Biodiversity in Urban Ponds and Lakes: Human Effects on Plankton Populations

Project Staff: 

Principal Investigator: Robert Sterner, Professor and Head, Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of Minnesota


USGS-WRRI 104B/ CAIWQ Competitive Grants Program

Project Duration: 

March 2002 - February 2004


This project addressed two sorely neglected aspects of water resources

  1. urban habitats, and
  2. biodiversity of small inconspicuous species

In this project, zooplankton and phytoplankton communities were surveyed of 100 ponds and lakes within the seven-county metropolitan area of the Twin Cities, Minnesota. Sites werr categorized as urban based on land use information. Traditional water quality data were gathered at the same time. The goal was to determine if planktonic biodiversity correlates with the degree of urbanization using statistical approaches, such as testing for differences in the species area curves as a function of land use. There has been little attention paid to water resources closest to the large proportion of today's society that lives in urban environments. By undertaking serious study of biodiversity in urban ponds and lakes, this project will establish whether the combined influences of urbanization are deleteriously affecting the majority of the biodiversity within those habitats.