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Aquatic Ecosystem Monitoring

A Caucasian water scientist using a net

What is it?

Ecosystem monitoring is a way to measure changes in ecosystem health over time. An ecosystem is considered healthy if it has ecological integrity, which means it has:

  • Biodiversity – a diversity of native species present

  • Natural functioning ecosystems to sustain life processes (e.g., wetlands that can filter water and provide habitat for frogs, turtles and many other fish and wildlife species)

  • Minimal or No Stressors – factors that impact the health of our lakes include invasive species, climate change, nutrient loading, large scale development, shoreline alterations and water level fluctuations

Objectives Of Our 2020 Monitoring Program

1. To increase understanding, awareness and response to reduce the spread and mitigate the impacts of invasive species including Starry Stonewort and other aquatic invasive species in Stoney, Clear and White Lakes.

2. To inspire and engage youth volunteers and cottagers to participate in citizen science in collecting and reporting

wildlife observations, including species at risk.

3. To initiate research and monitoring projects that support long-term ecosystem monitoring objectives to monitor and report on the state of aquatic ecosystem health. This will enable a proactive and science informed response to development proposals on the lakes.

Beautiful yellow Water lily (nuphar lute

Why Monitor Ecosystems?

​Current research and monitoring programs often look at a single species when in fact we are seeing multiple stressors causing rapid changes that impact full aquatic ecosystems. An aquatic ecosystem approach will allow us to monitor indicators of ecosystem health to better understand and protect biodiversity, habitats and natural processes needed to sustain healthy functioning ecosystems. 


  • Multiple stressors are impacting aquatic ecosystems (e.g., invasive species, climate change, nutrient loading, development, water level fluctuations)
  • Rapid and unpredictable changes impacting both structure and function of ecosystems.

  • Research activities are often opportunistic, focus on a single species or stressor and not coordinated with long-term monitoring.

  • Lack updated, long-term data needed to assess development impacts and to inform resource management actions to protect biodiversity and ecosystem health.

  • Overall decline in aquatic ecosystem health (decline in native species, increase in invasive species, loss of fish habitat and decline in water quality).

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