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Project of reconstruction of trophic status of lake Nairne, Charlevoix, Quebec

Residents and municipalities surrounding many southern Quebec lakes have expressed concerns since the early 2000s following massive cyanobacterial blooms that were followed by rapid deterioration of the lake’s water quality. As a consequence, severalresearch programs have been initiated in order to provide those municipalities with an array of tools for a better management of these water bodies.In this context, the municipality of Saint-Aimé-des-Lacs, the Association pour la Protection de l’Environnement du Lac Nairne (APELN) and a partnership CIMA+/ULaval, have joined forces to conduct a paleolimnological research project at Lake Nairne. This concerted study aims at describing the past and recent evolution of Lake Nairne’s trophic state, and also to provide policy makers with tools for the development of management plans specifically designed for the lake’s watershed.

As part of this concerted study, this master’s thesis describes Lake Nairne’s historical trophic state fluctuations. Using a paleolimnological approach, fossil diatoms, geochemical analysis and photosynthetic fossil pigments have shown progressive eutrophication of the lake basin since 780 years BC and rapid deterioration of the lake’s water quality following the beginning of agricultural and industrial activities in the lake’s watershed. However, improvements in water quality were also noted since the recent slowdown of industrial operations and vegetation recolonization since 1950. These results highlight the profound impact that human settlement and activities can have on the ecological stability of Lake Nairne, but also the capacity of such aquatic ecosystems to partly recover following substantial modification of the lake’s watersheds.