Aquatic Ecosystem Health efforts of the AECL team focus on assessing and monitoring habitat quality to understand and preserve aquatic resources. We integrate water chemistry, stable isotope analysis, the study of microbial communities and veterinary diagnostics to examine biogeochemical and anthropogenic processes in freshwater ecosystems and their relationship to ecosystem, human and animal health. Our studies focus on an imperiled group of freshwater bivalves, unionids (freshwater mussels) that serve as sensitive indicators of the health of aquatic communities.
A Scarce Resource: Rivers, streams and lakes contain most of the water in the world that is not frozen, essentially salt-free, and accessible to humans. Yet, only 2.5% of the world's water is fresh, while 97.5% is oceans. Furthermore, only 0.3% of this freshwater is available from rivers, lakes and reservoirs, 30% from groundwater while the rest is stored in glaciers and ice sheets.