Aquatic Plant Research > Scientific Data on Aquatic Plant Communities > Wisconsin Standard Method to Collect Aquatic Plant Data > Learning From Aquatic Plant Data
Aquatic Plant Research
Learning From Aquatic Plant Data
Managers, lake groups, and businesses use the data collected during aquatic plant surveys to make science-based recommendations that balance customer needs and produce beneficial ecological outcomes. To this end, we have created several tools that help make sense of aquatic plant community data.
Aquatic plant managers and private consultants asked for guidance on how to analyze aquatic plant survey data collected before and after management. Science Services automated an analysis spreadsheet using a statistical test designed to assess the nature of the pre- to post- treatment change. This is statistical tool that allows managers to assess changes in plant communities and allows users to determine if the changes observed over time in individual plant species are statistically different. The methodology, lake sampling maps, data entry spreadsheet and this analysis tool has allowed for a unified sampling and consistent and objective analytical approach to make sound plant management decisions in the state of Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin standard aquatic plant sampling method collects data on the occurrence of aquatic plant species in lakes, but does not collect information on plant biomass. Traditionally, biomass collection was very expensive, often involving in-water surveys conducted by SCUBA divers. Science Services researchers are exploring the use of visual density data to estimate biomass by species. This data would inform management decisions and provide value-added information to standard plant surveys.
Maps of aquatic plant communities are useful in making management decisions. Statewide aquatic plant managers, private consultants, and county and municipal partners often need maps showing the lakewide distribution of aquatic plant species, particularly invasive species, that is based on point-intercept survey data. DNR Science Services created written protocols as well as YouTube tutorials on how to use the point-intercept data and GIS software to easily create aquatic plant distribution maps. Aquatic plant managers can now create their own maps at any time, which speeds up map creation. The protocol created for QGIS (freeware program) assists those users who do not readily have access to ArcGIS software.
Aquatic plant managers and private consultants requested a standard data entry and analysis form that provides summary statistics for aquatic plant survey data from individual lakes. To this end, Science Services researchers created a data entry spreadsheet that also calculates survey statistics. The form provides useful information on the overall plant community and returns information on plant abundance and diversity. This standardized tool allows users to rapidly summarize information and provides basic information about where plant growth is occurring. This summary helps guide management decisions by providing scientific information about the plant community. This form is currently used statewide and is available through the UW Extension Lakes Website.