Exploring the Experimental Lakes Area: How Human Activity Affects Freshwater


Exploring the Experimental Lakes Area: How Human Activity Affects Freshwater

January 28 2022

The International Institute for Sustainable Development’s Experimental Lakes Area (IISD-ELA) is one of the world’s most influential freshwater research facilities. Here, 58 small lakes and their watersheds have been set aside for scientific research.

Located in a remote region of northwestern Ontario, IISD-ELA is one of the only places in the world where it is possible to conduct experiments on whole ecosystems to reveal how human activities can affect freshwater, including the impacts of oil spills, phosphorus and algal blooms, mercury pollution, plastics, and more.

By manipulating these small lakes, scientists are able to examine how all aspects of the ecosystem—from the atmosphere to fish populations—respond. This research has helped inform governments and transform environmental policies around the world.

Join us for a CPAWS webinar with Michael Paterson, Senior Research Scientist at the IISD-Experimental Lakes Area, who introduces the IISD-ELA, highlights some of their most influential experiments, and previews the newest areas of research.

Over the last 54 years, researchers at IISD-ELA have also collected a large and comprehensive data set that has been widely used to better understand long-term changes in lakes and the effects of climate change on our waterways.

About the Speaker

Michael Paterson is the Senior Research Scientist at the IISD-Experimental Lakes Area, where he has worked since 1992. He studies the effects of human activities on freshwater food webs and has led or participated in research projects on the impacts of nutrients, climate change, hydroelectric reservoirs, and contaminants such as mercury, microplastics, and organic chemicals. He has a Ph.D. from Dalhousie University and an M.Sc. from Indiana University and is an adjunct professor at the Universities of Manitoba, Trent, and Lakehead.

How Can We Help?

If you have any questions or require any additional accommodations to participate, please email us at [email protected].

About CPAWS Manitoba:

CPAWS Manitoba has been instrumental in establishing 22 new parks and protected areas in our province. That’s an area larger than Lake Winnipeg at nearly 26,000 square kilometres. Our goal is to protect half of Manitoba’s lands and waters.

Lunch and Learns

Nature has been here for us during the pandemic.

CPAWS Manitoba wants to maintain this positive connection to nature by providing a space for Manitobans to connect online from the safety of our homes and be inspired by nature in our backyards and beyond.

Join CPAWS Manitoba for weekly lunch and learn presentations from experts across the province who will share their knowledge and passion and bring new nature-inspired activities into our lives.

This program is possible thanks to the generous support of The Winnipeg Foundation and the Conservation Trust, a Manitoba Climate and Green Plan Initiative delivered by the Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation.

Help Keep Manitoba Wild


CPAWS Manitoba has helped establish 23 parks and protected areas thanks to people like you.

With your help, we can protect half our lands and waters for future generations of people and wildlife.