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Contact Us

Ulf T. Runesson

Faculty of Natural
Resources Management,
Lakehead University

955 Oliver Road,
Thunder Bay, Ontario,
Canada P7B 5E1

     (807) 343-8784

     (807) 346-7769


The wilderness of Northwestern Ontario also hosts an outdoor research centre that has produced sweeping changes to global environmental laws. The Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), covering a group of 52 small lakes southwest of Dryden, is internationally recognized for research into freshwater ecology. Studies conducted in the area have changed world views on some pollutants and forced governments to take action.

In the 1970s, research at the ELA into lake eutrophication proved that phosphorus was the nutrient feeding explosive algae growth, a serious cause of water pollution in lakes. The findings spurred both the Canadian and American governments to improve phosphorus controls and improve water quality in the Great Lakes. Another ELA research project tracked the effects of acid rain. One small lake was experimentally acidified. The results prompted governments to implement tougher regulations controlling the release of sulphurous and other acid-forming gases. The ELA field research station on Boundary Lake is a collection of trailers, labs and cabins that can provide shelter and services for up to 50 researchers. About $4 million a year is spent on ELA research.

Research now underway delves into the effects of wetland flooding. More than 10 Canadian and American universities are involved in a study of what happens when a watershed is dammed up, simulating the creation of a hydro-electric reservoir. Preliminary findings suggest significant increases in methyl mercury and greenhouse gases are released when peat bog is flooded. A long-term study at the ELA showed increased ultraviolet light, acidification and climate warming are having a triple impact on freshwater aquatic life, from sunburn on fish to forcing organisms to live at deeper levels.

Last Modified: January 20, 2014 20:01:06. 
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