The Northeast Lake Classification and Map “moves us way forward in regional understanding of aquatic systems”
- Scott Schwenk, Science Coordinator for the North Atlantic LCC
From the deep and cold glacial lakes of the Adirondacks to the small kettle-hole ponds of the coastal plain, the Northeast region is known for its variety of lakes and ponds. The 33,000 waterbodies are part of the regional identity; storing freshwater and supporting sport fisheries and recreational activities like boating and swimming. Lakes also support a diversity of fish, birds, invertebrates, and aquatic plants that vary depending on the lake type. Until now, the types and distributions of lakes had not been consistently assessed.
Using newly available data and a team of 13 aquatic biologists from state and federal agencies, The Nature Conservancy has developed the first comprehensive map of waterbody types in the region. The products include an interactive story map, report, and dataset containing detailed information on each lake and pond in the region.
Every waterbody in the region is mapped and classified based on four attributes:
- Depth: the degree to which light penetrates and whether there is a permanent dark zone.
- Temperature: the coldest summer temperature
- Alkalinity: the degree to which the lake is buffered from acidification (similar to pH).
- Trophic Status: the productivity or “nourishment” of the lake. Hypereutrophic lakes have two much enrichment resulting in algal blooms and oxygen loss. Oligotrophic lakes are cold and clear.
This project was funded by the USFWS’s North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative to facilitate multi state conservation planning. It integrates state-based classifications into a single system that provides context for understanding the extent, distribution, threats, and conservation status of lakes and ponds in the region.