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 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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Lake Bottom

The bathymetry for the Great Lakes was obtained from NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information.  Lake bottom slope and relief were derived from the bathymetry.  Combining the bathymetry and relief in classes we created 24 classes of hydrogeoforms based on the concepts in Hammond’s Landforms to identify features on the lake bottom.  Known reef locations in the Great Lakes were compiled from various sources including USGS publications and Geographic Names Information System (GNIS).

download bathymetry

Erie      Huron     Michigan     Ontario     Superior

download lake bottom slope

Erie      Huron      Michigan      Ontario     Superior

download lake bottom relief

download hydrogeoforms

download known reef locations


Shoreline classifications have been compiled from NOAA’s Environmental Sensitivity Index and Environment Canada’s Environment Sensitivity Atlas.  Lake Erie and portions of Lake Michigan’s shoreline classification do not exist in geospatial digital form, so the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACEs) shoreline descriptions from the 2012 oblique imagery were also included.  USACEs and Environment Canada geomorphology classification includes descriptions of protection, nearshore, and geomorphology.  USACEs and NOAA light detection and ranging (LiDAR) for the U.S. coastal areas of the Great Lakes a portions of the northshore of Lake Ontario.  Metrics were derived from the LiDAR including contours, slope, relief, and bottom roughness. Shoreline sinuosity was calculated using the shoreline delineation compiled for the Great Lakes Hydrography Dataset. The GLHD shoreline was divided into 1km segments and sinuosity was calculated.

download harmonized shoreline classifications

download Great Lakes shoreline & islands

download shoreline sinuosity


Substrate for the bottom of the Great Lakes in the offshore regions was digitized from peer reviewed publications.  In the coastal and nearshore zones, the USACEs shoreline material descriptions (2012) were extended to 30 m of depth and confirmed by researchers across the Great Lakes and benthic sampling data. In Lake Erie, the Lake Erie Habitat Task Group has collected fine scale substrate data from tow, grab sample, and underwater video data to support management decisions for fish habitat.  Several other locations included fine scale substrate data such as the Illinois waters of Lake Michigan, and in the nearshore areas of Minnesota, Lake Superior.

download substrate

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Coastal wetlands

In the mid-2000s the Great Lakes Commission convened the Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Consortium (GLCWC) to identify hydrologically connected coastal wetlands across the entire Great Lakes Basin.  The final data set identifies the areas and hydrogeomorphic wetland types the coastal wetlands.  We have enhance the data set by aggregating the wetlands into 3 major types (open, protected, and delta) and creating data layers that describe the distance and direction to these 3 wetland types. Michigan Tech Research Institute (MTRI) created an updated wetlands and land use data within 10 km of the Great Lakes shoreline, which have also been incorporated into the GLAHF database.

download coastal wetlands

 Fish access to Great Lakes

Fish tributary access in the Great Lakes Basin was determine using the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) Plus Version 2 and the Ontario Integrated Hydrology Dataset (2012).  The tributary barriers included the USGS National Anthropogenic Barrier Dataset for the U.S. and  the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry dams and barriers.  The fish access data set identifies stream segments between the shoreline of the Great Lakes and first major barrier identified.

download fish access tributaries


While developing the Great Lakes Hydrology Dataset (GLHD) we compiled a high-resolution shoreline of the Great Lakes using best available digitized shorelines for the U.S. and Canada.

download Great Lakes shoreline & islands

 Watersheds & tributaries

Tributaries are the most dominating link between the landscape and the open waters of the Great Lakes.  We have tried to capture this link, consistently, by creating a set of watersheds and interfluves in the  Great Lakes Hydrology Dataset (GLHD). Tributaries mouths are identified as pour points in the GLHD and contain attributes of common name and stream order.  Data layers were created to calculated distance, direction, and river mouth density to all pour points in the GLHD and to only those pour points of Strahler stream order 5 and greater.  Tributaries and land adjacent to the coastal and nearshore areas of the Great Lakes are known to influence the water and aquatic habitats.  This is a very dynamic system that GLAHF tried to capture by spatially and mathematically modeling the zone most likely to be impacted by tributary and surface water runoff.  The tributary influence data layer is weighted by watershed and interfluve area, decayed by distance and water depth, the layer is then broken into 3 classes based on stream order.

download Great Lakes basin boundary

download lake basin boundaries

download tributary influence

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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