Long Term Research

Trout Lake Station was established in 1925 as a central location to study the diversity of lakes in northern Wisconsin.  Birge and Juday’s hopes were that by studying the different characteristics of many lakes, including a 500 lake survey, they would be able to discover some general limnological principles. Trout Lake continues to be the center of activity for several long Term Projects.

Undergrads Olivia Nyffeler and Kailee Berge sampling fish on McDermott Lake. Photo: Cassie Gauthier
Undergrads Olivia Nyffeler and Kailee Berge sampling fish on McDermott Lake. Photo: Cassie Gauthier

North Temperate Lakes Long-Term Ecological Research

North Temperate Lakes (NTL) Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) studies the ecology of lakes as one of a network of sites established by the National Science Foundation. We are interested in how biophysical setting, climate, and changing land use and cover interact to shape lake characteristics and dynamics over time (past, present, future).Our primary study sites include a set of seven northern Wisconsin and four southern Wisconsin lakes and their surrounding landscapes. The project, which started in 1981, is administered by the Center for Limnology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Microbial Observatory – McMahon Lab, Univ of WI-Madison

The study of freshwater microbial ecology has matured beyond the purely descriptive phase and now represents a compelling system in which to test explicit hypotheses addressing the physical, chemical, and biological forces that structure microbial communities. Results from our prior work suggest that various drivers are acting as a system of hierarchical constraints on freshwater microbes at different temporal and spatial scales. Therefore, we now seek to determine which factors contribute to structuring communities and populations, at regional and local spatial scales. Much of the work in this area is conducted in collaboration with the scientists working through the Center for Limnology (http://limnology.wisc.edu), the North Temperate Lakes Long Term Ecological Research site (http://lter.limnology.wisc.edu), and the Global Lakes Ecological Observatory Network (http://www.gleon.org).

Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON)

The Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network conducts innovative science by sharing and interpreting high resolution sensor data to understand, predict and communicate the role and response of lakes in a changing global environment.


NEON’s aquatic and terrestrial sites are strategically located across the U.S. within 20 eco-climatic domains that represent regions of distinct landforms, vegetation, climate and ecosystem dynamics. Learn more about the different types of field sites.