The Great Lakes are an important aquatic ecosystem in the Midwest. Recreational industry, which helps stimulate the economy and natural resources that provide for large populations in the Midwest, reflect the health of these aquatic ecosystems. Industrial agriculture in the Great Lakes region is also an important resource for local and global populations. These resources clash as agricultural land management practices alter the nitrogen cycle, causing eutrophication in local aquatic ecosystems. As the impacts of industrial agriculture on Great Lakes aquatic ecosystems became understood, organic land management strategies were developed and implemented. However, organic farming was based on outdated techniques and formed largely based on consumer desires. I reviewed five studies that surveyed benthic macroinvertebrate populations near farms that implemented conservation and conventional land management strategies. Because benthic macroinvertebrates are indicators of ecosystem health, data on their populations can be used to understand the impacts of agriculture on aquatic ecosystems. My results show that sediment in agricultural runoff impacts benthic macroinvertebrate communities by reducing in stream habitat, food availability and water quality. Therefore, conservation land management strategies which focus on reducing sediment in agricultural runoff improve aquatic ecosystem health more than organic farming. To protect the Great Lakes natural resources, industrial agriculture in the Midwest must implement land management strategies that reduce sediment in runoff significantly.


Moreno, Carlo


Environmental Studies

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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