As climate change continues to be a threat to freshwater ecosystems, professors at Trent University are sharing solutions with the community to help them understand and reduce the impact of human behaviour.
At Trent University’s annual David Schindler lecture on March 12, Trent Biology professor Dr. Paul Frost announced the Trent Aquatic Research Program (TARP), which aims to train the next generation of aquatic scientists, while also educating the community. TARP will focus on aquatic systems in the Kawarthas and Haliburton.
Professor Frost has examined the cause and consequences of the decline of calcium in lakes across Ontario. At the event, he highlighted that the recovery from acid rain altered the delivery of calcium to lakes, which is negatively affecting the food webs.
To tackle this problem, Dr. Frost is encouraging long-term monitoring to identify lakes at risk, and says TARP will be a proactive approach for anticipating problems.
“This allows us to manage the systems better, and hopefully reduce harm and lead to a solution. We need to invest in science,” says Prof. Frost, who is holding his third term as the David Schindler Endowed Professorship.
Providing answers for a concerned audience
Patty Macdonald, a Bridgenorth resident, says she was inspired to attend the Schindler lecture to learn more about freshwater ecosystems because she worries about starry stonewort, an aggressive type of macro-algae growing in Stoney Lake. Ms. Macdonald says she is hopeful that TARP will make a meaningful difference.
“The window of opportunity for change are getting smaller and smaller,” says Ms. Macdonald. “Changes to biodiversity, fish populations, it’s all connected. We cannot afford to waste another summer trying to figure this out.”
Two other Biology professors at Trent also spoke about some other existing concerns for freshwater ecosystems and guidance for the future.
Dr. Maggie A. Xenopoulos spoke about the impacts of population growth on aquatic systems. According to Professor Xenopoulos, population growth around Lake Simcoe has caused an increase in invasive species, such as zebra mussels, which threaten the aquatic food web.
Dr. Graham Raby spoke about his research regarding fish ecology in the Great Lakes, which shows that various species of fish will react differently to the changing water temperatures. Professor Raby says climate change is a bigger threat to freshwater ecosystems than marine and terrestrial systems.
TARP is funded through The Trent Aquatic Research Program Endowment. Trent University is thankful to Ralph and Carol Ingleton who have been the driving force behind establishing the TARP endowment fund. For more information on how to support TARP please visit trentu.ca/TARP or contact Emily Vassiliadis ’94, Senior Development Officer, Sciences at 705-748-1011 ext. 7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The David Schindler lecture is an annual event, named after former Trent biology professor. As a limnologist, Schindler studied the human effects on freshwater ecosystems. The David Schindler Endowed Professorship in Aquatic Science was Trent’s first endowed professorship, established in 2008. Dr. Paul Frost is receiving this honour for his third consecutive term.