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  Understanding: Lake Ecology Primer

There are a total of 21 web pages in this on-line limnology primer. Use the navigation bar located on the top left side of each page, or use the links provided at the bottom of each page to move forward or backward in the primer. Throughout these pages, you will find terms that are linked to their respective definitions. Move the mouse over the link to see a pop-up window with the definition. Move your mouse away from the term, and the pop-up window will go away. Click on the link to open the full glossary, and find more defined terms. Here is an example, Water on the Web.

A pdf version of the Limnology primer is available to download or print -- lakeecology.pdf (1.2 mb). You'll need Acrobat Reader installed to view this.

The following overview is taken largely 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.)

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, geological, 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, wetland management, artificial wetland construction, and fish and wildlife enhancement. Professional limnologists may be working in academia, government agencies at all levels, private businesses and industries, and non-profit organizations. There is also an ever-growing number of "amateur" limnologists associated with lake and river associations and volunteer monitoring programs who have an important role to play. 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.

A primary goal of Water on the Web is to use these beautiful aquatic ecosystems to assist in the teaching of core physical, chemical, biological, and mathematical principles, as well as modern computer technology, while also improving our students' general understanding of water - the most fundamental substance necessary for sustaining life on our planet.

The Lake Ecology section is intended to provide a general background to Water on the Web by introducing the basic concepts necessary to understand how lake ecosystems function. The reader is later referred to a list of texts and journals for more in-depth coverage of the science of freshwater ecosystems. Much of the text, formatting, and figures are based on the four documents listed below, although extensive modifications have been made to include the original lecture notes of Co-principal Investigator Richard Axler. Additional citations have been included to provide appropriate credit.

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.

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date last updated: Thursday July 29 2004