Water and the Environment

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    Results of Pre-Treatment Habitat and Biota Surveys from the Knife River, MN below County Road 11
    (University of Minnesota Duluth, 2022-12) Dumke, Josh; Wellard-Kelly, Holly
    This report follows the same layout and data summaries as reports provided to the Lake Superior Steelhead Association (LSSA) in recent years (Dumke and Wellard-Kelly, 2017, 2018). … The Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) was contracted in 2021 by LSSA to conduct pre-treatment stream surveys of habitat, fish, macroinvertebrates, and water chemistry from a segment of the Knife River main stem below County Road 11, which is planned to receive habitat improvement work in the future. We also measured all the same parameters in another reach not expected to undergo any treatment to serve as a reference for later comparisons. This before-after, control-impact (BACI) design is our standard for attributing changes over time to specific treatments applied to the stream and is useful in evaluating changes caused by habitat improvement projects. In total, two river reaches (a treatment and a reference station) were surveyed by NRRI. In September of 2021 NRRI completed surveys of stream habitat, macroinvertebrates, and water chemistry within both reaches, and completed electrofishing within the reference reach. However, the electrofishing of the treatment reach could not be completed in 2021 due to a combination of rain events causing high flows, upstream construction causing muddy water, and a September 15th stop on electrofishing to protect fall-spawning Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis. Therefore, NRRI and LSSA agreed to extend the work contract and NRRI would re-survey fish at the end of June 2022 before new stream construction projects would begin again. We found that all reaches had water quality parameters acceptable for all salmonid species present in the Knife River watershed, at least at the times of our sampling. Among all our fish surveys we collected young-of-year (YOY, aka age0) and age1+ Rainbow Trout Oncorhynchus mykiss, Brown Trout Salmo trutta, and Brook Trout. Our September 2021 survey of the reference reach captured 67 age0 Rainbow Trout, so we know Rainbow Trout are using this area for some reproduction. Electrofishing surveys in June 2022 captured only 1 age0 Rainbow Trout, but the low capture during these surveys may be attributable to the early timing when age0 Rainbow Trout were still too small to be effectively sampled. However, both stream reaches were dominated by non-game fishes, and the total count of trout species contributed less than 10% to the fish assemblage. Macroinvertebrate communities were generally similar between the reference and treatment reaches, but the treatment reach had a slightly higher quality macroinvertebrate assemblage. Reference and treatment reaches both had occurrences of bank erosion, fine sediment comprised on average 30-40% of the stream bed, and coarse substrates were, on average, 20-30% embedded by fines. All of these things contribute to loss of living space among the stream rocks for aquatic macroinvertebrates.
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    Aquatic Habitat Mapping in the St. Louis River Estuary
    (University of Minnesota Duluth, 2020-06) Reschke, Carol; Hill, Craig
    The goal of this project has been to use data from recent aquatic vegetation sampling in the St. Louis River estuary to refine aquatic habitat maps for four restoration sites and four reference sites that can serve as models for restoration design and management. These aquatic habitat maps are designed for use by resource managers working to restore impaired habitats. St. Louis River estuary restoration plans are part of the multi-agency St. Louis River Area of Concern Remedial Action Plan (RAP) to restore fish and wildlife habitats and remove impairments that led to listing the St. Louis River as a Great Lakes Area of Concern (MPCA and WDNR 2013). This 12,000-acre freshwater estuary was designated an Area of Concern in the 1980s because legacy contaminants and disturbances led to nine key impairments, including loss of fish and wildlife habitat. Current restoration plans rely on aquatic habitat maps prepared for the 2002 Lower St. Louis River Habitat Plan (Appendix 1, Map 1); the original aquatic habitat polygons were drawn using minimal data on aquatic vegetation (SLRCAC 2002). The classification of aquatic habitats used in the 2002 Habitat Plan was qualitative, based primarily on the extensive expertise of local fisheries biologists. Since 2008, biologists in Minnesota and Wisconsin have conducted field surveys yielding over 3000 samples for aquatic and wetland vegetation in 23 key restoration and reference sites within the estuary. The objectives of this project were to 1) identify restoration site mapping priorities and appropriate reference sites, and compile existing data on aquatic vegetation, water depths, and wind fetch as characterized by relative exposure index (REI) for the estuary; 2) run hydrodynamic models for at least four scenarios of river discharge and Lake Superior water levels and extract data on water velocities and temperatures at vegetation sample sites; 3) use multivariate analyses to classify aquatic habitats based on aquatic and wetland plant communities and associated environmental data, and prepare habitat maps and supporting data for four restoration sites and four reference sites; and 4) share progress on this project with estuary resource managers at least five times during the project period, at meetings of the St. Louis River Estuary Habitat Work Group.
