Effects of Lake Michigan water levels on wetland soil chemistry and distribution of plants in the Straits of Mackinac

TitleEffects of Lake Michigan water levels on wetland soil chemistry and distribution of plants in the Straits of Mackinac
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1986
AuthorsLyon JGrimson, Drobney RD, Jr. CEOlson
JournalJournal of Great Lakes Research
Volume12
Issue3
Pagination175-183
KeywordsWETLANDS
Abstract

The effects of short-term or summer season water level fluctuations on wetlands were determined from measurements of flooding, relative soil chemistry, and the presence of plants. Analyses demonstrated higher relative concentrations of plant-available soil nutrients and higher density of plants on flooded emergent wetlands as compared to infrequently flooded, unconsolidated shore sites. Flooding resulted in anaerobic soil conditions and increased concentrations of nutrients for wetland plants. The density of emergent wetland plants was highest where the topographic conditions and water level led to duration of flooding between 50 and 85% of the growing season. The effects of long-term water level fluctuations on wetlands were measured from historical aerial photographs of low, average, and high lake level conditions (1938 to 1980). An increase in water levels of 0.3 m reduced the extent of coastal wetlands by 18%. Historical aerial photos demonstrated and a model predicted that 13% of the total wetlands measured at low lake levels remained in the study area at the highest lake level sampled. This result was verified during the high lake levels of May 1985.