Nearshore Freshwater Habitats

Nearshore freshwater habitats are an important component of the complex and dynamic Great Lakes Basin and are vital to the success of Wisconsin’s coastal communities. These areas are a key priority for restoration and protection because they are the source of drinking water for most coastal communities, are the areas of the lakes where most human recreation (e.g., swimming, boating, and fishing) and education opportunities occur, and are the critical ecological link between watersheds and the open waters of the Great Lakes.

Getting Started

Exploring and Understanding Nearshore Habitats

NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science

This digital atlas resource shoes the location of cultural resources, environmental research and monitoring, and human activities along Lake Michigan. It is a great tool for managers, stakeholders, and the general public to see the location of important lake resources and how these resources are distributed relative to one another.

GLAHF Explorer 

Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Framework

This interactive web mapping application contains a variety of physical, chemical and biological data for the Great Lakes basin and provides access to a multitude of data summaries, other products and tools. This tutorial shows how to use the tool.

Nearshore Waters of the Great Lakes 

Environmental Protection Agency

This resource is designed to provide background information on the nearshore water elements of the Great Lakes coastal ecosystems.

Ecology of Freshwater Shore Zones

David L. Strayer & Stuart E. G. Findlay

This publication identifies the specifics of shore zones and summarizes what is known about the ecology of freshwater shore zones.

Assessing Nearshore Habitats

The Great Lakes Nearshore Framework

Environmental Protection Agency

This planning tool is intended to address new and existent challenges to the nearshore waters and habitats of the Great Lakes.

Coastal & Nearshore Fish Habitat Assessment 

Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Framework

This tool is an integrated assessment of coastal and nearshore habitats of the Great Lakes with the goal to assess and map available fish habitat based on species specific habitat conditions in both the coastal margin and nearshore zone.

Needs Assessment Guide

NOAA Office for Coastal Management

This resource is a step-by-step guide to understanding and completing a needs assessment with coastal issue-based case studies and sample reports for guidance.

Mapping Nearshore Habitats

Benthic Terrain Modeler

Esri, Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, NOAA Office for Coastal Management, Oregon State University

This tool is used by coastal and marine resource managers in combination with bathymetric datasets, or data from the underwater depth of ocean and lake floors, to analyze seafloor characteristics. This tutorial provides guidance on how to use the modeler.

Using Benthic Habitat Data for Ecosystem Management

NOAA Office for Coastal Management. California Sea Grant

This training resource provides a brief overview of what benthic habitats are why they are important to the environmental and economic health of the coast, providing examples from both freshwater and saltwater.

GLAHF Spatial Database

Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Framework

This resource is a spatial database relevant to the Great Lakes basin and is organized into several categories, including biological and environmental.

Great Lakes GIS Map Layers

Great Lakes Commission

This resource is a quick list of GIS layers available for the Great Lakes Basin, including geographic boundaries, hydrology, fishery and miscellaneous

Restoration and Management

Science in the Great Lakes Mapper

U.S. Geological Survey

This tool spatially displays information about scientific research and monitoring efforts throughout the Great Lakes and can be used by researchers and managers to strategicially plan, implemenet and analyze restoration activities within Wisconsin.

Using Cultural Ecosystem Services to Inform Restoration to Inform Restoration Priorities in the Laurentian Great Lakes

School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan

This publication focuses on the use of cultural ecosystem services as an informative component to guiding large-scale restoration efforts in the Great Lakes.

Conserving Freshwater and Coastal Resources in a Changing Climate

The Nature Conservancy

This resource provides useful information on the effects climate change has on freshwater habitats and can be a useful tool when considering restoration and management efforts.

Explore Further

Guidance for Benthic Habitat Mapping: An Aerial Photographic Approach Guide

NOAA Coastal Services Center

This online guide provides direction for benthic habitat mapping from aerial photographic approach. This approach may not be appropriate in all situations and where aerial photography of habitats is not present.

Evaluating Coastal and Nearshore Projects and Data Needs in the Great Lakes

Coastal States Organization

This story from NOAA’s Digital Coast highlights coastal and nearshore habitat assessment workshops conducted in states within the Great Lakes basin, including Wisconsin, and the identification of potential project locations.