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    Superior Streams Algal Assessment Protocol
    (University of Minnesota Duluth, 2019-09-30) Ruzycki, Elaine; Axler, Richard P
    This project involved collaboration between the University of MN- Duluth, the City of Duluth, the MPCA, and a new Citizen Science/Crowdsourcing collaborative to develop quantitative and semi-quantitative protocols for assessing the biomass of periphyton (algae attached to rocks) during summer in Duluth Area trout streams for use by professional aquatic scientists and by citizen scientists. Traditional techniques based on chlorophyll-a and organic matter from rock scrapes (adapted from EPA and USGS) were combined with Visual Assessment techniques developed and well vetted in New Zealand and Montana. Summer 2018 and 2019 measurements established baseline conditions for trout streams currently being assessed as part of a State led WRAPS (Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy) demonstration project for Duluth’s 43 named streams. In addition, historical periphyton data generated by federal and university research projects over the past 20 years were compiled and summarized to allow for a first assessment of the temporal and spatial patterns in wadeable stream algae in the region. The Visual Assessment tools were tested for potential use in a new citizen science and crowd sourcing collaborative in the western Lake Superior region promoting participatory public engagement to improve watershed and water resource understanding and stewardship in the Lake Superior Basin. Results and protocols are described and disseminated to the public and stakeholder groups via the LakeSuperiorstreams.org website. Overall Project Objectives 1. Generate baseline quantitative (epilithic algal biomass/m2 of rock substrate) and semi-quantitative (visual assessment index and images) periphyton data from designated trout streams in the Duluth Area in summer 2018-9 for use by MPCA and MDNR in assessing the condition of these streams and for potential inclusion in the State’s water resource assessment process. 2. Develop and field test an attached algal biomass index (epilithic [rock substrate] periphyton) for use in Lake Superior Basin trout streams adapted from existing federal (EPA, USGS), international (New Zealand), and state (Montana, California) protocols for wadeable streams and lakeshores. It will build on a prior MLSCP funded project for the Superior shoreline. 3. Compile and report to the State comparable historic attached trout stream algae data collected since 1996 by EPA-MED and NRRI/UMD scientists along with 2017 data for MPCA and MDNR to use in determining temporal trends, comparing streams, and examining longitudinal changes within several trout streams having a gradient of watershed land use and land cover. 4. Promote a new tool for use by citizen scientists in the western Lake Superior region, especially the St. Louis River RiverWatch community (serving ~ 800 students each year). The sites established for testing the tool will be drawn from a newly created set of CrowdHydrology.org in Duluth sites (within a national USGS network) that was funded by MLSCP in collaboration with MPCA’s current Duluth Metropolitan Area WRAPS project for protecting Duluth’s urban trout streams. 5. All data and information, and its rationale will be made available via tabulations, map-based data finders, and narrative statements on the LakeSuperiorStreams.org for use by partner outreach professionals (MN and WI Sea Grant, LS NERR, UMN-Extension, MPCA, MDNR, RSPT, et al.) in helping people better understand how streams “work”, and how negative impacts on habitat and aquatic organisms and water quality can result from inadequate land use planning and implementation.
