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Cooperative Freshwater Ecology Unit


The Cooperative Freshwater Ecology Unit (Co-op Unit), housed within the Vale Living With Lakes Centre, was established in 1989 and is a unique and successful partnership between Laurentian University, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) with collaborators from the mining industry (Vale and Xstrata Nickel), Canadian Forest Services, Natural Resources Canada, several other universities (York, Queens, Nipissing, Norwegian University of Life Sciences) and the City of Greater Sudbury.

It was established as the first resource management co-op unit in Ontario to share resources and create closer, more effective working relationships between government, industry and universities to effectively address important, applied, environmental research questions.

From an initial focus on restoration ecology of acid and metal damaged waters of northeastern Ontario, the Co-op Unit has broadened its research to address multiple stressors that may affect the health of aquatic ecosystems throughout the north. These include climate change, invasive species, urban development, trace contaminants, loss of biodiversity and excessive exploitation. New research is focused on understanding the vulnerable ecosystems in Far North Ontario, which are under increasing pressures from resource extraction industries and climate change. Science is desperately needed in this area so that development can happen in a responsible way to benefit Aboriginal communities and all Canadians.


Research Programs


Jackie Litzgus
Director, Cooperative Freshwater Ecology Unit (CFEU), Vale Living with Lakes Centre (VLWLC)
Dr. Jane Goodall Research Fellow in Conservation Biology 
VLWLC, School of Natural Sciences (SoNS), Laurentian University

Chantal Barriault
Director, Science Communication Graduate Program
VLWLC, SoNS, Laurentian University

Peter Beckett
CFEU Senior Research Fellow in Ecosystem Restoration
VLWLC, Emeritus Faculty, SoNS, Laurentian University 

Brie Edwards
Biomonitoring Scientist
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
VLWLC Cross-appointed Faculty, SoNS, Laurentian University

John Gunn
CRC Tier 1 in Stressed Aquatic Systems
VLWLC, SoNS, Laurentian University
Former Director VLWLC, 2011-2022

Tom Johnston
Fisheries Research Scientist
Ministry of Natural Resources
VLWLC, Cross-appointed Faculty, SoNS, Laurentian University

Bill Keller
CFEU Senior Research Fellow in Northern Studies
VLWLC, Laurentian University

Nadia Mykytczuk
President and CEO MIRARCO
Executive Director, Goodman School of Mines
Environmental Microbiologist 
VLWLC, Cross-appointed Faculty, SoNS, Laurentian University

David Pearson
CFEU Senior Research Fellow in Climate Adaptation
Up North on Climate Team Lead
VLWLC, Emeritus Faculty, SoNS, Laurentian University 

Researchers Located Within Laurentian University Departments

Yves Alarie
Aquatic Insect Taxonomist
Emeritus Faculty, SoNS, Laurentian University

Nelson Belzile
Environmental Chemist
Emeritus Faculty, SoNS, Laurentian University

Charles Ramcharan
CFEU Senior Research Fellow in Freshwater Biology
Emeritus Faculty, SoNS, Laurentian University

Graeme Spiers
CFEU Senior Research Fellow in Pedology (Soil Science)
Emeritus Faculty, SoNS, Laurentian University

Researchers At Other Institutions

Shelley Arnott
Aquatic Ecologist, Adjunct Laurentian
Faculty, Dept. of Biology, Queens University, Kingston, ON

Nathan Basiliko
Environmental Microbiologist, Adjunct Laurentian
Natural Resources Management, Lakehead University

Erik Emilson
Research Scientist CFS, Cross-appointed Faculty, SoNS, Laurentian University
Great Lakes For. Res. Centre, CFS NRCAN, Sault Ste Marie, ON

April James
CRC Tier 2 Watershed Analysis and Modelling
Biology, Nipissing University, North Bay, ON

Bjorn Rosseland
Fish Physiologist and Ecotoxicologist
Emeritus Faculty, Norwegian University of Life Sci., Aas, Norway

Heidi Swanson
Aquatic Ecologist
Jarislowsky Chair in Sustainable Water Futures, Wilfrid Laurier University

Andrew Tanentzap
Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Climate Change and Northern Ecosystems
School of the Environment, Trent University
Adjunct Faculty, SoNS, Laurentian University

Norm Yan
CFEU Senior Research Fellow in Aquatic Ecology
Emeritus Faculty, Biology, York University

Co-op Unit Annual Reports

Report Date Download Link
2011 Annual Report 2011 Download PDF
2010 Annual Report 2010 Download PDF
2009 Annual Report 2009 Download PDF
2008 Annual Report 2008 Download PDF
2007 Annual Report 2007 Download PDF
2006 Annual Report 2006 Download PDF
2005 Annual Report 2005 Download PDF
2004 Annual Report 2004 Download PDF
2003 Annual Report 2003 Download PDF
2002 Annual Report 2002 Download PDF
2001 Annual Report 2001 Download PDF



