Culminating Project Title
Date of Award
Culminating Project Type
Biological Sciences - Ecology and Natural Resources: M.S.
College of Science and Engineering
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Keywords and Subject Headings
Ecology, Drawdown, Limnology, Wild Rice, Water Quality
In this masters thesis, my work is focused on a lake located north of St. Cloud in Rice, Minnesota called Little Rock Lake. Here, I have exercised the idea of testing a model of wild rice growth in its correct ecological conditions. These conditions were soil type, water depth, day length, and nutrient level. Obtaining growth of wild rice according to these parameters required adjustments to the system’s nutrient imbalance. Little Rock Lake, like any shallow lake, suffers from severe eutrophication in their system which has changed the dynamics of their lake. Overloads of phosphorus in a water body change the water chemistry in terms of which algal groups are able to grow. In 2007, Little Rock Lake experienced an extreme blue-green algae bloom which produced microcystin toxins that posed an acute health risk to resident of the lake and individuals living downstream. In efforts to improve the water quality, tax payers of Little Rock Lake worked with the Minnesota DNR to perform a drawdown. The drawdown was a novel mitigation strategy to promote remediation and establish long term sustainability in a shallow lake ecosystem. Wild rice was utilized in the phosphorus removal process as well, provided by the Mille Lacs Band Indigenous group. Rice populations were found growing naturally in Little Rock Lake for many years prior to enriched nutrient levels dominating the system. Wild Rice is known for its ability to absorb large amounts of nutrients from bodies of water and it also serves as a phosphorus sink through waterfowl consumption and removal outside the water column through their fecal matter. Wild rice establishment in Little Rock Lake is influenced by a physical barrier, not a chemical obstacle. Varying substrates and water depths are effecting wild rice growth in ideal planting locations. Little Rock Lake experienced water level fluctuations of nearly 3 feet throughout the growing season in 2022. Although severe depth changes affect the reestablishment of wild rice in the system, utilizing other plant species to maintain high water quality is advised. Plant species that grow in a variety of depths is recommended for future restoration efforts in Little Rock Lake.
Olinger, Mason D.; Julius, Matthew L.; Davis, Matthew P.; and Ore, Tracy E., "Is Wild Rice the Correct Choice for Habitat Restoration in Little Rock Lake, MN, A Managed Shallow Lake Ecosystem in the Upper Midwest" (2022). Culminating Projects in Biology. 60.