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This function allows you to sketch shapes or add annotations to the map. To use the tool, select the desired shape, and click the text checkbox if you would like a label included. Draw the shapes as follows:

  • Point – click once on the map. Points can also be moved by clicking on them and dragging.
  • Circle – click and hold, and drag to increase the diameter of the circle.
  • Polyline (line made up of multiple straight segments) – click once to start the line, and click to add vertices (corners), and double click to end the line.
  • Freehand Polyline – click and hold, and drag in the desired shape.
  • Polygon (shape with straight sides) – click once to start, click to add vertices (corners), and double click to close.
  • Freehand Polygon – click and hold, and drag the cursor in the desired shape.

After you are happy with the object you have added, click stop drawing. At this point you can save your map or print it. The clear button removes all of the objects which have been added.

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The search function allows you to select specific features from any layer and navigate the map in several ways. The resulting queries will display a list of the matching features in a table shown at the bottom of the window (except for the address query). Click on different rows to see corresponding features highlighted on the map. Close the results tab when finished.

  • Attributes – This function displays the attributes for the selected layer, shows the values, and allows you to build a SQL query of the attributes for the selected layer. Your query can include multiple attribute fields.
  • Spatial – This function allows you to draw an object, and select all the features in the target layer that intersect the drawn object. The search can be conducted to include a buffer around the object you add.
  • Address – Zoom to the location for a street address, or city and state/province.
  • Selection – Displays the features in the target layer which intersect with another layer.
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The save tool allows you to save the active layers, zoom extent, and any drawings in your browser’s cache. Therefore, this tool is useful for when you will return to the tool on the same device, but does not allow you to share your file with a colleague. You can save three different maps, and maps saved to a slot will overwrite any existing map.

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This tool allows you to produce a map which can be downloaded, printed, or shared. To use it, select a title, file format, layout, and adjust any other settings.

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This tool allows you to export the data for some of the layers shown in the website. To use it, select the desired format and the layer you would like to extract. Users interested in bulk download of the GLAHF framework or data can obtain that from the GLAHF website, or by contacting the GLAHF research team.

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The measure tool allows you to measure the area contained in a polygon, distance, or view the longitude and latitude of any location on the map. Distances and shapes shown on the map will be slightly bent, because the shortest distance between two points on a map using the Mercator projection is not a straight line!

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Team Members

Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Fish Division/Institute for Fisheries Research

University of Michigan
School of Natural Resources

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Land Information Ontario
Mapping and Information Resources Branch

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Mid-Continent Ecology Division

U.S. Geological Survey
New England Water Science Center
Great Lakes Science Center

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Lower Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office

The Nature Conservancy
Michigan Office

Michigan State University
Department of Fisheries and Wildlife

International Joint Commission
Great Lakes Office

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The administrative boundaries database contains boundaries in categories political boundaries, lake units, and protected areas.  This includes vector boundary delineations for states and provinces, counties, townships, urban areas, fish management units, fish statistical districts, minute grids, marine protected areas, fish refuges, military restricted areas, federal lands, state and provincial lands, conservation and wildlife areas, tribal and First Nation lands, and Tribal Consent Decree boundaries. Available as a single download in Esri file geodatabase format.

download administrative boundaries

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Benthic data have been compiled from various sources including U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO), NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL), and targeted lake monitoring activities, such as the Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative, Lake Erie Forage Task Group, and the Lake Michigan Mass Balance.  The data indices calculated by the GLAHF project include Oligocheata Trophic Index (OTI), Chironomidae Trophic Index (CTI), Shannon index of diversity, Simpson index of diversity, Pielou eveness index, taxa richness, Oligochaetae abundance, Chironomidae abundance, Bivalves abundance, Diporeia abundance, Dressenidae abundance, proportion of Oligochatae, ratio of Oligochaetae / Chironomidae.

download benthos locations & metadata


Fish species locations, community, and spawning data have been compiled from USGS trawl surveys, Lake Erie cooperative state and provincial sampling, Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources, and the Goodyear Spawning Atlas and additional published spawning locations.  Depending on the lake and available data some of the fish species metrics such as, CPUE, taxa richness, and diversity indices.

download link for fish presence database coming soon  – coming soon!

download Goodyear Spawning Atlas Plus locations


Invasive species are a possible threat to the Great Lakes ecosystem.  The GLAHF project has been working with collaborators to incorporate known invasives data into the spatial database.  USGS and Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) partnered to create data layers showing areas of coastal Phragmites in the Great Lakes Basin. Aquatic invasive species occurrence records are from the Great Lakes Aquatic Nonindigenous Species Information System (GLANSIS), and include occurrences of algae, crustaceans, fishes, mollusks, plants, protozoans, reptiles, and viruses.  See benthos, fish, and zooplankton sections for more information about specific invasive species.

download Great Lakes GLANSIS data

 Submerged Aquatic Vegetation

MTRI has developed satellite algorithms to interpret locations of submerged aquatic vegetation (predominately Cladophora). The Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources Lake St. Clair Fisheries Research Station collected submerged aquatic vegetation plant surveys and GLAHF interpolated the data to create SAV maps.

download link for Lake St. Clair SAV


To date zooplankton from the Lake Erie Forage Task Group and the Lake Ontario Lower Foodweb Assessment (LOLA) are available.  We are waiting to incorporate data from the U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO), and National Coastal Condition Assessment.

download link for zooplankton database – coming soon!

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Environmental & Chemical

Water chemistry and physical parameters (sampling)

In the nearshore areas of the Great Lakes we have compiled water chemistry from the U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) National Coastal Condition Assessment and Nearshore Program (TRIAXUS surveys) and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change Great Lakes Nearshore Index Stations.  Offshore water chemistry has been compiled for the water column sampling by the U.S. EPA GLNPO Monitoring, Environment Canada Great Lakes Surveillance Program, and target lake sampling activities such as the Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative and the Lake Erie Forage Task Group.

download link for water quality sampling database

 Water chemistry and physical parameters (satellite derived)

Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) have developed satellite algorithms to determine concentrations of chlorophyll-a, suspended minerals, Kd-490, and dissolved organic carbon specific to the open waters of the Great Lakes.  Please contact MTRI to obtain satellite derived data.

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  • About GLAHF

    Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Framework is a comprehensive spatial framework, database, and classification for Great Lakes ecological data.
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    • School for Environment & Sustainability

      University of Michigan 440 Church Street Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1041 website
    • Institute for Fisheries Research

      400 North Ingalls
      NIB G250
      Ann Arbor, MI