Biology Professors lead Fairy Lake ecology project targeting invasive species

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Two faculty members and leading experts in wetlands ecology will study ways to control invasive species and restore the health of Southampton’s beloved Fairy Lake under a new research project launched by the Nuclear Innovation Institute (NII) and the Town of Saugeen Shores.

Professor Rebecca Rooney and Professor Heidi Swanson of the Department of Biology will conduct a biological assessment of the lake’s water quality, fish, plants, and sediment. They will also explore remedial actions to control the invasive Common Carp and Curly-leaf Pondweed that are choking the lake’s natural systems.

Rebecca Rooney and Heidi Swanson

Rebeca Rooney and Heidi Swanson

The Common Carp were introduced from Europe in the 19th century, while the Curly-leaf Pondweed is of Eurasian origin and has spread across North America, with particular concentration in the Great Lakes region.

The ecological restoration project will be administered by the NII’s Environment@NII program and funded by a $25,000 donation from Bruce Power, with the remaining $30,000 split evenly between the Town of Saugeen Shores, University of Waterloo, and Mitacs to cover student stipends.

The Waterloo researchers are being brought in after previous attempts to control the invasive species proved unsuccessful. The new project may include a feasibility study into a potential restoration plan for the lake, as well as engaging the local community in caring for its long-term health.

“Invasive species and poor water conditions have plagued freshwater habitats in locations across Canada,” said NII’s Chief Innovation Officer Eric Johnston, who oversees the Environment@NII program. "The funding from Bruce Power will support research by these talented researchers out of the University of Waterloo and use Fairy Lake as an example of how we can counteract problems like invasive species that have a terrible effect on the lake’s ecology."

Learn more about other Environment@NII research projects by visiting