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LakeSPI: Keeping tabs on lake health

Few New Zealand lakes retain their indigenous vegetation, and the condition of many lakes is under threat from land-use changes and the invasion of alien aquatic plants.

LakeSPI (pronounced 'Lake Spy') provides a quick and cost-effective bio-assessment tool for monitoring and reporting on the ecological condition of lakes.

Historically, lake condition has been monitored by full vegetation surveys and/or physicochemical open-water sampling methods. These methods tend to be complex, costly and time-consuming and, as a result, lake monitoring is often done irregularly or not at all.

LakeSPI aims to simplify the monitoring process by assessing carefully selected features of the submerged plant communities. Since the submerged plants within a lake are good integrators of change, this type of monitoring only needs to be carried out once a year or less. As a result, LakeSPI enables regular monitoring of a wider suite of lakes than is currently possible and has proven to be a useful complement to traditional lake monitoring methods.

More than 250 lakes have already been assessed using LakeSPI; lake managers and other interested parties can freely view report cards for individual lakes or compare results on a national or regional level at on the LakeSpi website.

View the LakeSPI website.

To learn more about how LakeSPI works, see 'LakeSPI survey method'. 'Uses of LakeSPI' summarises the many ways in which LakeSPI is being used by lake managers. For guidance on how to use LakeSPI results in regional or national reports, see 'Reporting guidelines'.


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Freshwater Ecologist
Diver carrying out survey in Lake Waikaremoana. Credit: John Clayton
Native Potamogeton plants growing in Lake Ototoa. Credit: Rohan Wells