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    Avian Surveys for the St. Louis River Natural Areas Project: Submitted to Minnesota Land Trust
    (University of Minnesota Duluth, 2019-02) Liljenquist, Alexis L
    In 2018, researchers from the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) at the University of Minnesota Duluth conducted bird surveys along the St. Louis River Estuary (SLRE) in nine project areas nominated for inclusion in the Duluth Natural Areas Program (DNAP). The DNAP was created in 2002 to manage Duluth’s environmentally significant areas to ensure the preservation of services and values, such as habitat diversity and water quality (Duluth Natural Areas Program Guidelines 2002). To assess the importance of the SLRE to birds, we conducted surveys throughout spring migration, the breeding season, and fall migration. In total, we documented 13,953 individuals of 169 species. We summarized bird use of the nine project areas based on abundance and diversity by guild classification within each season. All nine project areas in the nominated tract (i.e. SLRE) meet the conditions for ‘Important Bird Congregation Area’ based on nomination criteria outlined by DNAP. The western tip of Lake Superior is a well-known corridor for migrating birds, which funnel along the shore, using forests, wetlands, and shoreline habitat, to rest and refuel during both north and southbound migration. This study highlights the importance of the SLRE for breeding birds and as stopover habitat for a wide diversity of migratory birds, including 50 species of conservation concern.
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    Bayfield County Forest Breeding Bird Survey Modeling Report
    (University of Minnesota Duluth, 2019-02) Walton, Nicholas G; Kolbe, Stephen; Grinde, Alexis R
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    Assessing Acid‐Sensitive Lakes in the Superior National Forest
    (University of Minnesota Duluth, 2019-04) Ruzycki, Elaine; Henneck, Jerald; Bartsch, Will; Axler, Richard P
    This collaboration between the Superior National Forest unit of the US Forest Service (USFS SNF) and the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) began in late 2015 and has continued since. Initial discussions, with additional input from MPCA staff, led to four main goals, all intended to increase SNF’s long-term ability to determine the present condition of their lakes and if statistically significant trends exist: (1) Assess the current water quality – in particular, the acid neutralizing capacity (ANC) – of three SNF study lakes in northeastern Minnesota by analyzing a suite of major ions and nutrients in samples collected by FS staff; (2) Compile available historical SNF lake water quality data, assure the quality of these data, and then combine them into a searchable database; (3) Conduct exploratory statistical analyses to identify long-term trends in any of the datasets; and (4) Compare SNF lake summary statistics to those for lakes within the broader Upper Midwest ecoregion determined by the US EPA National Lakes Assessment (NLA) and by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) for the Laurentian mixed forest (# 212) province.
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    Acoustic Bat Research at Lake Vermilion – Soudan Underground Mine State Park in 2018
    (University of Minnesota Duluth, 2018-12) Moen, Ronald; Swingen, Morgan
    The Soudan Mine at Lake Vermilion – Soudan Underground Mine State Park (LVSUMSP) is the largest known bat hibernacula in Minnesota. In 2012, the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome (WNS) was detected in Soudan Underground Mine, and the first bats at this hibernaculum with WNS symptoms were observed during the winter of 2015–2016. The appearance of WNS, observations of dead and dying bats by park staff, and no northern long-eared bats being observed in 2017 winter surveys was cause for concern. In this report we summarize bat call data collected at the Alaska shaft and the No. 8 mine shaft at the Soudan Mine in the spring and fall of 2018. We also include a subset of the bat call data collected in 2017 in this report, as well as data from the 2004 acoustic detector work (Nordquist et al. 2006). A consistent pattern over the past two years of acoustic detection at the LVSUMSP is that the little brown bat is by far the most common species present at the mine shafts. The second most common species is the northern long-eared bat. Little brown bats had begun emerging from the mine shafts in mid-April when we first deployed detectors. There was a linear trend in increasing numbers of bat call files recorded / night until the end of May when detectors were removed. There were more little brown bats recorded / night at the No. 8 shaft in 2004, while currently there are more bat call files recorded / night at the Alaska shaft. In the fall the number of little brown bats recorded remained constant at about 5,000 calls / night at the Alaska shaft until mid-October. As in the spring, there were fewer bat calls / night, in contrast, at the No. 8 shaft. Calls of other bat species are identified in relatively low numbers, less than 1% of the total number of calls except for the hoary bat. The timing of spring emergence and fall swarming was similar in 2004, 2017, and 2018, but there seemed to be more bat call files recorded in 2004. The biological reason is that WNS is causing mortality of some bats. There could also be some differences caused by changes in acoustic detectors and call analysis programs. We required consensus agreement of two different programs, which was a conservative method and resulted in only 20% of the bat calls being identified to species. However, species composition was consistent with expectations and was also consistent with results of other acoustic detection and mist-netting projects in northern Minnesota.
