, Peter and Paul in northern Wisconsin.

According to a story in the “Restore” email bulletin of the Society for Ecological Restoration:

“The implications of the National Science Foundation-supported study are big, says Carpenter. They suggest that, with the right kind of monitoring, it may be possible to track the vital signs of any ecosystem and intervene in time to prevent what is often irreversible damage to the environment. ‘With more work, this could revolutionize ecosystem management,’ Carpenter avers. ‘The concept has now been validated in a field experiment and the fact that it worked in this lake opens the door to testing it in rangelands, forests and marine ecosystems.’ ”  Research results were reported in the April 29, issues of Science.  For  more information see coverage of this story in EurekAlert! 

Lake Wingra, an urban,  shallow, and nutrient rich lake is threatened by by land use changes, pollutants in storm water runoff, and lake weeds among other human impacts; as far as we know and within the limits of human knowledge.  Many people and organizations are taking actions to heal Lake Wingra.  Actions to improve water quality, increase spring flow, provide habitat for native plants and animals and to promote stewardship of the environment (For an overview of current efforts to help Lake Wingra, visit the Friends of Lake Wingra at and our pages Lake Wingra Watershed  and   Neighborhood-based restoration.

About Steve Glass

The blogger is a restoration ecologist, Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner (#0093 SER) and writer living in the Midwestern United States.
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