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GLIN==> USGS to map richness of aquatic life in the Great Lakes - news release

News Release

U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey
Release                    Contact:
September 9, 2002                Donna N. Myers

Address:                         Email:
6480 Doubletree Ave.       dnmyers@usgs.gov
Columbus, OH 43229-1111

Phone:                     Fax:
(614) 430-7715             (614) 430-7777
USGS to Map Richness of Aquatic Life in the Great Lakes

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and its cooperators are launching a
5-year study in the Great Lakes basin to identify and map unprotected areas
of substantial richness in aquatic animal species, and to determine how
free those habitats are from human disturbance.  By locating the places
that support a full range of aquatic species, scientists hope to help
decision makers identify gaps and set priorities for conservation.

"Our goal is to keep common species common," said Donna Myers, coordinator
of the  USGS Great Lakes Aquatic GAP Analysis Program.  "GAP analysis grew
out of the realization that a species-by-species approach to conservation
does not address the continual loss and fragmentation of natural
landscapes," said Myers.  "The most efficient way to protect animal species
is to protect their habitats.  But protection can't be successfully
accomplished until we know where these places are located,"  Myers

The Nature Conservancy estimates that the Great Lakes region supports more
than 30 communities of plants and animals that are found nowhere else on
Earth. The Great Lakes and their watersheds provide habitat for
approximately 300 species of fish plus diverse numbers and types of
freshwater mussels, crayfish, and aquatic insects. The rivers, streams,
wetlands, and coastal areas of the Great Lakes system are key, because fish
and other animal species depend on them for habitat. However, what we know
about the aquatic biodiversity of this 200,000 square-mile region is
incomplete.  At the same time there are many threats to the aquatic
biodiversity of the Great Lakes Region including invasive species,
agricultural development, forestry, and urban expansion.

"Restoring and preserving the richness of species?the biodiversity?of the
lands and waters of the region is an important activity because
biodiversity in the Great Lakes is strongly tied to the economy, health,
and quality of life of the surrounding human population through its
positive effects on tourism, recreation, agriculture, drinking-water
quality, and fish consumption,"  said Myers.

The Great Lakes Aquatic GAP is one of the newest projects in the National
GAP Program. USGS is  cooperating with more than 200 other natural resource
agencies in 49 of the 50 states across the nation. The Great Lakes Aquatic
GAP project will provide maps, data, information, and scientific studies of
basinwide, lakewide, and statewide patterns in aquatic biodiversity. The
project will involve cooperative relationships with state, local, and
nongovernmental agencies in developing and applying this information to
state and regional conservation activities.

"The Departments of Natural Resources in the States of Michigan, Ohio, and
Wisconsin have taken a strong interest in the project," Myers said.
"State-level studies, which are components of the entire project, will
begin first in Michigan, Wisconsin, and New York, followed by Minnesota,
Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. A pilot state-level study is in its
third year in Ohio."

The USGS Great Lakes Science Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is leading the
regional effort to combine data from all the Great Lakes states. Funding of
just over $5 million is planned for the effort from 2003 through 2008. More
information can be obtained at the Web sites www.gap.uidaho.edu and
www.glsc.usgs.gov/GLGAP.htm .

The USGS serves the nation by providing reliable scientific information to:
describe and understand the Earth; minimize loss of life and property from
natural disasters; manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources;
and enhance and protect our quality of life.

                               *** USGS ***

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