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Using Landscape Limnology to Classify Freshwater Ecosystems for Multi-ecosystem Management and Conservation

Governmental entities are responsible for managing and conserving large numbers of lake, river, and wetland ecosystems that can be addressed only rarely on a case-by-case basis. We present a system for predictive classification modeling, grounded in the theoretical foundation of landscape limnology, that creates a tractable number of ecosystem classes to which management actions may be tailored. We demonstrate our system by applying two types of predictive classification modeling approaches to develop nutrient criteria for eutrophication management in 1998 north temperate lakes. Our predictive classification system promotes the effective management of multiple ecosystems across broad geographic scales by explicitly connecting management and conservation goals to the classification modeling approach, considering multiple spatial scales as drivers of ecosystem dynamics, and acknowledging the hierarchical structure of freshwater ecosystems. Such a system is critical for adaptive management of complex mosaics of freshwater ecosystems and for balancing competing needs for ecosystem services in a changing world.

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