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NSERC Canadian Lake Pulse Network


Canada has more lakes than any other country. They are a precious resource, and we rely on them for many things, including drinking water, food, recreation and a variety of economic, social and cultural activities. But across Canada, the ability of lakes to play their ecological role is being compromised by the impacts of human activity, such as domestic, agricultural and industrial pollution and climate change. To be able to protect Canadian lakes, we must answer the following questions.

  • What is the current health of these lakes?
  • How has it changed?
  • How might it change in future?

To answer these questions, the NSERC Canadian Lake Pulse Network will be conducting multidisciplinary research over the next five years.

Network Structure

The NSERC Canadian Lake Pulse Network brings together 18 researchers from 15 Canadian universities and partner researchers from across Canada and around the world. Their complementary areas of expertise include all aspects of limnology (lake science), as well as spatial modelling, analytical chemistry, public health, remote sensing and a number of other disciplines. The network’s researchers will be working closely with scientists from several provincial and territorial environment ministries, a number of federal departments and agencies, and Ouranos, a Quebec-based consortium on regional climatology.

The network’s scientific work will be steered by a scientific committee composed of senior researchers who are network members, as well as other researchers who work with it as partners or as international advisors. The network will be overseen and advised by a board of directors representing its stakeholders.

Research Objectives

To help its partners fulfill their role of lake stewardship, the network will attempt to answer the following four key research questions.

  1. Where, by how much and why have Canadian lakes changed during the Anthropocene?

  2. How do taxonomic, molecular and biochemical features of planktonic, benthic and microbial communities change with lake alteration and which of these changes can most effectively be used as indicators of the health of Canadian lakes?

  3. What are the optical, morphometric and watershed properties of Canadian lakes that can be applied to “scale up” assessments of the health of individual lakes to groups of lakes by means of remote sensing and spatial modelling?

  4. How will lake ecosystems and the services that they provide react to various scenarios of environmental change?

To answer these questions, the network will obtain a large database of lake characteristics and changes in them. Because the drivers of change and the responses of lakes are spatially heterogeneous, the network will rely heavily on extensive sampling and on the existing data sets developed by its partners, applying geomatic and spatial modelling tools to extrapolate local and regional results to larger scales.


The outcomes that the network hopes to provide will directly benefit the stewardship of Canadian lakes while advancing the science of limnology. These outcomes include:

  1. a large database of lake characteristics, obtained through an extensive sampling program covering most of southern Canada and some parts of northern Canada;

  2. pan-Canadian and regional assessments of the current health of Canadian lakes and the most important drivers of changes in these lakes;

  3. predictions of changes that may occur in these lakes in the future, given realistic scenarios of land use and climate change.

The database and other outcomes will be posted publicly on an interactive website so that scientists can use them to map various indexes and parameters for individual lakes across Canada.


Yannick Huot
Principal Investigator
Tel.: 819-821-8000, ext. 65542

Contact us at 1-877-767-1767