Queen's University

Dr. Brian Cumming

Professor, Department of Biology, School of Environmental Studies
BIOLOGY, BIOSCIENCE, CLIMATE, CLIMATE CHANGE, ECOLOGY, GLOBAL ISSUES, LIFE & PHYSICAL SCIENCES, PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY, SCIENCE, ENVIRONMENT, WATER

Autobiography

I am a Professor of Paleolimnology and Aquatic Ecology in the Department of Biology, cross-appointed to the School of Environmental Studies, at Queen's University, where I also earned my BScH and PhD in Biology. My specialization is in freshwater biology, aquatic ecosystems, lake acidification, and drought cycles. I have served as the Secretary-Treasurer and Vice-President of the Canadian Society of Limnology (SCL), and a member of the Geosciences Committee for grants evaluation for the National Scientific and Engineering Research Council. I have also authored over 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers and book chapters on topics related to the development and application of limnological and paleoecological approaches to assess environmental change. 

I am the co-director of the Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Laboratory (PEARL), which is considered to be the world's premier paleolimnology training ground. Our research is focused on the assessment of natural and human-caused environmental change. We study how ecological and environmental change occurs in lakes over decades to millennia, from both natural (e.g., climate, fires) and human-based stressors (e.g. acidic deposition, nutrient enrichment, metal deposition, etc). Our research encompasses understanding modern distributions of organisms and reconstructing past communities by exploiting the richness of the sedimentary record of lakes. Understanding how lakes have changed over time helps us effectively manage aquatic systems.

 

 

Most Recent Project

Increased relative abundance of colonial scaled chrysophytes since pre-industrial times in minimally disturbed lakes from the Experimental Lakes Area, Ontario

Cover for Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. Photo is of commercial fishing vessel. In this paper, a top–bottom paleolimnological analysis of 30 undisturbed lakes in the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) in northwest Ontario showed marked increases in the relative abundance of colonial scaled chrysophyte taxa in most lakes since pre-industrial times. The increase in abundance of colonial taxa was primarily driven by Synura sphagnicola in small, high-nutrient, and warm lakes. The colonial taxa Synura petersenii and Synura echinulata also increased in the deeper study lakes.

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