Lake Index of Biological Integrity Assessments

2016 Fiscal Year Funding Amount:
$1,300,000
2015 Fiscal Year Funding Amount:
$1,300,000
2014 Fiscal Year Funding Amount:
$1,300,000
2013 Fiscal Year Funding Amount:
$1,150,000
2012 Fiscal Year Funding Amount:
$1,150,000
2011 Fiscal Year Funding Amount:
$1,178,000
2010 Fiscal Year Funding Amount:
$200,000
Source: 
Clean Water Fund
Status: 
In Progress
Start Date: 
July 2009
Activity Type: 
Monitoring, Research, Assessment/Evaluation
Counties Affected: 
Statewide
Project Details:
2016 Fiscal Year
Legal Citation / Subdivision: 
M.L. 2013, Ch. 137, Art. 2, Sec. 6(b)
Appropriation Language 
$1,300,000 the first year and $1,300,000 the second year are for lake Index of Biological Integrity (IBI) assessments.
Fiscal Year Funding Amount: 
$1,300,000
Number of full time equivalents funded: 
14.0
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s) 
Fish IBI: In FY16, DNR biologists will complete approximately 135 fish index of biological integrity (IBI) surveys, which include near-shore fish communities and game and nongame fish surveys in shallow and deep water zones. IBI survey information will be used as part of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) watershed assessments for approximately 65 lakes in six major watersheds. Lakes will be identified as impaired or as meeting standards based on the fish IBI. In addition, the list of lakes of exceptional biological quality will be updated to help identify which lakes are priorities for protection in the development of Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies. We will continue to produce stressor ID reports; for lakes with poor fish IBI scores; approximately 30 – 40 lakes are likely to be designated as impaired.

Aquatic Plant IBI: In FY16, EWR biologists will organize, analyze and deliver aquatic plant data, which the MPCA will use to determine whether lakes are meeting water quality standards. We will continue to provide training and technical support to staff in other DNR programs that collect aquatic plant and data and do shoreline habitat surveys. We will target intensive, detailed field surveys at 13 priority lakes in the Mississippi River-Brainerd watershed where there is not enough data to do a quality IBI assessment, and we will survey shoreline habitat and delineate emergent plant stands on 47 lakes in the Mississippi River-Brainerd watershed. This will help us develop additional IBI metrics for non-nutrient stressors.
Project Details:
2015 Fiscal Year
Legal Citation / Subdivision: 
M.L. 2013, Ch. 137, Art. 2, Sec. 6(b)
Appropriation Language 
$1,300,000 the first year and $1,300,000 the second year are for lake Index of Biological Integrity (IBI) assessments.
Fiscal Year Funding Amount: 
$1,300,000
Direct expenses: 
$956,280
Administration costs: 
$96,351
Number of full time equivalents funded: 
14.1
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s) 
Fish IBI: In FY15, DNR biologists will complete approximately 135 fish IBI surveys, which include near-shore fish communities and game and nongame fish surveys in shallow and deep water zones. IBI survey information will be used as part of MPCA’s watershed assessments. Using the data collected to date, DNR Biologists will work with MPCA to finalize a fish IBI tool for most lake types and develop a Biological Condition Gradient (BCG) Model for Minnesota lakes. We expect to finalize the fish-based IBI and BCG models for most lake types by early 2015.

Aquatic Plant IBI: In FY15, DNR biologists will analyze quantitative data collected by DNR Fisheries, DNR Wildlife Shallow Lakes Program and DNR EWR's Lakes & Rivers Program as a next step in finalizing an aquatic plant IBI. We will organize, analyze and deliver aquatic plant data collected in targeted watersheds for use in MPCA’s watershed assessment process for identifying impaired waters. A manual of standardized aquatic plant survey methods will be completed.
Measurable Outcome(s) 
Fish IBI: In FY15, DNR biologists completed 136 fish index of biological integrity (IBI) surveys, which included near-shore fish communities and game and nongame fish surveys in shallow and deep water zones. We also finalized four fish IBI tools and established biological impairment thresholds for the fish IBIs. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) used fish IBI survey information in their watershed assessments for 81 lakes in four major watersheds. Based on the fish IBI, lakes were determined to be impaired or meeting standards. We also made a list of lakes of exceptional biological quality, which is being used to identify protection priorities in MPCA’s Watershed Restorations and Protection Strategies. We took on a new task of determining which factors are contributing to fish IBI impairments on lakes; we drafted 9 stressor ID reports for the MPCA.

