Orillia Campus Researchers investigate Lake Simcoe Health

(July 30, 2009 - Orillia, ON) This fall, three Orillia campus researchers and one Thunder Bay campus researcher will be funded $165,000 over the next two years by Environment Canada and its Lake Simcoe Clean-Up Fund (LSCUF) to study the role of wetlands as a nutrient buffer.

Dr. Nandakumar Kanavillil, principal project investigator (Interdisciplinary Studies/Biology, Orillia campus), with co-investigators Dr. Sreekumari Kurissery (Interdisciplinary Studies/Biology, Orillia campus), Dr. Mary Thornbush (Interdisciplinary Studies/Geography, Orillia campus) and Dr. Peter Lee (Biology, Thunder Bay campus) will focus their study on Mill Creek and Victoria Point wetlands in Orillia, Ontario. These areas will be extensively sampled to monitor their roles in the reduction of nutrient influx into the northwestern part of Lake Simcoe, focusing particularly on total phosphorus and phosphates. The study will involve the collection and analysis of both water and sediment samples, in addition to plant and invertebrate species from different localities of these wetlands for a period of two years starting from this fall. In selected areas of the wetlands, wild rice seeding experiments will be carried out to test their growth-induced nutrient reduction in the water column and sediment. The proposed study is therefore expected to result in the evaluation of: (a) the existing wetlands as nutrient buffer zones, and (b) the ability of wild rice plants to reduce nutrient concentration in the water, thus reducing their release into Mill Creek and the Lake Simcoe.

Dr. Nanda Kanavillil notes that "this is an excellent opportunity for the faculty in Orillia campus to shoulder the responsibility of protecting Lake Simcoe and its watershed by minimizing the phosphorus pollution. This being the first major environmental research funding received at Orillia campus, we are all very happy and excited to go out and start working."

The Lake Simcoe Clean-Up Fund was established to provide financial and technical support toward projects that will improve the water quality of Lake Simcoe. The Fund achieves this goal by supporting the implementation of high-impact, priority projects. These include projects aimed at reducing phosphorus inputs, rehabilitating habitats to achieve nutrient reductions, restoring the cold-water fishery in Lake Simcoe, and enhancing research and monitoring capacities deemed essential for the restoration of Lake Simcoe and its watershed. The Fund also supports studies that help clarify the current conditions of and help track improvements in the water and environmental health of Lake Simcoe.

For more information about the Lake Simcoe Clean-Up Fund, please visit the Environment Canada website at: http://www.ec.gc.ca/paae-apcw/default.asp?lang=En&n=85C54DAE-1

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Media Interviews: Dr. Nandakumar (Nanda) Kanavillil will be available for interviews July 31, 2009 from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. and on August 4, 2009 from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. He may be contacted directly at (705) 330-4038.

About Lakehead
Lakehead is a comprehensive university with a reputation for innovative programs and cutting-edge research. With a main campus located in Thunder Bay, Ontario and a campus in Orillia, Ontario, Lakehead has over 7,900 students and 2,250 faculty and staff, and is home to the west campus of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. In 2006, Research Infosource Inc. named Lakehead University Canada's Research University of the Year in the undergraduate category. For more information on Lakehead University, visit http://www.lakeheadu.ca/

Last updated July 31, 2009

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