Guest Blog: Precision aquatic plant assessment and management in Michigan Lakes

By Jennifer L. Jermalowicz-Jones
Restorative LakeSciences is actively involved in the management and restoration of nearly 60 lakes in the state of Michigan and on water bodies in other states such as California and Wisconsin.  As an innovative specialty firm of advanced-degreed limnology experts, our goal is to provide thorough educational training to lake communities while using the most innovative technologies for lake improvements.  BioBase software (Contour Innovations, LLC) in combination with the Lowrance® HDS8 side- and down-scanning capabilities allows us to precisely determine the biovolume of the submersed aquatic vegetation in inland lakes.  Additionally, it also assists in the determination of individual aquatic vegetation bed areas that are mapped by aquatic botanists to be treated precisely with systemic or contact aquatic herbicides or with other removal technologies (Figure 1).  This technology has resulted in highly effective reductions of nuisance aquatic vegetation biovolume and bed densities due to the precision of treatments.  As a result, all of our lake management communities have been satisfied with the strategy and can easily see significant progress within a single season.
Restorative Lake Sciences, Evans Lake, Michigan, ciBioBase, BioBase, Eurasian watermilfoil, mapping, aquatic plants
Figure 1. ciBioBase aquatic vegetation heatmap collected by Grant Jones, Field Operations Manager, Restorative Lake Sciences (left) and Eurasian watermilfoil beds delineated with companion species surveys and the BioBase polygon tool.  Polygons were exported from BioBase and uploaded to Google Earth.
Jennifer L. Jermalowicz-Jones, MS, Ph.D Candidate, is the Water Resources Director at Restorative Lake Sciences and oversees over nearly 60 inland lake projects which include aquatic vegetation mapping and management, lake sediment reduction studies and management, algal quantification and identification and algal management programs, and watershed management programs.  She has over 24 years of experience in lake research and management and is pursuing her doctoral degree from Michigan State University in Water Resource Management.  She is also the President of the Michigan Chapter of the North American Lake Management Society, serves as the Science Advisory Chair on the Michigan Lake and Stream Associations Executive Board of Directors, has won numerous awards and grants for her aquatic ecosystem research, and has presented numerous papers at state and national conferences on water resource and lake management.

Paradise Lake Improvement Board (MI)

Contour Innovations has recently adapted the ciBioBase platform and pricing options to support the mapping initiatives of local government units, home owner associations, and improvement boards.  One of the most recent additions to this project has been the Paradise Improvement Board in Carp Lake, MI (Lower Peninsula) and we’re excited about it!*

The Paradise Lake Improvement Board (paradiselakeimprovementboard.com), through crowd sourcing and citizen science concepts, can now quickly determine the location and abundance of aquatic vegetation for management interventions and quantitative evaluation of the effectiveness of those techniques.   

There’s no technical expertise required!  Our biologists walked the volunteers of the PLIB through a demo account to demonstrate the key features for success with ciBioBase and discuss the recommended settings and collection techniques.    

 
 It’s this simple

Led by board member Catherine Freebairn, the PLIB purchased 2 Lowrance™ HDS units that will be set up as portable units for the lake group and an unlimited upload subscription to ciBioBase.com.  These units will be used to map Paradise Lake during dedicated mapping time as well as during pleasure cruises with passive collection.  With each minute on the water, the PLIB volunteers will be collecting vital statistics on aquatic vegetation, bathymetry, water temps, water volumes, and water clarity, all by hitting “log sonar” on their new HDS sonar units.  All of this data will be stored in their private online account. 
Aquatic biologist Ray Valley commented, “Protecting our lakes demands understanding of what lies beneath the surface and how its changing as a result of environmental changes and our responses to them.”
Using the innovative ciBioBase System, the PLIB has started building a historical database of their aquatic environment to monitor vegetation abundance and other important water quality characteristics over time.   They can now quickly determine the location and abundance of submerged aquatic vegetation for management interventions and quantitative evaluations of effectiveness of those techniques.  This database is the catalyst for efficient management today and in the future.  By gathering  this data each time someone is on the lake, the Board can crowd source the mapping effort and share information with their service providers for collaborative and objective decision making.  

“The PLIB has always shown a substantial passion for their lake and we feel that their early adoption of our powerful technology will be rewarded on many fronts,” said Contour Innovations’ CEO Matt Johnson.  “It’s very easy to work with groups like the PLIB who see the big picture in lake management and monitoring and want to see results.  They develop close relationships with their service providers and home owners to work hand-in-hand in understanding the best opportunities to reach their goals.  This is the first time that groups like this can use acoustics for accurate vegetation mapping and ciBioBase fits perfectly within their strategy,” he added.  

The PLIB will be working with their service providers (who will also have access to uploads and maps) to make important management decisions, monitor changes, and objectively evaluate if management interventions are having their desired effects.  With the support of all involved, including Contour Innovations’ own aquatic biologists, the future looks bright for Paradise Lake and anyone that enjoys all it has to offer!
 An Example of a Lake Mapped with ciBioBase
 Aquatic Vegetation Displayed in % BV (water column occupied by plants)

If you’re interested in finding out more about ciBioBase and how it can help your association or improvement district, please contact us and we’d be happy to set up a person demo for you with one of our biologists.  Please contact Jesse Amo for additional details:  JesseA@ContuourInnovations.com

For more information on the Paradise Lake Improvement Board please check out their website at paradiselakeimprovementboard.com.

*Contour Innovations does not release personal information about our customers.  We obtained permission from the PLIB before this media release.