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Minnesota Water Science Center

Physical, Chemical, and Biological Characteristics of Sturgeon Lake, Goodhue County, Minnesota, 2003-04

U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigation Report 2005-5182—ONLINE ONLY

By Kathy E. Lee, Christopher A. Sanocki, and Gary R. Montz

This report is available as a pdf.


The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Prairie Island Indian Community and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, conducted a study of Sturgeon Lake (a backwater lake in Navigation Pool 3 of the Mississippi River) during 2003-04 to describe the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the lake. Riparian and shoreline areas surrounding Sturgeon Lake consist primarily of deciduous tree and shrub cover with minimal amounts of commercial or residential land use. Woody debris and aquatic vegetation are the major types of physical habitat suitable for fish and invertebrates. Among 10 bottom-sediment sampling sites, 24 organic wastewater compounds, 1 organochlorine pesticide metabolite (p,p’DDE), and total polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were detected in the bottom sediments of Sturgeon Lake. The most prevalent class of compounds detected were polyaromatic hydrocarbons. Other classes of compounds detected include sterols, disinfectants, plastic components, alkylphenols, and fragrances. Three compounds detected (bisphenol A, benzo[a]pyrene, and triclosan) are considered endocrine disrupting compounds. Twenty-one and 49 invertebrate taxa were identified from 10 bottom-sediment and 6 woody-debris/vegetation samples, respectively. Most of the taxa were Diptera in the family Chironomidae. The most common invertebrate in terms of density in bottom-sediment samples was the burrowing mayfly (Hexagenia sp.). Trichoptera in the families Hydropsychidae or Polycentropodidae were common in most of the woody-debris samples. The presence of the Hexagenia larvae in samples indicates that the bottom sediments are stable and that dissolved oxygen concentrations in the lake do not drop to acute or sub-lethal anoxic conditions. Backwater lakes such as Sturgeon Lake are important areas of habitat for aquatic organisms along the Mississippi River, and this report provides baseline physical, chemical, and biological information that resource managers can compare with future investigations.

This report is contained in the following file:

SIR2005_5182.pdf (11,0 mb)

The files are readable with Adobe Acrobat Reader. The reader is available for free download from Adobe Systems Incorporated. (Four appendixes in Microsoft Excel format are linked from Contents.)

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Purpose and Scope


Bathymetry—Data collection and processing

Bottom-sediment composition—Collection and processing

Physical habitat—Field characterization

Contaminants in bottom sediment—Sample collection and processing techniques

Contaminants in bottom sediment—Laboratory analyses

Invertebrates—Sample collection and processing techniques

Quality Assurance

Physical Characteristics

Chemical Characteristics

Biological Characteristics



Send questions or comments about this report to the author, Kathy E. Lee at, 763.783.3254.

For more information about USGS activities in Minnesota, visit the Minnesota District home page.

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