Historic distribution of Common Loons in Wisconsin in relation to changes in lake characteristics and surrounding land use

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A study was conducted to evaluate changes in water quality and land-use change associated with lakes that are south of the current breeding range of Common Loons in Wisconsin but that historically supported breeding loons. Museum collection records and published accounts were examined to identify lakes in southern Wisconsin with a former history of loon nesting activity. Historical and recent water quality data were obtained from state and USEPA databases for the former loon nesting lakes that were identified and paleolimnological data were acquired for these lakes from sediment cores used to infer historical total phosphorus concentrations from diatom assemblages. U.S. General Land Office notes and maps from the original land survey conducted in Wisconsin during 1832-1866 and the National Land Cover Database 2006 were utilized to assess land use changes that occurred within the drainage basins of former loon nesting lakes. Our results indicate that the landscape of southern Wisconsin has changed dramatically since Common Loons last nested in the region. A number of factors have likely contributed to the decreased appeal of southern Wisconsin lakes to breeding Common Loons, including changes to water quality, altered trophic status resulting from nutrient enrichment, and reductions in suitable nesting habitat stemming from shoreline development and altered water levels. Increased nutrient and sediment inputs from agricultural and developed areas likely contributed to a reduction in habitat quality.

Study Area

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Historic distribution of Common Loons in Wisconsin in relation to changes in lake characteristics and surrounding land use
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher Focus on Energy
Contributing office(s) Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
Description 20 p.
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype Other Report
Larger Work Title Potential effects of climate change on inland glacial lakes and implications for lake dependent biota in Wisconsin
First page 89
Last page 108
Country United States
State Wisconsin
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