ENSC Seminar - Tracking the consequences of acid rain and other environmental stressors


“Aquatic osteoporosis” and the “jellification of lakes”: 
Tracking some surprising long-term consequences of acid rain
and other environmental stressors 


Dr. John Smol  
Biology Department, Queen's University 


Wednesday, January 27th, 2016
3:30 p.m.  

2nd Floor Conference Rooms
River Building



One of the greatest challenges faced by ecologists, water quality managers, and other environmental scientists is using appropriate time scales.  Due to the general lack of reliable long-term monitoring data, it is often difficult to determine the nature and timing of ecosystem changes. In lieu of direct monitoring data, paleolimnologists have developed a variety of approaches to track past changes in aquatic ecosystems using proxy data archived in lake and river sediments. This presentation summarizes recent work exploring a relatively new environmental problem, namely the decline of lakewater calcium concentrations in softwater lake systems that were previously affected by acidic deposition and/or timber harvesting. The presentation will summarize recent studies documenting ecological changes resulting from this previously unrecognized problem. 



Dr. Smol is professor of biology (cross-appointed with the School of Environmental Studies) at Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario), where he also holds the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change. Smol founded and co-directs the Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Lab (PEARL), a group of ~40 students and other scientists dedicated to the study of long-term global environmental change, and especially as it relates to lake ecosystems. Smol has authored over 500 journal publications and chapters since 1980, as well as completed 21 books. Much of his research deals with the impacts of climatic change, acidification, eutrophication, contaminant transport, and other environmental stressors. He has led research on circumpolar Arctic lakes for 3 decades. Smol was the founding Editor of the international Journal of Paleolimnology (1987-2007) and is the current Editor of the journal Environmental Reviews.  Since 1990 Smol has been awarded over 50 research and teaching awards and fellowships, including the 2004 NSERC Herzberg Gold Medal as Canada’s top scientist or engineer. A 3M Teaching Fellow, he has won 11 teaching, mentoring and scientific outreach awards, and was named by Nature magazine, following a nation-wide search, to be Canada’s Top Mid-Career Scientific Mentor.  He is currently Chair of the International Paleolimnology Association (IPA). In 2013, John was named an Officer of the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honour.