Megan Mader defends thesis on ecological gradient of MI drowned river mouths
Biology, Environmental Studies
On July 14, 2021, graduate student Megan Mader successfully defended her master's thesis, titled "Effects of shoreline and watershed development on eastern Lake Michigan drowned river mouth ecology." Her committee members included Dr. Carl Ruetz, Dr. Al Steinman, and Dr. Sean Woznicki from GVSU-AWRI.
In her study, Megan assessed the land cover and general characteristics of 24 drowned river mouths (DRMs) along eastern Lake Michigan. From those 24, she more closely examined 12 DRMs for the relationship between their respective watershed land covers and water quality. Megan also sampled the fish communities of 6 DRMs and their relationship to shoreline structure and watershed land cover. She found that both water quality and fish communities reflect a gradient from north to south, showing more degraded conditions in southern DRMs (whose watersheds are more developed and agricultural) compared to northern DRMs (whose watersheds are generally more forested). This was the first study to examine the ecology of DRMs from multiple spatial scales, and it allowed her to document the current condition of DRMs. This information will be useful to managers and future researchers concerned with coastal habitats in Lake Michigan.
Megan is now working as a lake scientist at Lake Education and Planning Services (LEAPS) in Hayward, Wisconsin, where she helps protect and improve the condition of lakes in northwest Wisconsin. "So far, I love it, and I am looking forward to continuing with an informal education in lake sciences and management practices!"
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