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Great Lakes

Published Nov 2, 2010

An Aquatic Gap program is underway for the riverine and coastal systems of the Great Lakes region. The Great Lakes are the largest system of fresh water on earth and provide habitat for a wide variety of aquatic organisms unique to these systems. The aquatic biodiversity of the region is being threatened due to urban expansion, more intensive agricultural practices, continued logging, coastal zone shoreline destruction, and other human activities.


The Great Lakes Aquatic GAP program has seven main objectives:

  • Develop maps of ecoregional drainage units in a GIS framework
  • Provide hierarchical habitat classifications schemes for riverine and coastal habitat.
  • Collect and build aquatic biological databases.
  • Model aquatic species-habitat affinities and interactions.
  • Conduct a GAP analysis based on land stewardship.
  • Serve data on the Internet and on CD from the centralized regional database.
  • Conduct regional-level synthesis and develop reports and publications that describe aquatic biodiversity and its relation to habitat quality, land use, and land protection.

For more information about the Great Lakes Aquatic Gap Program, please visit their website.

Riverine Aquatic GAP

The purpose of the Riverine Aquatic Gap Analysis project is to identify gaps in the conservation of fish and other aquatic species in the rivers and streams of the Great Lakes basin. Using a Geographic Information System (GIS), maps of riverine habitats and fish distribution can be overlaid with maps of land ownership. Scientists and resource managers can then use this information to develop conservation priorities for maintaining biodiversity within these aquatic habitats.

Coastal Aquatic GAP

The coastal zone is an important buffer and link between the open water and inland ecosystems of the Great Lakes basin. Terrestrial components of the National Gap Analysis Program (GAP) have increased our understanding of habitat and biodiversity throughout the country, but less is known about aquatic habitats and species interaction, particularly for coastal regions. In order to better understand the coastal habitats of the Great Lakes and preserve the diversity of species within them, a Coastal Aquatic Gap Analysis project has begun in the Great Lakes Basin.

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