Previously described models for predicting the percent of Lake Ontario wetlands that would be occupied by sedge/grass-dominated meadow marsh were used to test four proposed new plans for regulation of lake levels and to make comparisons with the current plan and unregulated conditions. The models for drowned river mouth, barrier beach, open embayment, and protected embayment wetlands assessed responses to lake levels that would be generated by each plan under net total supplies modified from those that occurred from1900 to 2000. In years when reduced supplies would allow meadow marsh regeneration, simulated unregulated lake levels produced the most meadow marsh in all wetland geomorphic types; current Plan 1958DD produced the least. Overall predicted percent meadow marsh under the test plans decreased in the order B+, 2007, D+, and A+, and the latter three plans produced rather similar results in many cases. Lower percentages of meadow marsh under some plans were due to insufficient low lake levels that could allow soils to dry and restrict invasion by cattails, as well as lack of periodic high lake levels that could kill invading upland plants. An assessment of seasonal lake-level characteristics demonstrated that Plan 2007 would reduce mean winter lake levels by 13 cm or more than Plan B+ and springtime lake levels by more than 10 cm. These seasonal differences could result in less winter habitat for muskrats and reduced access to spring spawning habitats for fish such as northern pike. Our model results provide important information for use in the process of selecting a new regulation plan for Lake Ontario.
Additional publication details
Predicted effects of proposed new regulation plans on sedge/grass meadows of Lake Ontario