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    Minnesota National Forest Breeding Bird Monitoring Program Annual Report 1995–2018
    (University of Minnesota Duluth, 2018-12-06) Grinde, Alexis R; Walton, Nicholas G; Bednar, Joshua D; Liljenquist, Alexis L; Kolbe, Stephen
    Minnesota’s National Forest Breeding Bird Monitoring Program has documented trends in forest bird abundances for 24 years. These data have provided insight into the impacts of forest management on breeding birds and helped inform the development of management policies and conservation initiatives. This report summarizes forest bird monitoring data gathered from 1995 through 2018. Here we summarize the current status of species trends and overall trends for migration, habitat, and nesting guilds. We focus our discussion on species of conservation importance in the state to provide an ecological context and discuss management implications of the observed patterns in the region for these species.
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    Bat Radiotelemetry in Forested Areas of Minnesota 2015-2017
    (University of Minnesota Duluth, 2018-12) Swingen, Morgan; Moen, Ronald; Walker, Marcus; Baker, Richard; Nordquist, Gerda; Catton, Timothy; Kirschbaum, Kari; Dirks, Brian; Dietz, Nancy
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    Northern Long-Eared Bat Roost Tree Characteristics 2015-2017
    (University of Minnesota Duluth, 2018-12) Swingen, Morgan; Moen, Ronald; Walker, Marcus; Baker, Richard; Nordquist, Gerda; Catton, Timothy; Kirschbaum, Kari; Dirks, Brian; Dietz, Nancy
    Female northern long-eared bats (Myotis septentrionalis) give birth to a single young, which is raised in a maternity roosting colony in trees. Young are born and lactation occurs from mid-June through at least late July in Minnesota. Bat pups are unable to fly for 3-4 weeks after birth, so the adult females leave the young in the maternity roost while they forage. We tracked bats with VHF radiotransmitters to their roosts each day. At dusk, field crews conducted emergence surveys to count the number of bats emerging and find the roost entrance. In total we found 238 day roost locations of 83 female northern long-eared bats across the forested region of Minnesota. We returned to each roost tree to measure habitat characteristics. Female northern long-eared bats roosted in at least 27 different tree species. Almost all of the roost trees were in upland forests. In northern Minnesota, aspen (Populus tremuloides) was most commonly used as roosts. In central Minnesota, maple (Acer spp.) and aspen trees were most commonly used, and in southern Minnesota, oak trees (Quercus spp.) were most commonly used as roosts. About 90% of roost trees were deciduous species, and 10% of roost trees were coniferous species. Roost trees were more decayed and larger in diameter than available trees. Northern long-eared bats most often roosted in cavities and crevices of trees, although some roosted under loose bark or where branches had broken off. Four roosts were in unoccupied buildings. Each roost tree location buffer and random location was overlaid on NLCD, GAP, and LandFire cover type classifications to calculate percent of area in forest cover variables. Variables related to deciduous forest were characteristic of roost tree locations. The LandFire variable TreeDom was the best predictor variable for identifying potential maternity roost habitat at the landscape level. In the forested area of Minnesota, the 50th percentile of random locations had 55% tree cover on average, compared to 80% tree cover for the roost tree locations. The relationship held at smaller scales, which meant that we could create maps of habitat suitability for northern long-eared bat maternity roosts across the forested region of the state. Northern long-eared bats in southern Minnesota, with more development and agriculture, used roost tree locations in patches of forest. In northern Minnesota, roost trees were within forest stands instead of on the edges of forest stands, and roost trees tended to be located in areas with trees present in most of an 800 m foraging radius. We also tracked 13 little brown bats and 8 big brown bats to roosts in trees and buildings. The 13 little brown bats were tracked to 12 roost trees of at least five species, and five roosts in buildings. The eight big brown bats were tracked to 13 roost trees of at least seven species, and two roosts in buildings. All bats with transmitters that roosted in buildings were females that were either pregnant or lactating
