Understanding the factors that affect water quality and the ecological services provided by freshwater ecosystems is an urgent global environmental issue. Predicting how water quality will respond to global changes not only requires water quality data, but also information about the ecological context of individual water bodies across broad spatial extents. Because lake water quality is usually sampled in limited geographic regions, often for limited time periods, assessing the environmental controls of water quality requires compilation of many data sets across broad regions and across time into an integrated database. LAGOS-NE accomplishes this goal for lakes in the northeastern-most 17 US states.
LAGOS-NE contains data for 51 101 lakes and reservoirs larger than 4 ha in 17 lake-rich US states. The database includes 3 data modules for: lake location and physical characteristics for all lakes; ecological context (i.e., the land use, geologic, climatic, and hydrologic setting of lakes) for all lakes; and in situ measurements of lake water quality for a subset of the lakes from the past 3 decades for approximately 2600–12 000 lakes depending on the variable. The database contains approximately 150 000 measures of total phosphorus, 200 000 measures of chlorophyll, and 900 000 measures of Secchi depth. The water quality data were compiled from 87 lake water quality data sets from federal, state, tribal, and non-profit agencies, university researchers, and citizen scientists. This database is one of the largest and most comprehensive databases of its type because it includes both in situ measurements and ecological context data. Because ecological context can be used to study a variety of other questions about lakes, streams, and wetlands, this database can also be used as the foundation for other studies of freshwaters at broad spatial and ecological scales.