The multidisciplinary research carried out in my laboratory is primarily focused on undertanding the complex relationships between lacustrine microflora and microfauna and their environment.
My students and I use a variety of paleolimnological techniques to understand the history of lakes from the perspective of: 1) the influence of climate variability on aquatic ecosystem services (AES), particularly the link between climate and lake hydroecology; 2) the impact of anthropogenic degradation on AES, and 3) the degree to which lake remediation efforts are successful in improving AES.
We assess paleolimnological change, often through analysis of freeze cores, which preserve an undisturbed record of paleolimnological change, particularly at the critical sediment-water interface. We are able to determine the rate of paleolimnological change at near annual resolution through the use of a custom-constructed freeze core microtome, developed in my lab, which permits accurate subdivision of cores to 0.2 mm. We utilize time series analysis techniques to recognize trends and cycles in the climate record, and other biostatistical methods to monitor other aspects of paleolimnological change (e.g. nutrient loading, road salt contamination, etc). We also investigate the hydroecology of modern lake systems, as accurate paleolimnological reconstructions can only be developed by comparison with present-day conditions.
Current Research Projects:
- Impact of climate change on the long-term variability of the strategically important Tibbitt to Contwoyto Winter Road, Northwest Territories. This research was supported by a just completed NSERC Strategic Project Grant where I was PI. The first students have completed their theses with more to soon follow. Research on the project will continue for some time. (funded by NSERC Strategic Project Grant (Patterson PI), several NWT Geoscience Office research grants, AANDC research grant).
- Reconstructing Holocene climate change from fjord/estuarine environments in the northeast Pacific.
- Late Quaternary climate and precipitation records archived in ombrotrophic bog deposits (e.g. Mer Bleue Bog, Ottawa, Ontario).
- Late Quaternary sea-level changes on the NE Irish coast.
- Ecology and paleoecology of benthic foraminifera on the NE Irish coast.
- Impact of mining activities on lake ecosystems within the Canadian Shield of northeastern Ontario.
- Impact of agriculture and forestry on lake ecosystems in southern New Brunswick.
- Late Quanternary climate change archived in annually deposited varves of meromictic lakes in Ontario (e.g. Teapot Lake, Brampton, Ontario, and Pink Lake, Gatineau Park, Quebec).