Results Summary

The table below shows results for the ecosystem health indicators used in this report. Trends are shown in the right-hand column to tell us if things are getting better, getting worse or staying the same. Where data is lacking or results are mixed, the trend might be labelled “undetermined.” Our State of the Bay technical report has a chapter on each of these indicators and more details about the results.

To help make our measurements consistent with those of federal and provincial research agencies, we have adopted definitions of trends for eight of our indicators (phosphorus to fish) from the State of the Great Lakes reports prepared by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Indicators Measures Trends Learn More
1. Water quality Total phosphorus Learn More
2a. Lower food web Phytoplankton Learn More
2b. Lower food web Zooplankton Learn More
2c. Lower food web Benthic invertebrates Learn More
3. Prey fish Offshore and nearshore prey fish Learn More
4. Smallmouth bass Catch per unit effort Learn More
5. Northern pike Catch per unit effort Learn More
6. Muskellunge Catch per unit effort, mean and max. total length Learn More
7. Walleye Catch per unit effort, spawning stock size, age structure Learn More
8. Lake trout Age structure, survival/mortality, spawning stock size, natural reproduction, abundance Learn More
9. Coastal wetlands Coastal wetland cover Learn More
10a. Landscape biodiversity High value biodiversity areas Learn More
10b. Landscape biodiversity Human footprint analysis Learn More
11a. Climate change Maximum annual ice cover Learn More
11a. Climate change Summer surface water temperature Learn More

Outside the established State of the Great Lakes reports, we might apply a similar trend system to our three remaining State of the Bay 2018 indicators:

  • Coastal Wetlands: Undetermined. As water levels fluctuate, wetlands change. Some species benefit from low water, and other species benefit from high water.
  • Landscape Biodiversity: Deteriorating. With increasing human impacts and habitat fragmentation, as well as rising numbers of species at risk, biodiversity is declining locally and globally. Future application of this tool will help show more specific trends over time.
  • Climate Change: Deteriorating. Loss of ice cover and warming water over a few decades indicate a rapid environmental change, and one that is consistent with global climate change models.

Data Gaps and Research Needs

In addition to compiling and summarizing the most recent research available on the 11 ecosystem health indicators, another primary goal of the State of the Bay report is to identify and present data gaps and research needs. This is an important step in directing future research in order to help improve our understanding of ecosystem health.

The State of the Bay Technical Report features data gaps and research needs for each of the 11 indicators, and a consolidated list can be viewed here. Academics, researchers, and interested individuals are encouraged to have a look at this list and consider how they can contribute to filling knowledge gaps.

Please contact David Bywater, Conservation Program Manager, ([email protected], 705-774-0978) about research and monitoring opportunities.