Protecting Aquatic Ecosystems
Water is arguably one of Canada’s most precious but vulnerable resources. But human activities like intensive agriculture, urbanization and natural resource exploitation all threaten our watersheds by contributing contaminants. Chemicals from these activities also interact with other stressors in the environment to affect ecosystems, limiting both their resiliency and their ability to provide the ecosystem services on which we depend.
Our current policies and risk assessments are mainly based on responses to single stressors, which limits their use in risk management. Our lack of understanding of how multiple stressors interact creates considerable uncertainty when we try to assess the environmental risks of various human activities, especially in the context of the natural variability in watersheds.
Dr. Mark Servos, Canada Research Chair in Water Quality Protection, aims to enhance the scientific basis for risk assessment and the management of emerging contaminants in the context of multiple stressors in watersheds. He and his research team are examining how contaminants affect fish and ecosystems. They are building predictive models to better understand the fate and effects of contaminants and complex mixtures (such as effluents and runoff), creating new tools to support more effective biomonitoring, and refining approaches to assessing the risk of emerging contaminants.
Ultimately, their research will give us new knowledge and tools to better identify and manage the cumulative effects of human activities across our threatened watersheds.