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Queen's University

John Smol - Professor

Smol.jpg Research: The research in my lab focuses on the study of the complex interactions between a lake's biota and the environment. Most of our research uses paleolimnological techniques, which allow us to reconstruct the environmental histories of lakes. Because historical reconstructions are dependent on an understanding of living algal and invertebrate communities, a variety of studies dealing with present-day lake systems are also being investigated.  A central theme is often the close linkage between aquatic and terrestrial systems.  Projects are split between studies dealing with applied aspects of environmental degradation (and recovery), and studies dealing with more theoretical subjects related to long-term successional patterns in lake systems. Ongoing projects include:

Environmental degradation and recovery in lake systems.  Paleolimnological approaches are being used increasingly in studying and resolving lake management issues.  A large number of studies are now in progress dealing with problems such as lake acidification, eutrophication, taste and odour problems, as well as other issues.

Limnology and environmental change of Arctic lakes.  Aquatic research in the Arctic is still exploratory in many respects. Our ongoing research includes the description of the present-day limnological characteristic of these poorly studied ecosystems, to studying the long-term environmental changes in Arctic lakes and ponds using paleolimnological approaches. Two major foci include climatic change and contaminant transport in these sensitive ecosystems.

Other research projects include the study of long-term environmental and climatic change in lakes from different regions, as well as using lake sediments to track past fluctuations in sockeye salmon and aquatic seabird populations. Collaborative work with archeologists allows us to also study the effects of past cultures on aquatic ecosystems.

»» Lab Website »« email: »« telephone: 613-533-6147 ««

 Some Recent Publications: 

  • Smol, J.P. 2010.  The power of the past:  Using sediments to track the effects of multiple stressors on lake ecosystems. Freshwater Biology 55 (Suppl. 1): 43-59.
  • Smol, J.P. 2009. Conservation biology and environmental change: A paleolimnological perspective. pp. 25-37, In: G. P. Dietl and K. W. Flessa (eds.), Conservation Paleobiology: Using the Past to Manage for the Future. The Paleontological Society Papers, vol. 15.
  • Axford, Y. et al. 2009. Recent changes in a remote Arctic lake are unique within the past 200,000 years. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106: 18443-18446.
  • Michelutti, N., Keatley, B.E., Brimble, S., Blais, J.M., Liu, H., Douglas, M.S.V., Mallory, M.L., and Smol, J.P.  2009. Seabird-driven shifts in Arctic pond ecosystems. Proc. Roy. Soc (Lond), Series B 276: 591-596.
  • Jeziorski, A., Yan, N.D., Paterson, A.M., DeSellas, A.M., Turner, M.A., Jeffries, D.S., Keller, W., Weeber, R.C., McNicol, R.C., Palmer, M.E., McIver, K., Arseneau, K., Ginn, B.K., Cumming, B.F., and Smol, J.P. 2008. The widespread threat of calcium decline in fresh waters. Science 322: 1374-1377.
  • Rühland, K., Paterson, A.M. and Smol, J.P. 2008. Hemispheric-scale patterns of climate-induced shifts in planktonic diatoms from North American and European lakes. Global Change Biology 14: 2740-2745.
  • Quinlan, R., Hall, R.I., Paterson, A.M., Cumming, B.F. and Smol, J.P. 2008. Long-term assessments of ecological effects of anthropogenic stressors on aquatic ecosystems from paleoecological analyses: challenges to traditional perspectives of lake management. Can. J. Fish. Aq. Sci. 65: 933-944.
  • Smol, J.P. and Douglas, M.S.V.  2007. Crossing the final ecological threshold in high Arctic ponds. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104: 12395-12397.
  • Selbie, D.T., Lewis, B.A., Smol, J.P. and Finney, B.P. 2007. Long-term population dynamics of the endangered Snake River sockeye salmon: Evidence of past influences on stock decline and impediments to recovery. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 136: 800-821.
  • Smol, J.P. and Douglas, M.S.V.  2007. From controversy to consensus: making the case for recent climatic change in the Arctic using lake sediments. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 5: 466-474.


    Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000