Aquatic Ecosystems Research Gets Funding Boost

February 14, 2013 - News Release

A University of Guelph professor is part of a new national network intended to help protect Canada’s wetlands, lakes and rivers.

Paul Sibley, a professor and associate director of graduate studies in the School of Environmental Sciences, belongs to the Canadian Network for Aquatic Ecosystem Services (CNAES), which just received $4.4 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). Partner organizations will provide an additional $4.3 million.

Sibley is among 27 researchers from 11 universities in the network, which will address research issues in large northern wetlands, connections between healthy forests and healthy rivers, and lake ecosystems in Canada. Members include experts in remote sensing, biogeochemistry, fish ecology, modelling and hydrology.

Based at the University of Toronto, CNAES also includes federal government scientists, industrial partners, and environmental and technology associations that conduct research and training in aquatic ecosystems.

Canada's aquatic ecosystems are tremendously varied,” Sibley said. The network will take a watershed-based approach and focus on understudied systems such as northern wetlands and the boreal forest - areas targeted for increased resource development - to identify and address knowledge gaps in understanding of the types and range of ecosystems services they provide, he said.

“A key goal is to determine how the properties of ecosystem services associated with these systems vary in space and time, and to use this information as a basis for developing appropriate policy aimed at protecting those services," Sibley said.

The new knowledge will help government, industry and other stakeholders make informed decisions about development and environmental protection, said Don Jackson, CNAES director and an aquatic ecologist and interim director at U of T’s School of the Environment.

"Canada is subject to significant global environmental stressors as well as pressures to develop its natural resources,” Jackson said.

"We look forward to addressing the challenges facing Canada and the international community in generating the science to inform policy development, and to training the next generation of leaders in this field.”

The funding comes from NSERC’s Strategic Network Grants program for large-scale, multidisciplinary, collaborative research projects intended to improve Canada’s economy, society and environment.

Other universities in the network are the University of British Columbia, Laurentian University, McGill University, University of New Brunswick, Nipissing University, Université du Québec à Montréal, University of Toronto, Trent University, University of Waterloo and Western University.

Partner organizations include Alberta Innovates Technology Futures, DeBeers Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Kongsberg Maritime, Le ministère des ressources naturelles et de la faune du Québec, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Ontario Ministry of the Environment and NRCan – Canadian Forest Services and Parks Canada.

Prof. Paul Sibley
School of Environmental Sciences
519 824-4120, Ext.52707 or 53926

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or; or Kevin Gonsalves, Ext. 56982, or

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1