What we're learning

Information collected through the Sentinel Lakes Program is used to gain a better understanding of the biological, chemical and physical processes occurring in Minnesota's lakes. Here's a list of past and ongoing studies that have data collected during monitoring activities.

Aquatic plants

Curly-leaf pondweed trends and interrelationships with water quality

Investigated how curly-leaf pondweed senescence corresponds to lake water quality. Found evidence that high early-season snowfall my lead to a decrease in production.

Cisco and coldwater habitat

Cisco (Coregonus artedi) reverse diel vertical migrations in Ten Mile Lake, Minnesota

In this study we examined seasonal changes in partial, reverse diel vertical migrations of Cisco in Ten Mile Lake, Minnesota. During spring, fall, and winter Cisco remained deep in the water column; however, during summer extensive partial, reverse migrations were observed likely driven by prey abundance.

Cisco (Coregonus artedi) stomach composition and fullness in Minnesota lakes varying by depth and mixing regimes

We examined Cisco stomach contents in a range of lakes. Cisco consumed primarily copepods, cladocerans, and chaoborus spp. when available.

Pelagic habitat preference of Muskellunge, Walleye, Northern Pike, and Cisco

Acoustic telemetry was used to monitor the seasonal depths and temperatures of Muskellunge, Walleye, Northern Pike, and Cisco in Elk Lake. Concurrently, temperature and dissolved oxygen were continuously monitored throughout the water column and related to depths where fish were present to develop species specific habitat selectivity models.

Population assessment tools, habitat use, and behavior of Cisco

We used hydroacoustics and vertical gillnets to examine Cisco density, habitat use, and behavior in 11 lakes. We found that cisco density and movements related to the temperature and oxygen conditions in each lake, as well as foraging potential and predation risk.

Simulating the combined effects of future watershed land cover and climate change on cold-water fish habitat

Simulations of Cisco fish habitat in Minnesota lakes under future climate scenarios

Using the characteristics of Minnesota Cisco lakes and water quality models for those lakes, we identified which lakes in Minnesota will continue to provide habitat for Cisco under global warming scenarios.


Characterization of Inshore Bottom Substrates and Influence on Fish Communities and Walleye Spawning Habitat in Minnesota Lakes

Modeling Wind, Water Movement, and Physical Habitat on Minnesota Lakes and Associated Influences on Walleye Spawning Habitat

Prioritizing Shoreline Habitat Restoration in Minnesota Lakes

Quantifying wind-wave energy on Minnesota Lakes

Evaluation of sediment cores to reconstruct historical water quality conditions and correlation to major environmental events.

Use of Wind Fetch and Shoreline Relief to Predict Nearshore Substrate Composition in a North Temperate Lake

Harmful algal blooms

Assessing the Increasing Harmful Algal Blooms in Minnesota Lakes

Starting June 2016, new and advanced water quality monitoring equipment are deployed in Minnesota lakes to track the weather, environmental conditions, and lake processes that can produce, sustain, or prevent algal blooms. The research will help us better understand how algal blooms develop in our lakes and bring us one step closer to algal bloom prediction and prevention.

Tracking and preventing harmful algal blooms

Hydrology & limnology

Classification of Selected Minnesota Lakes Using Deuterium and d18O to Characterize Hydrologic Residence Time

Evaluation of sediment cores to reconstruct historical water quality conditions and correlation to major environmental events


A millenial-scal chronicle of organism-environment interactions resulting in microevolutionary physiological and genomic shifts in Daphnia

We compared the genetics of Daphnia resting eggs from a eutrophic lake with those from a less production lake

Reconstruction of how a century of nutrient-enrichment of lakes has affected evolutionary changes in organisms, particular Daphnia pulex zooplankton

We hatched ~700 year-old Daphnia eggs and compared their nutrient use physiology with present-day descendents.

Zooplankton diel vertical migration patterns in Minnesota lakes

We exampined zooplankton diel vertical migration patterns in a range of lakes in Minnesota. Zooplankton densities were highest in the epilimnion with diel vertical migrations occurring with some of the larger copepod and cladoceran species.

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