Date of Award
Master of Science in Applied Ecology (MS)
College, School or Department Name
School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science
David James Flaspohler
Housing development has increased dramatically in the Midwest with a high concentration around lakes. This development plays an important role in the economy of Northwoods communities. However, poorly planned development has the potential to alter a lake’s ecological processes and integrity. Studies have documented the impacts of housing developments and reported dramatic, negative changes to the flora and fauna in Vilas County, Wisconsin. One component of my research included examining the previously unstudied effects of residential development on the abundance and diversity of medium to large-bodied mammals using lakeshore ecosystems. The results suggest that a higher diversity of mammals were detected on low-development lakes. Coyotes were the most numerous species detected with the majority encountered on low-development lakes. White-tailed deer and red fox were more abundant on high-development lakes as compared to low-development lakes. I concluded that high-development lakes are having a negative affect on the mammal community in this area.
Recently, lakeshore restoration has occurred on privately owned property in Vilas County and elsewhere in the Northwoods, but little is known about the benefit, if any, from these restoration efforts. A partnership between government agencies and academia has launched a long-term research project investigating the ecological benefits of lakeshore restoration. I investigated the impacts of using down woody material (DWM) to increase the success of restoration projects. Specifically, I tested the hypothesis that down woody material would reduce the variation in soil temperature, retain soil moisture, and improve plant survival and growth rates. I randomly assigned three DWM coverage treatments (0%, 25%, and 50%) on 3 m × 3 m experimental plots (n = 10 per treatment). The mean maximum soil temperature, temperature variation, and change in soil moisture content were significantly lower in the 25% and 50% DWM plots. I found no difference in survival, but snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) and Barren strawberry (Waldstenia fragaroides) growth was significant greater in the 25% and 50% DWM plots. DWM addition can be considered a useful technique to physically manipulate soil properties and improve plant growth.
Finally, I provided baseline data on vegetation structure, bird and small mammal community diversity and abundance for three lakes targeted for restoration efforts and their paired reference lakes. This study is one of the first of it kind in the area and continuing to document the degree of change in subsequent years will provide insight into the way the local ecosystem functions and how ecological communities are structured.
Haskell, Daniel E., "Quantifying the ecological benefits of lakeshore restoration in northern Wisconsin", Master's Thesis, Michigan Technological University, 2009.