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    Historical Northern Long-Eared Bat Occurrence in Minnesota Based on Acoustic Surveys
    (University of Minnesota Duluth, 2018) Moen, Ronald; Swingen, Morgan
    Although long thought to exist throughout the forested region of Minnesota, occurrence records for northern long-eared bats (Myotis septentrionalis) were historically based on winter hibernacula records and sporadic summer observations. The ability to record and identify bats by their echolocation calls allowed scientists to more systematically survey for bats in Minnesota beginning in the 2000s; however, these data were not compiled in a central database. With the arrival of whitenose syndrome in Minnesota and the federal listing of the northern long-eared bat in 2015 as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, the need for a more detailed and current distribution map for this species was evident. In this report, we summarize the occurrence records for northern long-eared bats based on specimens collected, existing acoustic survey data from various sources collected prior to 2015, and acoustic survey data collected from 2015 to 2017. Northern long-eared bats do appear to be distributed throughout the forested region of Minnesota. Presence has been documented in the northern half of the state, surrounding the Twin Cities metropolitan area, and in the southeast corner of the state. Detection of the northern long-eared bat in almost every attempt suggests that the species is also present in unsurveyed regions of the forested regions of the state, although it is less common than the little brown bat (M. lucifugus), especially after white-nose syndrome has led to mortalities in Minnesota.
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    Bat Acoustic Surveys in Minnesota 2015 - 2017
    (University of Minnesota Duluth, 2018-12) Moen, Ronald; Swingen, Morgan; Walker, Marcus; Baker, Richard; Nordquist, Gerda; Catton, Timothy; Kirschbaum, Kari; Dirks, Brian; Dietz, Nancy
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    Accuracy of a Modular GPS/GLONASS Receiver
    (University of Minnesota Duluth, 2018) Joyce, Michael; Moen, Ronald
    One of the main factors that affect GPS location accuracy is the type of GPS receiver being used. In general, more expensive receivers (e.g., mapping-grade or survey-grade receivers) provide better accuracy, and GPS users must balance GPS receiver cost with location accuracy when determining which receiver to use. Applications of GPS often require use of GPS receivers in less than ideal conditions while GPS manufacturers often report accuracy specifications that can be expected under ideal conditions. Forest canopies reduce GPS accuracy by interfering with signal transmission between GPS satellites and the GPS receiver and causing multipath errors. When GPS receivers are to be used in forest conditions and accuracy thresholds must be met, it is important to conduct accuracy testing in forest conditions rather than relying on accuracy specifications provided by the manufacturer. We tested the accuracy of the SXBlue II + GNSS, a modular, mapping-grade GPS receiver, under forest canopies in northeastern Minnesota. We estimated cumulative accuracy to evaluate the relationship between collection period and accuracy. GPS test sites covered a range of canopy conditions. We compared accuracy among sites to determine how canopy closure influenced location accuracy. Finally, we compared post-hoc methods to evaluate accuracy based on characteristics of the sites and acquired GPS fixes. The SXBlue II + GNSS receiver typically provided meter or sub-meter accuracy, even under forest canopy. Maximum accuracy was achieved after 10-30 minutes. Accuracy was lower at sites with higher canopy closure values. In sites with canopy closure >65%, maximum accuracy was reduced to 1.5 m. Post-hoc filtering to remove outliers did not improve accuracy. There was a strong, positive relationship between 50% CEP, a measure of location precision, and accuracy, suggesting that 50% CEP can be used for post-hoc accuracy assessment. Our results suggest that the SXBlue II + GNSS provides sufficient accuracy for a wide range of applications, including those that require GPS location measurement in forest conditions.