Special Reports

Report Date Download Link
Far North Science Advisory Panel Report, Science for a Changing Far North 2010 Link
Aurora Trout Lakes Ecosystem Data Report 1976-2006 2008 Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
Data Report: 25 Years of Extensive Monitoring of Acidified Lakes in the Sudbury Area, 1981-2005 2006 PDF
Nordic Index Netting Manual of Instructions and Provincial Biodiversity Benchmark Values 2005 PDF
Provincial Summary of Northern Pike Life History Characteristics 2005 PDF
Practical Guide to Identifying Freshwater Crustacean Zooplankton, 2nd Edition 2004 PDF
Recovery of Acid and Metal-Damaged Lakes Near Sudbury Ontario 2004 PDF
Fish Community Assessment of Junction Creek 2004 PDF
The Past Present and Future of Sudbury’s Lakes 2002 PDF
Fall Walleye Index Netting Manual 2002 PDF
Regional Summaries of Walleye Life History Characteristics Based on Ontario’s Fall Walleye Index Netting (FWIN) Program1993-2001 2002 PDF
Nepahwin Lake Watershed: Its past, present and future 1996 PDF
Ramsey Lake: An Assessment of the Fish Community and a Review of the Fisheries Management History 1989 PDF
Chemical and Biological Status of Killarney Park Lakes 1995-1997 1989 PDF



Restoration and Recovery of an Industrial Region (Book)

Section Chapter Title Download Link
Intro Introduction Restoration and Recovery of an Industrial Region PDF
Section A Foreward History of Geology, Mineral Exploration and Environmental Damage PDF
Section A Chapter 1 Geological and Geographic Setting PDF
Section A Chapter 2 Early History of Human Activities in the Sudbury Area and Ecological Damage to Landscape PDF
Section A Chapter 3 Reading the Records Stored in Lake Sediments: A Method of Examining the History and Extent of Industrial Damage to Lakes PDF
Section B Foreward Trends in Natural Recovery and Emissions Reductions PDF
Section B Chapter 4 Declining Industrial Emissions, Improving Air Quality, and Reduced Damage to Vegetation PDF
Section B Chapter 5 Lake Water Quality Improvements and Recovering Communities PDF
Section B Chapter 6 Lichens: Sensitive Indicators of Improving Air Quality PDF
Section B Chapter 7 Natural Recovery of Vascular Plant Communities on the Industrial Barrens of the Sudbury Area PDF
Section C Foreward Goals of Restoration PDF
Section C Chapter 8 Municipal Land Restoration Program: The Regreening Process PDF
Section C Chapter 9 Revegetation of the Copper Cliff Tailings Area PDF
Section C Chapter 10 Engineered Wetlands as a Tailings Rehabilitation Strategy PDF
Section C Chapter 11 Preservation of Biodiversity: Aurora Trout PDF
Section C Chapter 12 Partnerships for Wildlife Restoration: Peregrine Falcons PDF
Section D Foreward Research Topics in Restoration Ecology PDF
Section D Chapter 13 Dynamics of Plant Communities and Soils in Revegated Ecosystems: A Sudbury Case Study PDF
Section D Colour Insert Plates 1-18 PDF
Section D Chapter 14 Lake Sediments: Sources or Sinks of Industrially Mobilized Elements? PDF
Section D Chapter 15 Liming of Sudbury Lakes: Lessons for Recovery of Aquatic Biota from Acidification PDF
Section D Chapter 16 Trends in Waterfowl Populations: Evidence of Recovery from Acidification PDF
Section D Chapter 17 Acidification and Metal Contamination: Implications for Soil Biota of Sudbury PDF
Section D Chapter 18 Birch Coppice Woodlands near the Sudbury Smelters: Dynamics of a Forest Monoculture PDF
Section D Chapter 19 Potential Role for Lowbush Blueberry in Colonizing Metal-Contaminated Ecosystems PDF
Section D Chapter 20 Urban Lakes: Integrators of Environmental Damage and Recovery PDF
Section E Foreward Planning for the Future PDF
Section E Chapter 21 Developments in Emission Control Technologies/Strategies: A Case Study PDF
Section E Chapter 22 Integrated Management and Progressive Rehabilitation of Industrial Lands PDF
Section E Chapter 23 Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems: Technologies for Mapping and Monitoring Environmental Health PDF
Section E Chapter 24 Catchment Management in the Industrial Landscape PDF
Section E Chapter 25 Planning for the Environmentally Friendly City PDF
Section E Chapter 26 From Restoration to Sustainable Ecosystems PDF
Index Index Index PDF

The Vale Living with Lakes Centre at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Canada is located in the “City of Lakes” within one of the great mining regions of the world.

The Centre is a multidisciplinary research and monitoring institute designed to assist in the protection and management of northern aquatic ecosystems.  It is a place of experimentation and innovation where top young scientists are trained.

The Centre is well equipped with state-of-the-art laboratories and workshop and conference facilities. However, its uniqueness lies in its strong culture of collaboration and science communication, building on a long history of partnerships among scientists, universities, government agencies, and industries.

Here we have the makings of a true “incubator” of new ideas and approaches for the advancement of environmental science.  Important too is the bold statement that the building itself makes – an award-winning building that demonstrates the best of energy and water saving technologies.