Aquatic Plant IBI: In FY15, EWR biologists organized, analyzed and delivered aquatic plant data on 152 lakes in priority watersheds. A variety of DNR programs collect lake plant data; we used these data for the plant IBI assessments. To help maintain this important data source, we finalized survey protocols for aquatic plant IBI assessments, wrote a manual of these standardized survey methods, and held training workshops for 150 DNR Fish and Wildlife staff involved in lake plant surveys. In addition, we did more detailed in-lake surveys on eight priority lakes in the Rum River Watershed where there was not enough existing plant data to calculate an IBI. Biologists surveyed shoreline habitat and/or delineated emergent plant stands on 25 lakes in the Rum River and Mississippi River-Brainerd watersheds We also made progress enhancing software to gather and manage data, which will make it easier for more biologists from other DNR programs to survey shoreline habitat and/or delineate emergent plant stands.
Project Details:
2014 Fiscal Year
Legal Citation / Subdivision: 
M.L. 2013, Ch. 137, Art. 2, Sec. 6(b)
Appropriation Language 
$1,300,000 the first year and $1,300,000 the second year are for lake Index of Biological Integrity (IBI) assessments.
Fiscal Year Funding Amount: 
$1,300,000
Direct expenses: 
$7,574,287
Administration costs: 
$142,024
Number of full time equivalents funded: 
11.08
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY14, DNR biologists will complete approximately 135 fish Index of Biological Integrity (IBI) surveys, which include near-shore fish communities and game and nongame fish surveys in the shallow and deep water zones. IBI survey information will be used as part of MPCA’s watershed assessments. Using the data collected to date, DNR Biologists will work with MPCA to finalize a fish IBI tool for most lake types and develop a Biological Condition Gradient (BCG) model for Minnesota lakes. We expect to finalize the IBI and BCG models by early 2015. Biologists will also begin work on developing IBI tools for aquatic plants in FY14.
Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY14, DNR biologists completed 124 fish IBI surveys on 121 lakes, which include near-shore fish communities as well as game and nongame fish surveys in the shallow and deep water zones. Biologists also developed tools for incorporating fish IBI information into the watershed assessment process in coordination with MPCA.

FY14 (primarily summer of 2013) was the first year of transitioning from sampling for tool development to sampling primarily as part of a watershed assessment within the MNPCA schedule. Due to the logistics of working in selected watersheds vs. statewide, fewer lakes were sampled. We also increased survey effort on many lakes, targeted larger lakes which take more time to sample, and added new gear targeting sensitive pelagic fish species on several lakes.