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    Results of Pre-Treatment Habitat and Biota Surveys from the Knife River, MN Watershed
    (University of Minnesota Duluth, 2018-03) Dumke, Josh; Wellard-Kelly, Holly
    This report follows the same layout and data summaries as the report provided to the Lake Superior Steelhead Association (LSSA) in 2017 (Dumke and Wellard-Kelly, 2017). Thus, much of the text from introduction and methods sections are repeated because each report has been written as a stand-alone document. The Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) was contracted in 2017 by LSSA to conduct pre-treatment stream habitat, fish, invertebrate, and water chemistry surveys on three segments of the Knife River mainstem anticipated to have channel restoration work applied in the future. The reaches were named ‘Reach 4.5,’ ‘Reach 4_ED,’ and ‘Reach 4_CB’ to match section labels used in planning by LSSA. We also measured all the same parameters in an upstream reach not expected to undergo any treatment, which serves as the control for later comparisons. This before-after-control-impact (BACI) design is our standard for attributing changes over time to specific treatments applied to the stream and is very useful in evaluating changes caused by habitat improvement projects. In total, four river segments (Reach 4.5, Reach 4_ED, Reach 4_CB, and Reference) were surveyed by NRRI with the full suite of options. In addition, three upper-watershed reaches (Mcarthy, Red Dot, and White Landing) were surveyed via electrofishing only with the goal of detecting age0 Rainbow Trout presence, and two reaches on the Knife River mainstem were surveyed with rapid-response thermometers to detect ground-water inputs which would be important trout refuge during hot summer periods. We found that all reaches had water quality parameters acceptable for all salmonid species present in the Knife River watershed. In fact, we found a ground-water spring within one of temperature survey reaches. The pre-treatment reaches had lower MSHA habitat scores than the Reference, which was largely due to the presence of large eroding stream banks, but all reaches had fish habitat in the form of woody debris and pools. Brown Trout were present in the lower segments, but absent in upper watershed reaches. Brook Trout comprised more of the fish community as surveys progressed into the upper Knife River watershed, which is typical. Rainbow Trout were present in every electrofished river section, but only one age0 Rainbow Trout was collected within White Landing, and no age0 were detected in Red Dot. Red Dot and White Landing were not far apart, and the low capture of age0 Rainbow Trout indicates there was very little spawning activity, or poor spawning success, of Rainbow Trout in these upper sections during spring 2017. Macroinvertebrate communities were similar among the four reaches sampled for bugs, but the Reference had slightly fewer sensitive taxa, likely due to that reach being a steeper slope and dominated by larger boulders that were half-buried in the stream bed by smaller rocks (which offers fewer spaces between rocks for invertebrates to hide).
