MSc Position in aquatic ecology – Université du Québec à Montréal

Université du Québec à Montréal

Over the past 20 years, toxic cyanobacterial blooms in lakes have increased at a worldwide scale. Previously, theses blooms were often caused by external inputs of
phosphorus from agriculture or recreational activities (fertilizers, waste water, etc.). However, we now see cyanobacterial blooms in waterbodies where these inputs have
been controlled and long ceased. In these cases, the phosphorus from these external sources has accumulated in the sediments over the years and is released into the water
column. To control this internal source of phosphorus, the Association Conservation Bassin Versant du Lac Bromont (ACBVLB) and the city of Bromont, proposed to the
Quebec Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques to apply Phoslock,a bentonite clay, to lake Bromont as an experimental treatment for the
containment of phosphorus. The Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) has been studying the efficiency of the treatment since it’s initial application in the fall of 2017.

One of the current challenges to the recovery of lakes, despite treatment, is climate change. Indeed, climate change can influence the fluxes of phosphorus from the
sediments to the lake water column. Warmer summers increase the period of stratification in lakes which leads to increased water column stability and a higher temperature in the
hypolimnion. These conditions then accelerate the consumption of oxygen creating a favorable environment for the release of phosphorus from the sediments. Another

confounding factor that can interfere with lake recovery is the increase of storms that result from climate change that increase the flow of tributaries and therefore the external
loading of phosphorus to the lake.

This Master’s project relates to the recovery of lake Bromont after the treatment of Phoslock. There are two different components to this project: 1) Determine the balance
between the external load of phosphorus from the tributaries and the internal loading form the sediments in relation to meteorological events (intensity and direction of winds,
precipitations), physical forcings (water column stability), chemical (oxygen and phosphorus concentrations) and biological parameters (cyanobacterial biomass in the
water column) and 2) Forecast future scenarios of the lake as a function of climate change and watershed nutrient inputs via numerical modelling which could prevent or reverse the
recovery of lake Bromont.

The selected candidate will collaborate in the taking, interpretation and statistical modelling of the data and to the creation of the nutrient mass balance in relation to the
climate (weather, solar radiation, temperature, precipitation, wind speed), hydrology (outflow), internal and external loads of phosphorus as well as internal processes in the
lake (thermal structure, light structure, physical forcings, spatial and temporal evolution of oxygen and phosphorus as well as the biomass and species assemblage of algae).
The goal is to determine the efficiency of the Phoslock treatment on the water quality and cyanobacterial biomass as a function of climate change. The candidate will also be invited
to participate in scientific communications with the public, who are important stakeholders in the project. This study is a collaborative research approach between universities and
the ACBVLB.

Supervision
Dolors Planas, Emeritus Professor, Dép. des Sciences Biologiques, GRIL-UQAM,
Université du Québec à Montréal.

Raoul-Marie Couture, Associate Professor, Chairholder of the Recherche Sentinelle Nord
Chair in Geochemistry of aquatic environnements, Dép. de Chimie and UMI Takuvik,
Université Laval.

Funding
A scholarship of 15 000$/year for 2 years

Admission requirements
– Corresponds to the admission criteria of the Master’s of Science program at
UQAM
– Bachelor’s degree in a related field of science (biology, chemistry,
environmental studies or physics) or in engineering (civil, environmental)
– Proficiency of reading and writing in French
– Canadian citizen, permanent resident or international student with a valid (or
renewable at beginning of project) student visa
– Knowledge of English is an advantage
The candidate is required to begin this M.Sc. project full time, at the latest May 2020.

Dossier
The applicant’s dossier must include: a letter of motivation, a CV, a transcript of their
grades from their bachelor’s degree and the names and contact information of two
referrals.

Please send the dossier as a single PDF file to planas.dolores@uqam.ca

To apply for this job email your details to planas.dolores@uqam.ca.