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Establishing sustainable harvesting intensities in the Muskoka River Watershed to sustain critical Calcium levels

Shaun Watmough (PI/Trent University)
Julian Aherne (co-PI/Trent University)
Carolyn Reid (MSc/Trent University)


Calcium is an important nutrient for plants and animals, but over the last two decades calcium concentrations in the Muskoka River Watershed lakes have decreased and are approaching potentially damaging levels. Much of the decrease in calcium can be attributed to a reduction in acid deposition and a decrease in sulphate entering streams and lakes. However, trees have a high demand for calcium and in places where trees are harvested the calcium that is taken away in wood, bark and branches will ultimately lead to less calcium that can be leached into lakes, thereby causing calcium levels in lakes to fall even further.

The objectives of this research project are:

  1. To enhance our understanding of calcium cycling in forests and ask the question 'why is calcium of most concern'?
  2. To utilize data from harvested sites to model the impact of harvesting on calcium levels in soils and streams, and
  3. To generate a forest harvest database and associated calcium removal levels that can be applied to the Muskoka River Watershed to predict the impact of harvesting on future lake calcium levels.


These three projects will form the basis of Carolyn Reid's MSc thesis that will be conducted in the Environmental and Life Sciences Graduate Program at Trent University.


Update - November 2013

The databases have been compiled and assessment of the potential impacts of timber harvesting on lake calcium levels in the Muskoka River Watershed is underway.