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    Wetland Inventory and Classification for Carlton and South St. Louis Counties : Final Report and Deliverables
    (University of Minnesota Duluth, 2008-12-31) Host, George E; Meysembourg, Paul
    Accurate maps of the type and locations of wetlands are critical for land use planning, particularly for watersheds undergoing rapid develoment or facing increased development pressure. The important role wetlands play in maintaining habitat, water quality and surface and ground-water protection is well documented, but cun*ent information on the types, sizes, and locations of wetlands is difficult to obtain. As coastal environments come under increased pressure from development, this infonnation is essential for zoning, buildout scenarios and numerous other planning objectives. Within the Coastal Program boundary, however,up-to-date information on wetland type and distribution is sparse, outdated, or lacking for many watersheds. While the National Wetland Inventory is the most extensive and commonly used inventory, the limitations with respect to spatial and classification accuracy are well-recogiiized. Over several iterations, we have systematically been mapping wetlands within high- gi*owth areas of the Minnesota's Lake Superior Coastal Program. The objective of the current proposal is to use recent MN DNR aerial photography and other spatial data to delineate and characterize wetlands for the southwestern portion the Coastal Program area. These includes approximately tliree townships in Carlton County and watershed extensions into St. Louis County (Figure 1). Our primary end products are digital maps of classified wetlands and with associated data tables, which are here provided to the Lake Superior Coastal Program for distribution to decision makers and the general public. Wetland maps are delivered in two fomiats. As part of this final report to the MN DNR, we have included a DVD that contains the rectified raw imagery, inteipreted wetland in GIS fonnat, and metadata for the data layers. We have also created, as part of the CoastalGIS website at the Natural Resources Research Institute, downloadable and online versions of the interpreted wetlands. The download versions are delivered in ESRI shapefile fonnat, with associated metadata. We also provide an interactive version using the Arc Internet Map Server, which allows maps to be viewed and manipulated over the Internet with a standard web brower. The NOAA-funded CoastalGIS web site was established in March 2002 to sei*ve as a clearinghouse for spatial data relevant to the Coastal Program. The site currently contains a wide range of data sets on natural resources and infrastructure,and is designed to assist local decision makers and the general public in land use planning. The CoastalGIS web site can be accessed at: http://www. nrri. umn. edu/Coastal GIS
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    Evaluation of the potential effects of methoprene and Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) on non-target organisms: A summary of before-and-after sites in western Wright County for 1988, 1989, and 1990
    (University of Minnesota Duluth, 1992-07) Niemi, Gerald J; Axler, Richard P; Barnidge, Phyllis; Hanowski, JoAnn M; Hershey, Anne E; Regal, Ronald R; Shannon, Lyle J
    This report summarizes the results of a multi-year study initiated in 1987 to assess the effects of two mosquito control agents, methoprene and Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti). Methoprene is a juvenile growth inhibitor which suppresses metamorphosis of mosquito larvae from pupating, while Bti acts as a poison to the mosquito stomach. Each of these control agents is currently in wide use in the seven county metropolitan area. Wetlands in Wright County, MN were selected as the study area. This area is beyond the current control program of the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District (MMCD), but was selected because of the lack of any prior treatment to the study sites. Two of six possible townships in western Wright County were randomly selected for detailed study, Victor and Corinna Townships. · The experimental design established in 1987 specified ·a "before-and-after" study in which baseline information would be collected for several years prior to treatment. After three years of data collection (1988, 1989, and 1990), the SPRP and invesitigators of this study decided to initiate treatment in 1991. This report is a summary of the "before .. phases of the study prior to any treatment with mosquito control agents. The non-taget organisms selected for this study included: Red-winged Blackbird populations, the general breeding bird community, aquatic insect populations, and zooplankton populations. The study is primarily focused as a statistical sample of a randomly selected group of wetlands representative of western Wright County. As such the sampling is designed to provide "snapshots" of the respective communities over time and to detect selected changes to the communities in response to applications of mosquito control agents. Sampling of Red-winged Blackbirds consisted of measuring clutch sizes, growth rates of nestlings, fledging success, foraging behavior by adults, and population levels of adults in the wetland sites. Sampling of breeding bird, aquatic insect, and zooplankton communities consisted of gathering replicated samples from each of the wetland sites during critical growing season periods. Several additional activities also were included to better understand critical aspects of the wetlands and to verify applications of methoprene and Bti to these wetlands prior to any treatment. Detailed maps of each of the