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Research and Monitoring Program

The Lake Superior Reserve conducts basic and applied scientific research while partnering with scientists from universities and public agencies. The current research program focuses on coastal systems including water quality, terrestrial and wetland ecology, invasive species, estuarine processes, and drivers of change in the context of climate change and human activity on the landscape. This work is used to inform the management and restoration of the land and waters in the region.

Ongoing Research

Harmful Algal Blooms

The St. Louis River estuary and Lake Superior are changing. The estuary and Lake Superior have begun experiencing extreme storm events, cyanobacterial blooms (also known as Harmful  Algal Blooms or HABs), erosion, and other issues. To understand what is driving changes in the estuary and Lake Superior, the Reserve and other partners are conducting work is work to identify biochemical hotspots throughout the estuary to understand current conditions and optimize future monitoring strategies for the estuary. 

Partner-led Research


The Reserve supports microplastic research lead by Dr. Lorena Rios Mendoza at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. This research is aimed at understanding both the source and impacts of microplastics in the estuary and Lake Superior.

Image of a old map painted on canvas


The aim of the History and Topography to Improve Decision-making for Estuary Restoration (HiTIDER) Project is detecting estuarine habitat loss and opportunities for future restoration in and around National Estuarine Research Reserves. This project is funded through the National Estuarine Research Reserve System Science Collaborative and employs historical and elevation-based mapping to describe the past, current, and future condition of major estuaries across the US.

Research and Monitoring Program Staff

Addison Knoll

Water Quality Technician


Hannah Ramage

Monitoring Coordinator



(715) 399-4088

Dr. Kaitlin Reinl

Research Coordinator



(715) 399-4087