Program Overviews

Follow the links to learn more about individual programs at DESC...

Long-term Ecosystem Science

The Dorset monitoring programs focus on headwater lakes and streams located in south-central Ontario felt to be representative of the tens of thousands of small sensitive lakes and streams on the Canadian Shield. The monitoring of water quality and quantity, and phytoplankton and zooplankton communities began in the mid 1970's. Bio-monitoring activities have expanded since to include both benthic invertebrates and crayfish.

Partnerships in data collection and analysis include researchers from a number of government agencies, non-government organizations, and universities.  Data are used to identify long-term trends in lake and stream health with respect to recovery from acid deposition, mercury impacts, change in nutrient status, the impacts of climate change, and introduced species.

Lake Partner Program

The Lake Partner Program is a volunteer-based program that provides nutrient (total phosphorus) and water clarity information for Ontario’s inland lakes. More than 600 lakes are monitored annually by volunteers. The program began in 1996 in partnership with the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations and the Lake of the Woods District Property Owners’ Association. The program grew out of the Self Help program which had been collecting chlorophyll and water clarity information since the early 1970s. A Lake Partner summary report with the associated data is published annually on the Lake Partner web page in order to share information on the nutrient status and water clarity of Ontario lakes.

Ontario Benthos Biomonitoring Network

The Ontario Benthos Biomonitoring Network (OBBN) measures aquatic ecosystem condition in lakes, streams and wetlands using bottom-dwelling aquatic invertebrates as indicators. The program was initiated in 2003 and over 700 sites have been monitored across Ontario. The program specifies standard biomonitoring methods for Ontario, provides training and certification for its members, and allows data to be shared via web based tools. The program is guided by a technical committee comprising government, academic, and Conservation Authority representatives. All sectors are represented among the program’s members including Conservation Authorities, provincial and national parks, universities and colleges, businesses, municipalities, community groups, and citizen-scientist volunteers. These members contribute and share sampling data collected at hundreds of sites each year. Some members collaborate in scientific research that will improve our understanding of aquatic ecosystems.