In FY14, DNR biologists developed and conducted special IBI vegetation surveys on approximately 20 lakes throughout the state. These surveys were targeted for data collection in the shoreline and near-shore zones where data are currently lacking. Surveys included rapid shoreline habitat assessments, delineation of emergent and floating-leaf plant beds, and quantitative assessments of in-lake plant communities. A centralized database for these data has been created.
Project Details:
2013 Fiscal Year
Legal Citation / Subdivision: 
M.L. 2011, First Special Session, Ch. 6, Art. 2, Sec. 6(b)
Appropriation Language 
$1,150,000 the first year and $1,150,000 the second year are for lake Index of Biological Integrity (IBI) assessments, including assessment of 400 additional lakes and technical analysis to develop an aquatic plant IBI analysis. The commissioner shall work with the commissioner of the Pollution Control Agency on the development of an assessment tool.
Fiscal Year Funding Amount: 
$1,150,000
Direct expenses: 
$786,648
Administration costs: 
$111,048
Number of full time equivalents funded: 
13.0
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY13, DNR biologists will complete approximately 180 fish IBI surveys on 160 lakes, including repeat surveys for quality control. Surveys target the entire fish community, including nongame and game fish living in the nearshore area and offshore. IBI survey information will be used as part of PCA’s watershed assessments. Biologists will begin work on developing plant IBI tools.
Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY13, DNR biologists completed 146 fish IBI surveys, which include near-shore fish communities as well as game and nongame fish surveys in the shallow and deep water zones. Biologists also developed tools for incorporating fish IBI information into the watershed assessment process in coordination with MPCA. The number of surveys was smaller than originally proposed due to changes in study design to add different methods of fish collection (e.g., vertical gill nets, small mesh trap nets, electrofishing) and improve efficiency and data quality. An unseasonably cool spring caused water temperatures to be too cool to effectively sample near-shore fish communities.
Project Details:
2012 Fiscal Year
Legal Citation / Subdivision: 
M.L. 2011, First Special Session, Ch. 6, Art. 2, Sec. 6(b)
Appropriation Language 
$1,150,000 the first year and $1,150,000 the second year are for lake Index of Biological Integrity (IBI) assessments, including assessment of 400 additional lakes and technical analysis to develop an aquatic plant IBI analysis. The commissioner shall work with the commissioner of the Pollution Control Agency on the development of an assessment tool.
Fiscal Year Funding Amount: 
$1,150,000
Direct expenses: 
$972,395
Administration costs: 
$126,390
Number of full time equivalents funded: 
14.0
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY12, DNR biologists will complete 200 fish IBI surveys. Surveys target the entire fish community, including nongame and game fish living in the nearshore area and offshore. Twenty lakes will receive multiple nearshore surveys per field season for quality control purposes.
Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY12, DNR biologists completed 180 fish IBI surveys on 162 lakes. Surveys target the entire fish community, including nongame and game fish living in the nearshore area and offshore Eighteen lakes received additional surveys for quality control purposes. Biologists also developed tools for incorporating fish IBI information into the watershed assessment process in coordination with MPCA.
Project Details:
2011 Fiscal Year
Legal Citation / Subdivision: 
M.L. 2009, Ch. 172, Art. 2, Sec. 5(a)
Appropriation Language 
$1,240,000 the first year and $2,460,000 the second year are for assisting in water quality assessments in supporting the identification of impaired waters.
Fiscal Year Funding Amount: 
$1,178,000
Direct expenses: 
$1,029,929
Administration costs: 
$64,573
Number of full time equivalents funded: 
18.0
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY11, DNR biologists will assess 200 lakes for nearshore fish communities, along with accompanying littoral zone and pelagic game and nongame fish surveys. Twenty lakes will receive multiple nearshore surveys per field seaon for quality control purposes.
Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY11, DNR biologists completed 228 nearshore assessments on 204 lakes for nearshore fish communities. Littoral and pelagic game and nongame fish surveys were also completed.
Project Details:
2010 Fiscal Year
Legal Citation / Subdivision: 
M.L. 2009, Ch. 172, Art. 2, Sec. 5(a)
Appropriation Language 
$1,240,000 the first year and $2,460,000 the second year are for assisting in water quality assessments in supporting the identification of impaired waters.
Fiscal Year Funding Amount: 
$200,000
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY10, DNR biologists will assess 60 lakes for nearshore nongame fish populations.
Measurable Outcome(s) 
In FY10, DNR biologists assessed 22 lakes for nearshore nongame fish populations. DNR Fisheries management staff were trained to do nearshore nongame fish population assessments in preparation for transition of assessment program from the Division of Ecological and Water Resources to the Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Project Overview

The Index of Biological Integrity (IBI) is a tool that can identify water pollution problems based on how the type and abundance of certain species in a biological community vary from expected conditions. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency currently uses IBIs for fish and macroinvertebrates (stream-dwelling insects and other critters) to help determine whether streams and rivers are impacted by water pollution. The DNR has developed a similar tool for fish in lakes and is working towards finalizing a tool using aquatic plants, to identify lakes that may be impacted to support Legacy Amendment assessment efforts. The development of an IBI involves sampling a wide range of lakes, from high-quality systems to those with significant water quality impacts, plus detailed statistical analysis. The DNR's current effort is focused on collecting information about the entire fish community including non-game fish that have not been traditionally sampled by fishery managers and are often more sensitive to watershed and shoreline disturbance. The DNR is developing a plant IBI, especially important for assessing shallower wildlife lakes. The DNR participates in the MPCA watershed assessment process, bringing the Fish IBI and plant IBI data and interpretation to identify impaired lakes, those meeting standards, and lakes of exceptional biological quality. In addition, the DNR is providing an analysis of the stressors contributing to impairment on lakes listed as impaired for fish IBI.

About the Issue

Water pollution problems in lakes have traditionally been identified with water chemistry or water clarity samples, which give a brief snap-shot in time for a limited number of pollutants. An IBI tells more about the water's ability to support plant and animal species over the long term. For example, the absence of certain "indicator species," which are sensitive to pollution, points to stress factors that may require further study. The IBI approach can provide a complimentary approach to expensive chemical sampling and can be established using data already being collected for fishery and aquatic plant management purposes.

Project Manager

Jacquelyn
Bacigalupi
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
1601 Minneosta Drive
Brainerd
56401
218-833-8613