Using Lake Sediments to Track Changes in Aquatic Plant Communities

Back in 2019, an MSc research project funded by the CLPOA, Western University, and MITACS was undertaken by David Zilkey on the changing condition of Gilmour Bay since the arrival in the area of European settlers.  Regrettably, Covid played havoc with getting this work completed in a timely fashion, but now a “Plain Language” advance summary of the aquatic plant portion of his report can be found here.  A more comprehensive report will be forthcoming.

A unique goal of David’s research was to see if paleolimnology techniques could be used to determine how nearshore aquatic plants have changed over time and in particular to see if there is a way to track the timing of the arrival and spread of invasive aquatic plants (eg Milfoil).  (The short answer is “maybe”, but will require future work.)

An intriguing aspect of the field work was the collection of an exceptionally long (6 m) sediment core using the lake ice as a platform.  This core would include material laid down since the time of the glacier retreat over 10,000 years ago.  Only the top 0.75 m were needed for this particular study; the remaining 5.25 m are being preserved at the LARS lab at Western for potential future research.

David’s project is one of three completed by Western University Scientists on our lake over the last few years.  We are very fortunate to have qualified scientists looking at the condition of our lake.  Not only does it help us better understand what is going on, it also establishes a knowledge base upon which future researchers might build.

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