Updated census in the Laurentian Great Lakes Watershed: A framework for determining the relationship between the population and this aquatic resource

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Great Lakes Research Center


The Laurentian Great Lakes Watershed (LGLW) is a complex socio-ecological system that spans the United States and Canada and includes Anishinaabe Nations, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and Métis Nations. However, this system contains overlapping political and ecological boundaries that do not conform, obscuring a true geographic definition of the LGLW and complicating the inclusion of population data in policy and social-ecological systems research. In this Short Communication, we provide a spatial framework for assessing the LGLW population using the watershed footprint under the Great Lakes Commission's jurisdiction with international consistency to support regional science and policy, and discuss challenges in accurately assessing Indigenous areas. Using the best available sources, we estimate a population of 38,327,681 people (2015–2019) within the watershed and 133,737 residents within government-delineated Indigenous, First Nation, and Métis census areas of 2021.

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Journal of Great Lakes Research