WaterTalk: Déjà vu or Jamais vu? Using a 20-y record to discern how coastal wetlands of eastern and northern Georgian Bay responds to climate-induced water-level disturbances.

Thursday, March 7, 2024 11:00 am - 12:00 pm EST (GMT -05:00)

Impacts of climate change include greater extremes in both air and water temperatures, precipitation, ice cover and lake levels. Over the past 2 decades, Georgian Bay has experienced an unprecedented 14 years of continuous low water levels, followed by 6 years of above-average water levels peaking in 2020; water levels are predicted to fall below historic lows by 2030.  Among the  Laurentian Great Lakes, this water-level scenario is unique to Georgian Bay and has produced novel wetland habitats and an unprecedented change in the distribution of fish in wetlands. In this talk, Dr. Chow-Fraser will share insights on how academics, cottagers, governments and first nations are collaborating to create wetland inventories, assess ecosystem health, and conduct research to protect habitat for fish and wildlife. The most important collaboration to identify wetlands that show ecological resilience to the negative impacts of climate change is yet to come.

As part of the Water Institute's WaterTalks lecture series, Dr. Patricia Chow-Fraser, Professor, Department of Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, will present: Déjà vu or Jamais vu?  Using a 20-y record to discern how coastal wetlands of eastern and northern Georgian Bay respond to climate-induced water-level disturbances.

This event is in person in DC 1302 with a lunch reception to follow in DC 1301 (The Fishbowl).

A headshot of Dr. Patricia Chow-Fraser. She is wearing a white t-shirt and is outside with greenery in the background.

About the speaker:

Dr. Chow-Fraser is a Professor in the Department of Biology, where she teaches courses in applied ecology, environmental sustainability and management of aquatic ecosystems.  She and her students conduct research on the conservation and restoration of aquatic ecosystems, primarily in the coastal zone of the Laurentian Great Lakes, using trophic-level manipulations, remote sensing and GIS techniques, radio telemetry, and environmental DNA. Students work in an interdisciplinary environment and use landscape-level approaches to assess how natural and anthropogenic disturbances affect the movement and habitat use by at-risk freshwater turtles such as Blanding’s turtles, and important sportfish including pike and muskellunge, and how human activities affect the long-term health of wetlands, streams and forest ecosystems.  Another goal of her research program is to increase the capacity for citizen science and to fully engage and empower youth in  First Nations. Since 2013, she has co-created research with various First Nations to research drinking water quality, water security, and monitoring ecosystem health in indigenous communities throughout the Great Lakes basin.