Ecosystem Resilience Initiative

About Strategic Initiatives

To meet our mission of delivering integrated research solutions, NRRI is focused on three strategic initiatives that address the challenges of Minnesota’s resource-based economy. These initiatives are bold and long-term efforts to create the economy of the future by incorporating diverse expertise across NRRI, the University system and with our partners.

Initiative Overview

Three researchers take water sample from lake.

Understanding the ecosystems we live in and the benefits they offer is critical to characterizing, mitigating, remediating and avoiding harmful societal impacts. Science-based data is needed to make sound, natural resource decisions as we respond to climate change, consider aspects of environmental and social justice, define and maintain the social license to operate, and identify viable options as we develop the economy of the future.


Minnesota has a wealth of natural resources that support economic development and wildlife conservation. NRRI’s Ecosystem Resilience Initiative addresses the challenges of human-caused impacts and the ability of water resources to absorb the various disturbances and reorganize while maintaining critical functions for wildlife and environmental health.


Document ecosystem relationships and develop tools to monitor, remediate and manage water resources – from water source to the end of the pipe. This highly collaborative Initiative pulls from all of NRRI’s expertise platforms to address the complexity of Ecosystem Resilience and understand how to balance economic drivers with environmental stewardship.

Sample Projects

  • Effective and inexpensive sulfate remediation technologies
  • Great Lakes Sediment Surveillance for legacy and emerging contaminants
  • Assessment of technologies to prevent introduction of invasive species via ballast water
  • Long-term Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands Monitoring of vegetation and wildlife
  • Long-term retrospective research to understand water quality changes over hundreds of years and put modern goals in a baseline context


  • International Joint Commission
  • State / Federal / Local governmental agencies
  • NGOs: Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Great Lakes Audubon, American Bird Conservancy, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, Shedd Aquarium, Daniel P. Hearther Center for Conservation Research, Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Michigan State University, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Ecology, Universite de Montreal, UC Santa Barbara
  • Industry Partners: Minnesota Power, Yawkey Mineral Management LLC, UPM/Blandin
  • Minnesota Land Trust
  • Tribal Partners: 1854 Treaty Authority, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  • National and Global University Partners
  • University of Minnesota system
  • Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants

Ecosystem Resilience Programs

Driving better decision making through effective use of data and information.

Seeking to understand Minnesota's forest landscapes and ecosystems.

Developing customized software applications that allow our partners to efficiently understand data, share information, and make better decisions.

Developing science-based tools, materials and technologies to assess and protect our freshwater resources.

Water quality assessment, remediation and management. 

Seeking to understand the world we live in, impact

Ecosystem Resilience Projects

The Minnesota Fisher Den Box Project is focused on evaluating an emerging habitat management tool to address the declining MN fisher population.

A website of the state's carnivore species -- from the tiny least weasel to the black bear.

Documenting long-term population trends of breeding forest birds in the Chippewa and Superior National Forests.

Recent News

Gray and white bird sits on slim branch.

Warm winter weather in northern latitudes can have both positive and negative effects on well-known and beloved resident bird species, like the Canada Jay, Boreal Chickadee and Black-capped Chickad

Planet earth as seen from space.

Favorite five 2023 stories about NRRI research addressing climate change challenges.

Woman in white lab coat and safety glasses works in a lab at computer screen.

UMD master's graduate goes all in for aquatic chemistry for environmental protection

Woman standing outdoors with mountains in background

Wildlife biologist finds NRRI research on the 'wild side' fits her life and passion.