Biological responses to multiple environmental stressors in lakes around Yellowknife, NT

Regions: North Slave Region

Tags: phytoplankton, zooplankton, paleoclimatology

Principal Investigator: Smol, John P (7)
Licence Number: 16537
Organization: Queen's University
Licenced Year(s): 2019
Issued: May 09, 2019
Project Team: Jennifer Korosi (Collaborator, York University)

Objective(s): To understand the spatial distribution of phytoplankton and zooplankton species in lakes around the Yellowknife area and provide environmental context to the ongoing paleolimnological investigations.

Project Description: The main goal is to understand the spatial distribution of phytoplankton and zooplankton species in lakes around the Yellowknife area and provide environmental context to the ongoing paleolimnological (reconstructing the environmental histories of lakes) investigations.

This year, the research team aim to collect phytoplankton and zooplankton from a suite of lakes around Yellowknife following methods described below.

The lakes will be accessed by road and sampled using an inflatable boat with paddles or canoes. The team will use a helicopter to sample a few lakes that are not accessible by roads.
At each lake, the team will collect water, phytoplankton and zooplankton samples from a variety of habitats (pelagic/openwater, littoral/nearshore, rock scrapes, macrophytes). The collection of samples will be conducted using the following equipment: vandoren sample, Schindler trap, plankton net tow, Nalgene bottles.

Additionally, the research team will use a probe to measure pH, dissolved oxygen and temperature on site to better inform the biological interpretations.

All phytoplankton and zooplankton samples will be preserved and transported to Queen's University and York University. There they will be identified under a microscope and statistical approaches will be applied to understand the spatial variation in the biological communities.

Lastly, the team will collect sediment core samples from some lakes to assess changes in the algal and zooplankton communities over the past ~200 years. These samples will be collected using a gravity corer and this process will not cause any significant disturbance to the bottom sediments of lakes.

The research team’s research is based out of the city of Yellowknife and there are several opportunities for local involvement in various capacities. We have fostered strong collaborations and partnerships with researchers during our previous field seasons. Regular meetings with the research partners provide updates about the projects and discuss the implications of results to the management of water resources around Yellowknife. Additionally, the team are working on a project related to algal blooms on Jackfish Lake where a power plant is located. The research team will give presentations will provide an overview of paleolimnological information regarding the long-term ecosystem health of lakes around Yellowknife (e.g. Kam Lake, Grace Lake, Niven Lake) that are regularly used by community members.

The research team is committed to sharing findings with government and community partners along with other interested parties through a variety of venues (e.g. Annual Geoscience Forum in Yellowknife, meetings with local stakeholders). The theses and publications arising from this research project will be shared with the Aurora Research Institute and our research partners in Yellowknife. Furthermore, the research team are happy to organize knowledge sharing platforms in Yellowknife to communicate the findings, if there is interest.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from June 10, 2019 to August 21, 2019.