Funding & History

History of and Motivation for the Development of LAGOS

The LAGOS program began in response to the challenge faced by US States and Tribal agencies that have a mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency to manage and set standards for the water quality of ALL of the lakes within their boundaries. One of the many challenges with such a mandate is the understanding of how the water quality in thousands of lakes within a geographical area respond to human stressors such as land use, and other human activities. Unfortunately, the scientific understanding of lake water quality has historically been conducted on a relatively small number of lakes. However, a couple of decades ago we (and other scientists) were starting to see the value of broadening the view of how we study lakes from that of intensively studied individual lakes, to studying lakes at the population level. Such a view is analogous to the medical study of disease in individuals versus the study of disease in populations of people. We called this view of studying populations of lakes, landscape limnology.

Landscape limnology emerged in the early 2000’s alongside: increasing computing power (and decreasing price), increasing availability of publicly accessible geographic information system databases, and the maturation of landscape ecology that provided the intellectual foundation for the broad-scaled understanding of ecological systems.

Further, understanding the factors that affect lake water quality and the ecological services provided by lakes is also an urgent global environmental issue. Predicting how lake water quality will respond to global changes not only requires water quality data, but also information about the ecological, geography, hydrologic, and anthropogenic context of individual lakes across broad spatial extents. However, lake water quality is usually sampled in limited geographic regions, and often for limited time periods, and rarely is their sufficient data for the many different factors that influence water quality. Therefore, to study water quality across regions, continents, and the globe, scientists must compile many lake water quality and geographic datasets into an integrated database for the interdisciplinary study of water quality. However, the LAGOS program recognizes that this broad perspective for understanding lake water quality extends to many aspects of lake ecology beyond water quality and so the research platforms that we create have expanded beyond this early focus on water quality.

Funding for the LAGOS Research Program

The LAGOS research program has been funded by several funding mechanisms that reflect first its historical focus on water quality at the scale of individual US States and Tribes, and the more recent expanded focus on national-scale interdisciplinary freshwater research. Although the focus has expanded, we hope that the newer LAGOS Research Platforms can still be easily used by US States and Tribes to help manage and set standards for water quality of their lakes, as well as potential other important goals for the management of lakes. 

Early funding sources that contributed to the development of LAGOS

Michigan Department of Natural Resources – Fisheries Division. Developing a lake classification system for Michigan inland lakes. P.A. Soranno, P.A., M.T. Bremigan, K. Wehrly and J.E. Breck. 2004-2006.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds, National Lakes Assessment Program (NLAP). A hydrogeomorphic lake classification system for refining lake assessment at multiple spatial scales. P.A. Soranno, K.E. Webster, M.T. Bremigan and others. 2005-2007.

Michigan State University Center for Water Sciences Venture Grants Program. WETL.AKE Project: effects of wetland type, extent, and connectivity on lake chemistry. P.A. Soranno and C. Yansa. 2008-2009.

Environmental Protection Agency Region 5, section 106, Clean Water Act. Use of the BTPM framework to develop nutrient criteria for lakes of the Fond du Lac Band and the Grand Portage Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa. Subcontract to P.A. Soranno. 2009 – 2010.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 205J Funds, MI-Department of Environmental Quality: Revision, update, and validation of the lake-specific model for establishing expected nutrient conditions in Michigan lakes. K.S. Cheruvelil, P.A. Soranno. 2012 – 2014.

Funding to develop the LAGOS Research Platforms

The two most recent database platforms produced by our team have received almost all of their funds from the National Science Foundation (NSF) as described below and we are grateful to the US NSF for fully supporting this research through large, interdisciplinary, and collaborative awards that are necessary to fund research at this scale.

National Science Foundation (EF-1065786, EF-1065649, EF-1065818). 2011-2016. P.A. Soranno, K.S. Cheruvelil, E.H. Stanley, J.A. Downing, N.R. Lottig, P-N. Tan. 

National Science Foundation (DEB-1638679, DEB-1638554, DEB-1638539, DEB-1638550). 2016-2021. KS Cheruvelil, PA Soranno, P-N Tan, J Zhou, EH Stanley, C Gries, NR Lottig, T Wagner, E Hanks, E Schliep. 

Additional funding to support the Team Science and Open Science components of our work

National Science Foundation (SES-1449466). 2014-2019. K. Elliott, I. Settles, K. Spence Cheruvelil, G. Montgomery, and P.A. Soranno. 

National Science Foundation (HRD-1954767, HRD-2000579). 2020-2023. K. Spence Cheruvelil, K. Elliott, I. Settles, E. Cech.