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Available Expert - How heatwaves are affecting lakes

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Queen’s expert, Xinyu Sun (PhD candidate, Biology) is available to speak about how heatwaves are affecting zooplankton and lake ecosystems.

As heatwaves continue to hit parts of North America and Europe, the effects of them may be felt long after the heat has dissipated. Sun’s research has found that heatwaves, although usually short in duration, can cause substantial damage to lake ecosystems. During heatwaves, organisms like zooplankton are exposed to acute heat stress, with limited or no time to acclimate or adapt to the extreme temperature. A loss of zooplankton is significant because zooplankton plays a critical role in the freshwater food web. They consume algae and are a main food source for larger invertebrates and fish in lakes.

“If there are less zooplankton in lakes due to heatwaves, we may see an increase in algae growth, which can lead to algal blooms. The increase in algae growth can reduce the quality of water, or even make the water toxic for drinking, food production, and recreational activities such as swimming. Additionally, a decline in zooplankton abundance caused by heatwaves can lead to decreases in fish abundance, impacting commercial and recreational lake fisheries,” said Sun.

To arrange an interview, please contact Media Relations Officer Victoria Klassen (Victoria.klassen@queensu.ca) at Queen’s University News and Media Services Department in Kingston, Ont., Canada.   

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