Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Wisconsin Fishery
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Wisconsin Fishery Project

Assessing the sustainable recruitment of coarse woody structure from riparian areas to littoral zones of northern Wisconsin lakes

October 2009 - October 2011


Participating Agencies

  • University of Wisconsin Stevens Point

Various riparian land-use practices have been linked to a decrease in the recruitment of coarse woody structure (CWS) into lakes resulting in reduced habitat for fish and wildlife. Moreover, these land uses also affect recruitment well into the future due to the generation time of trees. The objective of this research is to compare future levels of CWS recruitment among lakes that have varying levels of shoreline development to elucidate how land-use affects the sustainable recruitment of woody habitat to lakes. Riparian area land-use is currently being delineated through intense shoreline perimeter surveys in order to forecast recruitment rates of CWS into littoral zones of lakes over a 150 year time span. This study forecasts effects of several land uses, including unaltered natural riparian areas, total forest removal, and several types of intermediately modified riparian conditions. A forest succession model (JABOWA) was used to predict growth and survival rates of trees in riparian areas and linked to a recruitment model developed by Scribner (2006) that predicts coarse woody structure recruitment rates to lakes. GIS mapping of distinct patterns of land use and resulting varying levels of recruitment of natural sustainable woody habitat will be integral in assessing how the riparian landscape and littoral zones are affected. Modeling identified which lakes and land uses affect the sustainable recruitment the most, providing guidance on establishing best management practices (BMPs) in riparian areas.