wetland sites were developed to characterize the vegetation and location of sampling stations for each of the subdisciplines. In addition, procedures were developed to independently verify methoprene and Bti application and approximate the dosage. Analysis of data from the pre-treatment phase of the study indicates that populations of birds, aquatic insects, and zooplankton are highly variable among years. For instance, a wetland with a relatively high population for birds, aquatic insects, or zooplankton one year did not necessarily have a high population the next year. Moreover, we also observed that water levels fluctuate annually greatly within and among wetlands. A wetland with a relatively high water level one year may not have a high level the next. On a regional scale rainfall may appear to be relatively uniform, but on a local scale the pattern of rainfall is ~ot uniform. Red-winged Blackbird nest failure rates have been high overall, varying from 72 to 77 % per year. High nest failure rates are likely due to high predation from both birds and mammals, flooding of nests, cold weather periods, and storms. As expeded, many measurements of Red-winged Blackbird reprodudion varied significantly among years, but few differences were observed between the two study regions. Of the 28 bird species commonly found using these wetlands, many showed significant annual variation. In particular, populations of Red-winged Blackbirds decreased from 1988 to 1990 as well as those of two other common wetland species, the Swamp Sparrow and Common . Yellowthroat. The drought years of 1987, 1988, and 1989 likely are associated with these population changes. However, populations of Yellow.:.headed Blackbirds and Marsh Wrens have decreased over the study period. A total of· 96 genera of aquatic inseds from 23 families ·and 5 orders have been sampled from the 27 wetland sites .. Populations of aquatic insects were highest. in 1988 compared with 1989 and 1990. Little data are available on aquatic insect communities of wetlands to make any comparisons; however, the drought of 1987 and 1988 is the likely cause of decreased populations of aquatic insects in 1989 and 1990. It is unclear how quickly these populations will recover from these extremely dry conditions. Zooplankton populations were less variable between years despite dear differences in rainfall, water depth, and temperature among years. However, sampling was limited in 1988 because of the extreme drought conditions when all sites could not be sampled. The first year that all sites could be sampled was in 1990. A method was developed to measure methoprene to a limit of detection of 0.4 ug/1 (ppb). In samples gathered from the 28 wetland sites, no detectable methoprene was found. Similarly, a method was developed to detect Bti in the water. However, because of the relatively low concentrations that methoprene is active and the rapid decline of Bti once applied, it is likely impractical to verify the amount of. ambient methoprene or Bti in each wetland following treatment. As an alternative, protocols were developed to capture methoprene and Bti in particle samplers on each site to verify treatment. · Using the 1988 to 1990 data, 23 variables were selected to test for differences between wetland sites assigned to methoprene treatment, Bti treatment, or to be maintained as reference sites. Sites were randomly assigned to one of the three treatment groups and the groups then treated to see whether there were significant differences (p < 0.05) in any of the variables. After 458 randomizations, a suitable combination of the sites was identified which will be used in subsequent applications of methoprene and Bti for the "after" phase of the experiment. A review of the statistical power of the experimental design based on the 1988 to 1990 "before" sampling phase indicated that reasonable differences can be detected between treatment groups and reference sites with the experimental design. If treatment with methoprene or Bti have an effect on non-target species in these wetlands then it will be reasonable to detect differences in Red-winged Blackbird reproduction, foraging, or populations; zooplankton size, egg production, or densities; or aquatic insed densities. Despite widely varying environmental conditions such as drought and the lack of consistent trends among the sites, many differences can be detected if they occur due to treatment.
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    Volunteer Assisted Water Quality and Biological Monitoring of North Shore Superior Streams Project
    (University of Minnesota Duluth, 2008-05) Axler, Richard P; Ruzycki, Elaine; Brady, Valerie; Breneman, Dan
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    Historical Water Quality Data Assessment of the Great Lakes Network
    (University of Minnesota Duluth, 2006) Axler, Richard P; Ruzycki, Elaine; Host, George E; Henneck, Jerald
    The objective of this analysis was to assess a large body of water quality data collected across Parks of the Great Lakes Network over more than two decades, make recommendations on sampling and data issues, and to the degree possible, identify trends in water quality that could be derived from these data.
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    Overview of Stanley Creek and Assessment of Habitat and Biota in the Knife River Mainstem, MN
    (University of Minnesota Duluth, 2016-03) Dumke, Josh; Brady, Valerie
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    Summary of Breeding Bird Trends in the Chippewa and Superior National Forests of Minnesota: 1995-2015
    (University of Minnesota Duluth, 2015) Zlonis, Edmund J; Grinde, Alexis R; Bednar, Joshua D; Niemi, Gerald J