Understanding Lakes

The Lake Ecology section is intended to provide a general background to Lake Access by introducing the basic concepts necessary to understand how lake ecosystems function. It is divided into three general sections shown above, which describe the fundamental physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of lakes. While there is a logical sequence to the chapters shown in the index, each chapter stands alone. Much of the text, formatting, and figures are based on the four documents listed below, along with original lecture notes of co-principal Investigator Richard Axler. Additional citations have been included to provide appropriate credit, and further resources are provided throughout this guide in the form of literature citations and web links. To download or print the entire primer click on Limnology for a PDF version. You'll need Acrobat Reader installed to view this.

We start with an overview of the science of limnology:

Limnology is the study of fresh or saline waters contained within continental boundaries. Limnology and the closely related science of oceanography together cover all aquatic ecosystems. Although many limnologists are freshwater ecologists, physical, chemical, and engineering limnologists all participate in this branch of science. Limnology covers lakes, ponds, reservoirs, streams, rivers, wetlands, and estuaries, while oceanography covers the open sea. Limnology evolved into a distinct science only in the past two centuries, when improvements in microscopes, the invention of the silk plankton net, and improvements in the thermometer combined to show that lakes are complex ecological systems with distinct structures.

Today, limnology plays a major role in water use and distribution as well as in wildlife habitat protection. Limnologists work on lake and reservoir management, water pollution control, and stream and river protection, artificial wetland construction, and fish and wildlife enhancement. An important goal of education in limnology is to increase the number of people who, although not full-time limnologists, can understand and apply its general concepts to a broad range of related disciplines.

from LAKE ECOLOGY OVERVIEW (Chapter 1, Horne, A.J. and C.R. Goldman. 1994. Limnology. 2nd edition. McGraw-Hill Co., New York, New York, USA.)

Literature Cited

Moore, M.L. 1989. NALMS management guide for lakes and reservoirs. North American Lake Management Society, P.O. Box 5443, Madison, WI, 53705-5443, USA.

NALMS. 1990. Lake and reservoir restoration guidance manual. Second edition (note - a revised manual is currently in preparation). North American Lake Management Society, P.O. Box 5443, Madison, WI, 53705-5443, USA.
Michaud, J.P. 1991. A citizen's guide to understanding and monitoring lakes and streams. Publ. #94-149. Washington State Department of Ecology, Publications Office, Olympia, WA, USA 360-407-7472.
Monson, B. 1992. A primer on limnology, second edition. Water Resources Center, University of Minnesota, 1500 Cleveland Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA.