Newsroom Midwest Region

July 16, 2013

Ashley Spratt, 573-234-2132 ext. 104

Upper Midwest and Great Lakes to benefit from nearly $1 million investment in stakeholder-driven research

Hunting, fishing, and other wildlife-related recreation in the United States is estimated to contribute $122 billion to our nation’s economy annually. USFWS photo.
Hunting, fishing, and other wildlife-related recreation in the United States is estimated to contribute $122 billion to our nation’s economy annually. USFWS photo.

The Upper Midwest and Great Lakes Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) is investing $957,024 in funding this year to support five ongoing and six new stake-holder driven research projects targeting broad-scale natural resources issues across the upper Midwest and Great Lakes landscape.

“As members of the LCC community, state and federal natural resources agencies, along with private and non-profit partners are working side-by-side to address the most challenging stressors impacting our natural resources today,” said Becky Humphries, LCC co-chair and Director of Ducks Unlimited, Inc.’s Great Lakes/Atlantic Region. “Climate change, habitat fragmentation, shifts in land-use – these are all big-ticket challenges that take our collective efforts to effectively address as a conservation community.”

This year, LCC partners identified waterfowl conservation, climate and socioeconomic impacts to fish habitat, State Wildlife Action Plan coordination, science communication, and stakeholder values to be among the top shared priority areas for science research.

“It’s critical that we pool our collective resources moving forward to ensure the most effective on-the-ground conservation and management,” said Dave Scott, LCC co-chair and Assistant Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Midwest Region. “Landscape conservation means building shared objectives for conservation to achieve the best results across a broad geographic area, and basing those objectives on the best science available.”

The following new research proposals received $516,869 in funding from the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes LCC this year.

Assessment of Waterfowl Habitat Restoration as an Adaptive Mechanism for Water Sustainability in the Grand Kankakee River Watershed - University of Notre Dame
Researchers with the University of Notre Dame will model hydrology and ecology of the Kankakee River watershed, historically, at present, and under climate change scenarios to assess restoration of wetlands and waterfowl habitat in the proposed Grand Kankakee Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. This study will provide natural resources managers with a better understanding of the effects of waterfowl habitat restoration on local economies, agriculture, urbanization and outdoor recreation opportunities.

Toward Outcome-oriented Forest Conservation: Building Capacity and Momentum for Collaborative Management in the Northwoods - The Nature Conservancy
Led by The Nature Conservancy, researchers will conduct workshops, webinars and interviews with natural resources managers and other relevant stakeholders to develop a comprehensive assessment of goals, resources, and constraints to collaborative management in forested systems of the Northwoods.

Integrated Models for Estimating Influences of Climate Change on Waterfowl Populations, Waterfowl Habitat, and Hunter Opportunity and Demographics - Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
Delayed and reduced migration of waterfowl to traditional wintering areas has ecological, cultural and economic implications. Researchers with Ducks Unlimited, Inc. will examine the influences of climate change on waterfowl populations and habitat, and ultimately opportunities for waterfowl hunting by characterizing predicted population distributions in winter and fall. 

Facilitating the Effectiveness of State Wildlife Action Plans at Multiple Scales in the Upper Midwest & Great Lakes LCC - Michigan Natural Features Inventory
Researchers with the Michigan Natural Features Inventory aim to enhance the regional effectiveness of State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAP) and the ability of the LCC to identify regional priorities by engaging with SWAP coordinators and LCC staff in the creation of detailed best practices and learning resources. 

Assessing Threats to the Recovery of Imperiled Freshwater Mussels: Improving the Use of the Mussel Threats Geospatial Database and Investigating Water Quality Limiting Factors - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Many mussel species are in decline caused by a variety of limiting factors.  A geospatial database aggregates and spatially analyzes information on eight species of freshwater mussels and their associated threats.  This project will use a systematic approach to identify chemical, physical, and biological stressors impacting mussels.  Field sampling will address data gaps related to water quality stressors limiting mussel populations.

Identifying Regional Priority Areas for Focusing Conservation Actions in Streams and Grasslands - Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Across the upper Midwest region, native grassland complexes have been severely lost due to development, conversion to agriculture, or lack of disturbance leading to vegetative succession.  Similarly, streams throughout the Midwest have been degraded due to development, agriculture, dams and the introduction of invasive species.  This project will begin to develop the needed regional tools to identify suitable habitat for selected species of greatest conservation need across Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin and develop regional conservation focal areas for grasslands and streams, which will be incorporated into State Wildlife Action Plans for partner states.

The following existing research projects received $440,155 in additional funding from the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes LCC this year:

Bridging Conservation Science and Management: Establishing a Great Lakes Information Management and Delivery System - The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy is continuing the development of an integrated web-based Great Lakes Information Management and Delivery System to facilitate the process of adaptive management and aid in the development of shared conservation objectives for natural resources across the Great Lakes. The system will be prototyped for key conservation topics including aquatic connectivity, State Wildlife Action Plans and coastal wetlands and estuaries in 2013.

Regional Risk Assessment for Climate Vulnerable Terrestrial Species - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources led an effort among scientists and natural resource managers to identify priority terrestrial wildlife species that may be especially vulnerable to impacts of climate change. A vulnerability assessment has been completed for the Eastern massasauga rattlesnake and the assessment for ruffed grouse is ongoing. Researchers are forging ahead with quantitative vulnerability assessments for two additional species to determine how climate change may impact future distribution and abundance.

Developing Fish Trophic Interaction Indicators of Climate Change for the Great Lakes - US Geological Survey – Great Lakes Science Center
This ongoing project addresses regional climate change effects on aquatic food webs in the Great Lakes, and is developing fishery management tools that characterize food web changes to support efficient monitoring and adaptive management. Researchers are developing a comparative analysis of trophic interactions in fisheries from three areas of Lake Erie representing scenarios that may occur in other Great Lakes if current climate trends continue.

Optimizing Connectivity in the Great Lakes Basin to Restore Native Fish Migrations While Controlling Invasive Species - University of Wisconsin – Center for Limnology
Ecological connectivity between the Great Lakes and their tributaries is widely impaired, and many agencies and organizations are investing in restoring these connections to enhance fish and wildlife populations. To assist in targeting these investments, spatial data on the location and attributes of barriers (dams and road-stream crossings) throughout the Great Lakes basin is being synthesized and used to analyze the optimal strategy for enhancing connectivity to restore fish migrations.

Predicting Climate Change Effects on Riverine Aquatic Insects Using Museum Data and Niche Modeling  - Illinois Natural History Survey
Aquatic insect museum data, environmental data from the Great Lakes Aquatic Gap Program, the National Hydrography Dataset, and climate change projections from University of Wisconsin are being used to model the occurrence aquatic insects and assess how climate change will affect their distributions and connectivity between populations.

The Upper Midwest and Great Lakes Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC), established in 2010, is focused on a diverse range of fish, wildlife and other natural resources that transcend state and international borders. This includes the Great Lakes, North America’s largest freshwater resource, coastal wetlands, boreal forests, major river systems and prairie-hardwood ecosystems. Many of these ecosystems surround heavily populated urban centers creating both resource challenges and opportunities. For more information, visit

The Upper Midwest and Great Lakes LCC is among 22 similar partnerships that collectively form a national network of land, water, wildlife and cultural resource managers, scientists, and interested public and private organizations—within the U.S. and across our international borders—that share a common need for scientific information in conservation. For more information about LCCs, visit