Angela De Palma-Dow, MS Student

Lake and Landscape Factors Driving Aquatic Plant Species Diversity in Isle Royale Inland Lakes


Check out this blog post from the National Park service about this work:

The Problem

  • A highly diverse aquatic plant community is essential for:
    • lake ecosystem form and function
    • community resistance to invasive species
  • We know little about genetic and species diversity in macrophyte populations and what landscape and lake factors drive that diversity.  This lack of understanding limits our ability to predict the effects of human-induced stressors, such as the introduction of invasive species, on macrophyte population and community structure due.
  • Macrophytes, limited in dispersal opportunities, rely heavily on animal mediated dispersal mechanisms and landscape connectivity for gene flow (i.e. aquatic connections, such as streams, creeks, or wetlands).
  • Isle Royale, a wilderness area, can serve as a case study for understanding the spread of exotics (e.g., zebra mussels, spiny water flea, sea lamprey) that are currently present in the surrounding waters of Lake Superior.

Research Question

  1. What is the species and genetic diversity of inland lake macrophytes on Isle Royale?
  2. What lake characteristics drive the species and genetic diversity of these aquatic plant populations and communities?
  3. Are these patterns related to freshwater connectivity (e.g., connected vs. non connected lakes)?


  • Geodatabase formation to identify connected and non-connected lakes on Isle Royale -Spring 2012
  • Intensive field sampling of macrophytes and lake physical and chemical characteristics for 12 lakes on Isle Royale – Summer 2012
  • Microsatellite genetic analysis to identify differences among populations of macrophytes –Winter 2013

Check out her blog about fieldwork on ISRO summer 2012


  • USGS (via MSU Water Resources Research Institute Program) 2012
  • Lyman Briggs College Teaching Assistantship
  • MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Scholarship

Current Employment

Aquatic Ecologist, Mountains Restoration Trust, Calabasas, CA.