Project 4-1
Theme 4

Role of floods on aquatic ecosystem condition

Leader:

Dr. Marguerite Xenopoulos (Trent University)
Email:  mxenopoulos@trentu.ca

Co-investigators:

Dr. Elena Bennett (McGill University)
Email:  elena.bennett@mcgill.ca

Dr. Altaf Arain (McMaster University)
Email:  arainm@mcmaster.ca

Objectives: The objectives of this project are to: i) examine the effects of flooding or high water levels on surface water quality of forested, urban and agriculture catchments; ii) quantify nutrient budgets of flooded forested and agriculture catchments; iii) analyze the frequency of flood events in regulated and non-regulated rivers and their relation to ecosystem condition; and iv) link flooding events or high water levels to ecosystem structure (e.g., biodiversity) and function (e.g., primary production) and aquatic ecosystem services.

Significance: Floods play an important role in maintaining key ecosystem functions and biodiversity (Bunn and Arthington, 2002; Poff et al., 2003). Large floods are often tightly coupled to ecological life history cycles (e.g., breeding, feeding and migration) and link the river with the land by distributing water, nutrients and sediments, recharging groundwater and filling wetlands. But floods also increase loading of nutrients into aquatic ecosystems increasing the risk of eutrophication (Hrdinka et al., 2012; Schindler et al., 2012).

Outcomes: We will provide much needed scientific information, data analysis, and links between flooding and aquatic ecosystem condition to facilitate the development of management and conservation plans.