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Lake-level regulation alters wetland plant communities and their role in providing faunal habitat. Regulation plans have sometimes been changed to restore ecosystem function; however, few studies have shown the effects of such changes. In 2000, a new plan was implemented for regulation of Rainy Lake and Namakan Reservoir in northern Minnesota, USA. We had studied wetland plant communities under the previous 1970 regulation plan in 1987 and used those data to evaluate changes during 2002–2006 and 2010 resampling efforts using the same methods. Ordinations showed that plant communities changed little on Rainy Lake, where regulation changes were minor. However, on Namakan Reservoir, substantial changes had occurred in both vegetation and faunal habitat within two years, as plants favored by dewatering were replaced by submersed aquatic plants favored by year-round flooding under the new 2000 regulation plan. After ten years, Namakan showed greater similarity to unregulated Lac La Croix but still differed overall. Longer-term studies may be needed to determine if the regulation-plan change continues to alter Namakan plant communities. The speed at which changes began suggests that studies on other regulated lakes should begin in the first growing season following implementation of a new regulation plan and should continue periodically for a decade or longer.

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Wetlands (2018) 38:437–449