Assessing the Freshwater Conservation Potential of Terrestrial Protected Areas (2010)

Client Organization: 
The Nature Conservancy
Project Location : 
Northern Michigan
Summary of Project Idea: 

Historically, the conservation community has assumed that terrestrial protected area management will result in beneficial improvements to goals of freshwater conservation. However, as demonstrated by declining freshwater systems around the globe, this assumption may in fact be incorrect. This master's project seeks to determine the extent to which the management of terrestrial protected areas contributes to the realization of freshwater conservation in light of external influences. Our hypothesis is that the status of a catchment overrides management effort in the fulfillment of conservation goals. In order to evaluate the contribution of protected area management to freshwater systems, The master's project group analyzed key environmental attributes (hydrologic regime, water quality, energy regime, physical habitat, biotic composition, and connectivity) as components of a comprehensive approach to freshwater management. To characterize the impact of current management efforts, we developed a "KEA-Specific Management Score" for each key environmental Attribute. This was compared with associated catchment stressors and response variables. We compared these relationships for approximately ten PAs in northern Michigan.

SEAS Program Areas: 
Conservation Ecology (Aquatic Sciences, Terrestrial Ecosystems, and Conservation Biology)
Environmental Policy and Planning
Environmental Informatics
Sustainable Systems
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Dave Allan and Allen Burton
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Peter Gamberg, MS Environmental Informatics
  • Colin Hume, MS Conservation Biology/Environmental Policy and Planning
  • Amy Samples, MS Environmental Policy and Planning/Aquatic Sciences
  • Sarah Neville, MS Environmental Policy and Planning
  • Drew Casey, MS Environmental Policy and Planning/Sustainable Systems
  • Dave Sena, MS Aquatic Sciences
Project Status: 
Past Project