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An In-Depth Look at Idaho’s Lakes

New lab at UI Coeur d’Alene will study natural, social aspects of lakes

North Idaho lakes draw anglers and boaters, attract tourists, and support vibrant wildlife and plants. Lakes also serve as harbingers of change in watersheds, social structures, climate and more.

Researchers at the University of Idaho’s new Lake Social Ecological Systems Laboratory, or LaSES, located on the lakeshore at UI Coeur d’Alene, will study North Idaho lakes’ interacting natural systems and how they affect — and are affected by — the human communities around them.

The lab is a project of UI’s Idaho Water Resources Research Institute, and closely cooperates with scientists from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.

One of LaSES’ most important elements is student research: The lab’s first cohort from UI and conducted projects on Lake Coeur d’Alene over the summer.

Student Steve Van Horn of Coeur d’Alene, who transferred from NIC to UI this fall, spent the summer studying how zooplankton — tiny creatures that drift in bodies of water — respond to changes in healthy Lake Coeur d’Alene and more troubled Fernan Lake.

Van Horn said his research is driven by his love for North Idaho and its lakes.

“We want to be able to use this lake,” Van Horn said. “We live in the Northwest for a clear reason, and that’s because we love the outdoors.”

Article by Tara Roberts, University Communications & Marketing

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