Minnesota Sentinel Lakes Program

The Section of Fisheries of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is leading a statewide collaborative effort to develop a system to monitor and record biological and chemical changes that occur in a sample of lakes that are representative of the state’s most common lakes. The program is designed to understand and predict the consequences of land use and climate change on lake habitats. This research builds off of the Sustaining Lakes in a Changing Environment program, or SLICE, that began in 2008.

The Primary Goals of the Sentinel Lakes Program are to:

1. Identify important biological, physical, and chemical trends in Minnesota lakes and monitor these trends over time.

2. Identify the mechanisms behind the trends that are being observed and monitored.

3. Identify management solutions to ensure the long-term sustainability of Minnesota's lakes given the presence of large and small-scale ecological disturbances facing these iconic ecosystems.

Across 25 sentinel lakes, the program is measuring watershed, water quality, zooplankton, aquatic plant, and fish indicators. From this data, researchers are developing indicators and monitoring schedules in sentinel lakes and additional random lakes that cover larger numbers of lakes across broader geographic areas.

In the first phase of the project, SLICE explored processes and mechanisms at the watershed scale that drive patterns in water quality and fish habitat in a diverse set of sentinel lake watersheds spread across Minnesota’ s major eco-regions. The resulting assessments for each of the first 24 lakes are available at: http://www.pca.state.mn.us/index.php/water/water-types-and-programs/surface-water/lakes/sentinel-lakes.html


Related Organizations:

  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Monitoring

States Affected:


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