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Researcher disciplines and the assessment techniques used to evaluate Laurentian Great Lakes coastal ecosystems

Hackett, Rachel A., Babos, Heidi B., Collins, Erin E., Horton, Dean, Schock, Neil, Schoen, Lee S.
Journal of Great Lakes research 2017 v.43 no.1 pp. 9-16
ecosystems, heavy metals, researchers, water quality, Great Lakes, North America
The Laurentian Great Lakes of North America have been a focus of environmental and ecosystem research since the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement in 1972. This study provides a review of scientific literature directed at the assessment of Laurentian Great Lakes coastal ecosystems. Our aim was to understand the methods employed to quantify disturbance and ecosystem quality within Laurentian Great Lakes coastal ecosystems within the last 20years. We focused specifically on evidence of multidisciplinary articles, in authorship or types of assessment parameters used. We sought to uncover: 1) where Laurentian Great Lakes coastal ecosystems are investigated, 2) how patterns in the disciplines of researchers have shifted over time, 3) how measured parameters differed among disciplines, and 4) which parameters were used most often. Results indicate research was conducted almost evenly across the five Laurentian Great Lakes and that publication of coastal ecosystems studies increased dramatically ten years after the first State of the Great Lakes Ecosystem Conference in 1994. Research authored by environmental scientists and by multiple disciplines (multidisciplinary) have become more prevalent since 2003. This study supports the likelihood that communication and knowledge-sharing is happening between disciplines on some level. Multidisciplinary or environmental science articles were the most inclusive of parameters from different disciplines, but every discipline seemed to include chemical parameters less often than biota, physical, and spatial parameters. There is a need for an increased understanding of minor nutrient, toxin, and heavy metal impacts and use of spatial metrics in Laurentian Great Lakes coastal ecosystems.