New ways to assess the quality of Canada’s water and the health of native aquatic wildlife
When Dr. Markus Hecker was growing up on the banks of the heavily industrialized Rhine River in Germany, he witnessed the impact that anthropogenic activities such as pollution and habitat alteration can have on water bodies.
That experience led Hecker, Canada Research Chair in Predictive Aquatic Ecotoxicology, to a lifetime mission to shed light on the damage environmental stressors can cause to aquatic life.
Hecker is working to find better ways to determine how pollution from human activities, climate change, and other factors affect water quality and aquatic species in western and northern Canadian watersheds.
He is fusing advanced and traditional tools to find new approaches and strategies to predict the effects of anthropogenic and natural stressors earlier and with greater precision.
He is focusing on indicator species—in this case, ecologically important native fish—whose health reflect the health of the ecosystems in which they live. In fact, little is known about how vulnerable such indicator species are to stressors such as contaminants, changes in temperature regime or habitat alteration, and how they can affect key biological functions essential for reproduction, growth and survival.
Hecker’s research promises to reduce uncertainties associated with current approaches in environmental risk assessment and provide critical information to help protect our vital water resources. Doing so will provide the scientific community, governments, and industry with solutions to aid in the sustainable management of the environment and its resources.