Paul MacKeigan

Paul MacKeigan, MSc student

Department of Biology, McGill University


I am interested in the structure and function of microbial communities of aquatic ecosystems. My current research focuses on the drivers and consequences of cyanobacteria blooms, particularly those producing cyanotoxins. I am also interested in applying paleolimnological techniques to quantify how lakes have responded to human activities.

LakePulse survey sampling 680 lakes across Canada

Summer 2018: Sampling lakes in July and August with a field team.

Summer 2017: I was mainly responsible for sediment core collection and sub-sampling with the Blue Team, 8 weeks. .

Research project: Cyanobacteria distribution and dynamics across a wide range of Canadian lakes

Reports of cyanobacteria blooms are on the rise across Canada and around the world. Blooms prompt several consequences to aquatic ecosystems including decreased water quality, lower biodiversity, and numerous health effects from the production of cyanotoxins. This project seeks to understand the drivers of cyanobacteria and their toxins across Canadian lakes. Using water column samples collected in the National LakePulse Survey we will analyze cyanobacteria species composition, cyanotoxins and their potential causes (i.e. nutrients, temperature, etc.) and assess how they vary across spatial gradients.

The specific project aims are:

  1. Identify and understand the drivers of cyanobacteria blooms and their toxins in Canadian lakes.
  2. Quantify how cyanobacteria functional groups differ across spatial gradients.
  3. Perform microcystin (cyanotoxin group) analyses to quantify its abundance and drivers across lakes.

Project start to finish dates: September 2017 to May 2019

Supervisors: Dr. Irene Gregory-Eaves and Dr. Beatrix Beisner