Laura Bates

Credentials: PhD Student, Environment and Resources


MS - San Jose State University (Environmental Studies), 2019
BS - Michigan State University (Environmental Engineering), 2015

Research interests: watershed management, stream ecology, biological indicators, nutrient ratios, water quality, limnology

Current project: My research uses diatoms and macroinvertebrates as biological indicators to assess stream conditions and develop nutrient criteria for tributaries feeding into Green Lake, Wisconsin’s deepest inland lake. Restoration effectiveness and water quality will be assessed based on the response of biological assemblages to local natural and anthropogenic stressors within the Green Lake Watershed. This study will also indicate biological responses to different nitrogen and phosphorus ratios and help establish Total Phosphorus and Total Nitrogen thresholds at boundaries between impaired and unimpaired streams.

Why this matters: Green Lake is under threat of eutrophication, which is caused by excessive nutrient inputs and can significantly impair aquatic ecosystems. The surrounding land use around Green Lake is mainly agriculture, which can feed nutrients into tributaries that drain directly into the lake, but it is expensive and impractical to completely restore and protect all segments of Green Lake’s tributaries. This research will help watershed managers understand how nutrient pollution and other anthropogenic activities are influencing biological assemblages in Green Lake’s tributaries and help target locations where restoration efforts would be most beneficial to achieving water quality goals.