A Geographic Information System for Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat


Project Background



In the Joint Strategic Plan for Management of Great Lakes Fisheries (1981, revised in 1997), United States Canadian federal, state, provincial, and intertribal agencies agreed to share data, particularly through compatabile, automated information systems. To faciliate sharing of data and holistic management of the Great Lakes basin, GIS-based classifications of aquatic ecological units are being assembled. This will include map-delineated spatial units and associated habitat and biological attribute data for terrestrial, tributary rivers, nearshore, and offshore ecosystems. This system would serve as the fundamental base map on which to compile and view landscape-scale inventory of Great Lakes Basin aquatic resources.



1.) Develop seamless, standardized, habitat-based GIS projects for the Great Lakes.

2.) Develop a collaborative plan and establish institutional arrangements for long-term data sharing, development, distribution, training and maintenance of Great Lakes GIS databases.


The many groups and organizations responsible for conserving resources in the Great Lakes basin have traditionally managed resources in their jurisdiction independently. Although much data have been collected, little integration or data sharing has occurred.

To facilitate a holistic approach to managing the Great Lakes basin, a GIS-based Decision Support System (DSS) is being developed.

A GIS database should, for the first time, allow the integration of data developed by the numerous U.S. and Canadian agencies responsible for conserving this system.

In addition to integrating existing data from federal, state, provincial, tribal, and non-governmental organizations, this information system will also provide a means of inventorying and monitoring basin habitat (e.g. terrestrial, tributary, nearshore, and offshore systems).

The primary objective of the GLGIS Project is to integrate data from each lake basin into a common database to provide an inventory of basin-wide aquatic resources. Additionally, many new layers and tools are also being developed to ensure that the DSS is a powerful tool for analysis of whole-system responses to management alternatives.



The Great Lakes GIS Project will provide comprehensive GIS projects for each Great Lake and the entire Great Lakes basin and provide recommendations for long-term distribution and maintenance of GIS-based data.

In order to accomplish these goals, we will complete the following tasks:

1.) Compile existing digital base maps and ecological classifications of Great Lakes habitats;

2.) Coordinate with multiple, related, ongoing initiatives to track progress, assist where possible, and remove redundancies;

3.) Inventory available data and perform work needed to more fully develop the overall Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat GIS;

4.) Develop a prototype GIS for distribution via the Internet.



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