IFR GIS Group
Former Projects

Current Projects


Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Framework


The Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Framework (GLAHF) is a spatial database and classification framework that integrates key habitat components to address local, lake-wide, and basin-wide restoration and management needs. This spatial framework will cover the entire Great Lakes basin but will focus on coastal and nearshore systems. The spatial framework tool will provide managers with the first consistent geographic framework that has an essential capability to link, map, integrate, and track habitat classifications, assessments, indicator development, ecological forecasting, monitoring, and restoration activities across the Great Lakes.



CSCOR Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Classification


Research funded by NOAA CSCOR to develop an open water aquatic habitat classification for the Great Lakes.


Great Lakes GIS


The Great Lakes GIS is a basin-wide spatial database at IFR that serves as a tool for scientific inquiry and a comprehensive decision support system for Great Lakes Basin resource managers and policy makers. It contains a large amount of data (150 GB in nearly 400,000 files) on a wide variety of subjects related to natural resource management, including biological, physical, political, and environmental data sets, such as land cover and use.


Lakebed Alteration Decision Support Tool


GIS enabled us to develop a tool to support offshore wind turbine siting. The Lakebed Alteration Decision Support Tool has a very flexible design, and it can be applied to the evaluation of sites for very different purposes, such as dredging projects or conservation areas. The tool allows resource managers to compare areas of Great Lakes bottomland to determine their relative suitability for lakebed alteration projects. It allows users to visualize a large number of political, cultural, biological, and physical features simultaneously, apply protective buffers to those features, and then combine all of that spatial information to calculate an overall suitability score for each point in the Great Lakes.



Wildlife Action Plan


The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Fisheries Division is developing and implementing Michigan's Wildlife Action Plan (MWAP). The goal of the plan is to provide a strategic framework and set of management tools that will enable our state's conservation partners to implement a long-term holistic conservation approach for all aquatic and terrestrial wildlife species. The IFR GIS group is refining Michigan's comprehensive aquatic conservation strategy and developing databases, frameworks and tools for implementation of MWAP. We upgraded Michigan's stream dataset from 1:100,000 resolution to 1:24,000 resolution to include a variety of information such as land use, water temperature, water flow accumulation, elevation, gradient, fish passages, and more. We are also developing critical conservation areas for aquatic species based on existing habitat, human disturbances, and land ownership information.


Digital Water Atlas


GIS enabled us to build a database containing information for all Michigan lakes. We are using this GIS database to develop tools to support management policy making. We delineated catchments for each lake 5 acres and greater. We characterized each catchment by a series of natural and disturbance variables, and a standard database and initial classification schemes were created. We classified lakes based on their physical characteristics, fish assemblages, and degree of human disturbance. Sampling each lake is not possible, and having such a complete, standardized database makes such classification work possible. In addition to developing classifications for various management goals, these data can be useful for supporting the State's Wildlife Action Plan, Forest Certification, managing game fish, and developing reference conditions for each lake.



Ecological Classification of Rivers for Environmental Assessment


Our goal is to couple landscape-based modeling from large, regional data sets and regional land transformation models with a valley segment ecological classification approach already being employed in several Midwestern states. Objectives include completion of a GIS-based river segment classification and provision of a comprehensive status and risk assessment of river systems across the upper Midwestern states of Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin.



Former Projects


Wildlife Conservation Strategy - Aquatic Species


In Michigan, a lack of emphasis and attention on non-game species has characterized research studies. Lack of funding dedicated to species has further prevented such studies. Amphibians, reptiles, non-sport fish, and invertebrates could particulary benefit from research attention. State Wildlife Grants (SWG) provide federal funding to support efforts related to conservation of these importnant wildlife species. In order for the State to continue to recieve this federal funding, which supports multiple State of Michigan DNR Fisheries Division projects, the State must develop a process to determine how these funds will be allocated - this strategy is the Wildlide Conservation Strategy (WCS). The WCS is the document that will adress species of greatest conservation need in the context of all of Michigan's terrestrial and aquatic wildlife.

A number of groups and agencies are involved in this large-scale effort: MDNR, Michigan Natural Features Inventory, International Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, Development Assistance Teams (US FWS), additional stakeholder organizations, technical experts, other governmental agencies, tribes and other interested individuals.

