Use of phytoplankton diversity as an indicator of the health of lakes in southern Quebec

  • Master
  • Winter
  • With scholarship

Project description

Freshwater ecosystems, including lakes, are increasingly affected by the impacts of climate change and anthropogenic activities such as urban and agricultural development. Lakes are considered as sentinel ecosystems that collect and integrate all changes and disturbances within their watershed. It is therefore important to monitor the health of these lake ecosystems since they provide many services to the population of Quebec such as drinking water, fishing and other recreational activities. In addition to those services, these ecosystems support a wide variety of plants and animals. Microorganisms and in particular phytoplankton play a fundamental role in the functioning of lakes. These microbial communities can provide information on the health of lakes, for example, the trophic status of some lakes is changing due to climate change and anthropogenic activities, which can lead to more frequent occurrences of cyanobacterial blooms. These can in turn have harmful consequences on human and animal health.

The objective of this joint master’s project between Quebec’s Department of Environment (MELCC) and the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) is to characterize the temporal and spatial variation of the diversity of phytoplankton, including cyanobacteria, within the monitoring network of lakes and rivers in southern Quebec. In addition, the project aims to identify the environmental variables that influence the structure of this biodiversity. To this end, the project will rely on the sampling carried out as part of the governmental monitoring projects. The diversity of phytoplankton, including cyanobacteria, will be determined by both sequencing tools and microscopy to assess the potential of implementing sequencing techniques for MELCC environmental monitoring projects.

The student will have the opportunity to work in the MELCC laboratories of the Centre d’expertise en analyse environnementale du Québec (CEAEQ), and in the INRS laboratories where the candidate will pursue a Master’s degree in Water Science.

Expected starting date

January 2021

Research supervision

Jérôme Comte, professor

Vani Mohit (Centre d’expertise en analyse environnementale du Québec)

Study program

Master’s in Water Sciences (French description)


INRS offers financial support to all its students.

Desired qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in biology or microbiology or any other program relevant to the proposed research activities.
  • Experience in fieldwork and in laboratory work  will be an asset.


Eau Terre Environnement Research Centre
49, rue de la Couronne
Québec City, Québec G1K 9A9

How to apply

Interested persons can submit their application to Jérôme Comte and Vani Mohit in one PDF file by using the online form. The application must include:

  • a cover letter
  • a CV
  • copy of most recent university transcript
  • names and contact information for two referees
Project Jérôme Comte - Use of phytoplankton diversity as an indicator of the health of lakes in southern Quebec

Project title : Use of phytoplankton diversity as an indicator of the health of lakes in southern Quebec

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Jérôme Comte
Phone: 418 654-2521

Vani Mohit