Feasibility of implementing an integrated long-term database to advance ecosystem-based management in the Laurentian Great Lakes basin Journal Articles uri icon

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  • The North American Great Lakes have been experiencing dramatic change during the past half-century, highlighting the need for holistic, ecosystem-based approaches to management. To assess interest in ecosystem-based management (EBM), including the value of a comprehensive public database that could serve as a repository for the numerous physical, chemical, and biological monitoring Great Lakes datasets that exist, a two-day workshop was organized, which was attended by 40+ Great Lakes researchers, managers, and stakeholders. While we learned during the workshop that EBM is not an explicit mission of many of the participating research, monitoring, and management agencies, most have been conducting research or monitoring activities that can support EBM. These contributions have ranged from single-resource (-sector) management to considering the ecosystem holistically in a decision-making framework. Workshop participants also identified impediments to implementing EBM, including: 1) high anticipated costs; 2) a lack of EBM success stories to garner agency buy-in; and 3) difficulty in establishing common objectives among groups with different mandates (e.g., water quality vs. fisheries production). We discussed as a group solutions to overcome these impediments, including construction of a comprehensive, research-ready database, a prototype of which was presented at the workshop. We collectively felt that such a database would offer a cost-effective means to support EBM approaches by facilitating research that could help identify useful ecosystem indicators and management targets and allow for management strategy evaluations that account for risk and uncertainty when contemplating future decision-making.


  • Budnik, Richard R
  • Frank, Kenneth T
  • Collis, Lyndsie M
  • Fraker, Michael E
  • Mason, Lacey A
  • Muir, Andrew M
  • Pothoven, Steven A
  • Clapp, David F
  • Collingsworth, Paris D
  • Hoffman, Joel C
  • Hood, James M
  • Johnson, Timothy B
  • Koops, Marten
  • Rudstam, Lars G
  • Ludsin, Stuart A

publication date

  • April 2024