Contact: Liz Hay-Chmielewski hayl@michigan.gov


Michigan Rivers Inventory


This project is a long-term, collaborative research effort established in 1988 by scientists from the Institute of Fisheries Research, Michigan Department of Natural Resources (IFR/MDNR) and the School of Natural Resources, University of Michigan (SNRE/UM). Initially a Dingell-Johnson funded inventory project directed by Dr. Paul Seelbach (MDNR) and Dr. Mike Wiley (SNRE/UM), the collaboration has grown to include active scientists from multiple research institutions. The MRI focuses on the development of : a regional, spatially explicit, inventory framework; collaboratively managed research database; and scientific models and methods for studying the large-scale ecology of Michigan's rivers. The MRI database currently includes site and catchment-level data for 700+ study locations linked by an extensive geographic information system (GIS). This combination of a GIS and extensive field inventory database is designed to provide the ability to both describe and model key features of the biology, hydrology and water quality of the Michigan's major rivers systems. Collaborating scientists and institutions access centrally and distributively held data, GIS coverages, and models based on their participation in the MRI data sharing agreement.

The Michigan Fish Atlas is available from the Michigan Center for Geographic Information.


Geographic Distribution Maps of Michigan Fisheries


An atlas of Michigan fishes will be created, consisting of a distribution map for each species by watershed, taxonomic keys to the species, and a drawing of each species showing distinctive taxonomic field characters. In December 2000, a report entitled Distribution Maps of Michigan Fishes was prepared for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) using primarily records for vouchered specimens from University of Michigan Museum of Zoology (UMMZ). The database for the distribution maps consists of approximately 50,700 georeferenced records. In addition to those from UMMZ, there were records from MDNR, Michigan Rivers Inventory (MRI) compiled by Drs. Paul Seelbach, Mike Wiley, and students from School of Natural Resources and Environment, UM, and collections made by Dr. David Jude of the UM Center for Great Lakes and Aquatic Science. However, the voluminous records on the distribution of the five species of Michigan lampreys dating from 1957 compiled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were not included in these maps. Likewise, the large databases for distributions of Great Lakes fishes assembled by the U.S. Geological Survey laboratory and MDNR Great Lakes research stations were not included. The atlas as planned will contain all of this distribution information. The project data will provide for comparison of historic versus present distributions of common and rare species, as well as the status of immigrants and introductions. These databases will also allow analyses of distribution patterns with defined ecosystems, climate changes, and land use patterns. The atlas will be available in printed form as well as in the form of an interactive website. The printed version will serve as a field manual as well as desk reference for students and researchers. The interactive website will allow users to request keys, drawings, and maps of species of interest to them. In addition, the user will be able to download the data used to generate the maps via the internet. The user will have access to information about the location, date, source of data, and ecological data collected from the site. Users will be able to include the data in their own Geographic Information System (GIS) projects. This will encourage researchers with diverse interests to address questions related to the ecology and biogeography of Michigan fishes.


National Hydrography Dataset - High Resolution


The National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) is a comprehensive set of digital spatial data that contains informaton about occuring and constructed bodies of water, natural and artificial paths through which water flows, and related hydrogrpahic entities. Within the NHD, features (arcs and polygons) are combined to form reaches, which provide the framework for linking water-related data to the NHD surface water drainage network. These linkages enable the analysis and display of water-related data in upstream and downstream order. The 1:100,000 NHD exists for the state of Michigan (and the USA) (full coverage), and the move towards a higher-resolution dataset is one of multiple national efforts. The University of Michigan, in partnership with the United States Forest Service, are working to produce the 12 Cataloging Units of the NHD (which wholly or partially contain United States Forest Service lands) using a combination of USFS data and Michigan Framework data, and in some cases, Wisconsin Hydrography Data.

Michigamme (04030107)
Manistee (04060103)
Pere Marquette-White (04060101)
Au Sable (04070007)
Waiska (04020203)
Fishdam-Sturgeon (04030112)
Tacoosh-Whitefish (04030111)
Betsy-Chocolay (04020201)
Carp-Pine (04070002)
Brule (04030106)
Black-Presque Isle (04020101)
Sturgeon (04020104)