LakePulse Survey

LakePulse Survey: 3 summers, 680 lakes

Over 3 summers, our field teams travel across Canada to sample 680 lakes to create a nationwide dataset:

  • 560 lakes selected in 9 core ecozones for a range of lake sizes and land-use impacts.
  • 40 lakes selected for their historical archives or their importance for management purposes. This will help to provide a long-term context for understanding new data.
  • 80 lakes in 4 northern ecozones to provide a north-south gradient across Canada.


Lakes sampled by end of summer 2017

Lakes sampled by end of summer 2018

Lakes sampled by end of summer 2019

The LakePulse Survey is sampling 680 lakes across Canada using standardized methods for over 100 variables, which will provide a unique data set for an unprecedented, in-depth assessment of the condition of freshwater in Canada.

Through multidisciplinary projects, LakePulse researchers and students are addressing critical questions.

The Water Portal is being developed to provide wide access to our research findings and other scientific information on lakes and watersheds.

Field teams for the summer of 2018

(see the Field team map for 2018 and our blog post: LakePulse to visit over 230 lakes in 7 provinces in the summer of 2018)

Cindy Paquette


Red Team

Alberta and Saskatchewan

Mauro de Toledo

Jihyeon Kim

Anaïs Oliva

Jonathan Beaudet


Blue Team

Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia

Rebecca Garner


Luca Romanini


François-Xavier Teysseire

Jordan Wight

Marie-Pierre Varin


Purple Team

British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba

Amir Reza Shahabinia

Bruno Cremella

Audrey Hamel-Bouchard

Maxime Fradette


Green Team

Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan

Katherine Griffiths

Vera Onana


Marieke Beaulieu

Alexandre Baud

Yellow Team lakes

Blue Team lakes

Purple Team lakes

Green Team lakes

Red Team lakes

Our 5 field teams

  • Each team is responsible for sampling about 46 lakes (around 8 weeks of field sampling).
  • This is in line with our target of 680 lakes over 3 years, which have been selected across Canada according to our sampling design.
  • Each LakePulse student is assigned to a 4-person field team; each team member is assigned a key role.
  • Students become proficient in a diverse range of limnological techniques described in the LakePulse Field Manual.
  • Each team is provided with a detailed itinerary, but team members can adjust their weekly schedule to reach their target lakes. For example, adjusting shipping days and rest days. This approach was successful in the summer of 2017 when LakePulse sampled 217 lakes in 5 provinces.

LakePulse students are making possible Canada’s first national assessment of lake health

  • LakePulse students learn how to plan and run a field campaign. Each field team is preparing a ‘field packet’ to provide relevant information for each lake.
  • Teams are contacting municipal authorities and local groups, especially to ensure lake access.
  • Each team is highly autonomous, but always in contact with our Field Coordination team based in Sherbrooke, Quebec, who provide extensive support.
  • All teams will be trained to locate alternative lakes using our lake database.

Important dates for the LakePulse Survey in 2018

June 25, 26 and 27: Three-day field training workshop at the Université de Sherbrooke, Quebec. Field teams use the LakePulse Field Manual to learn about protocols and equipment.

June 28: Field teams start driving from the Université de Sherbrooke to their first lake.

June 30 or July 1, 2 or 3: The field season begins! Field teams sample their first lake. The exact start date depends on the distance of the first lake from Sherbrooke.

August 28, 29, 30 or 31: Each team should be sampling about their 46th lake! Time to start driving back to Sherbrooke! The exact date depends on the distance of the last lake from Sherbrooke.

Field Training (June 25, 26 and 27) at the Université de Sherbrooke

Four people (P1, P2, P3 and P4) on each team:

  • P1 and P2 are in charge of morning sampling and follow-up filtrations.
  • P3 is in charge of optics.
  • P4 is in charge of sediment coring.

Three separate schedules (see tables below):

  • P1 and P2 are trained together.
  • P3 receives specific training on optics (likely with Simon Bélanger).
  • P4 receives specific training on sediment cores (likely with Marie-Pierre).
  • Some parts of the training are for all participants (see legend below).

Field Training Preliminary Schedule

P1 and P2 Lake Pulse Field Training


P3 Lake Pulse Field Training
P4 Lake Pulse Field Training

Daily schedule at each lake: Group A (P1 and P2) and Group B (P3 and P4)


Nationally-consistent water quality data

Field teams will collect samples using the same methods at all lakes so that the results can be compared across the country. Large spatial scales are needed to understand how lake functioning and biogeochemistry are affected by different stressors in various regions.

We are also collaborating closely with the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Lakes Assessment to align our sampling protocols to allow continental-scale evaluations.

The measurements include indicators for:


Water quality
Nutrients, dissolved oxygen, cyanobacteria abundance, pesticides & pharmaceuticals, etc.


Algal toxins, pathogens, etc.


Physical habitat
Lakeshore cover, light attenuation & reflectance, watershed characteristics, etc.


Algae, microscopic animals, bacteria, etc.

The information compiled in the LakePulse Database will gradually be made accessible online (starting in 2019),
so that anyone can view the results to help address local policy questions and to improve the management of aquatic resources.

Much more information will also be included in our database related to specific projects carried out by LakePulse researchers and students.

LakePulse Survey 5-year timeline

2017 – Our 1st field campaign. We sampled 217 lakes in Québec, Ontario, New Brunswick, PEI and Nova Scotia from mid-July to the end of August. Samples will be processed in the fall and winter. Data will be entered into the LakePulse Database.

2018 – Our 2nd field campaign. Field teams will visit about 232 new lakes.

2019 – Our final summer of sampling. Field teams will sample many Canadian regions that were not visited previously.

2020 & 2021 – The LakePulse researchers, partners and students will be crunching numbers to understand the health of Canadian lakes. We will extend our lake health assessments to all Canadian lakes through diverse techniques. Ultimately, our web interface will allow you to obtain information on many 1000s of lakes in Canada, but this will take several years of  hard work!