The North American Laurentian Great Lakes are linked by a unique series of riverine and lacustrine waters known as the Great Lakes connecting channels that are as integral to the basin's ecology and economies as the lakes themselves. The St. Marys River (SMR) is the northernmost channel and flows from Lake Superior to Lake Huron. Waters from the upper Great Lakes (Lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron) empty from Lake Huron via the St. Clair–Detroit River system (SCDRS, also known as the Huron–Erie Corridor) into Lake Erie. The SCDRS is composed of the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, and the Detroit River. The Niagara River (NR) serves as the outflow from Lake Erie into Lake Ontario. The NR above Niagara Falls is bisected by Grand Island and contains several other islands and man-made embayments whereas the NR below the falls is more linear. The outflow from Lake Ontario, representing the natural outlet of all the Great Lakes, is the St. Lawrence River (SLR) which empties into the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the northwest Atlantic Ocean.
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Conservation and management of fisheries and aquatic communities in Great Lakes connecting channels