At Nature PEI’s upcoming meeting, Dr. Michael van den Heuvel will discuss the decline of eelgrass in Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence estuaries. Seagrasses are salt water adapted flowering plants that are threatened by human activities around the globe. In the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, eelgrass, the native seagrass is also impacted by human activities, particularly due to increases in nutrients from land-based activities. Dr. van den Heuvel will share the findings of a study conducted in local estuaries to determine the means to monitor changes to eelgrass health. Potential factors affecting eelgrass were examined, and it was determined that nitrogen loading was the dominant factor relating to eelgrass decline.
Dr. van den Heuvel grew up in Northern Ontario and completed his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at the University of Waterloo, and a PhD at the University of Waterloo where he started his research career studying chlorinated dioxins and furans and their effect on fishes exposed to pulp and paper mill effluent. After a post-doc studying aquatic reclamation in the oil sands, Dr. van den Heuvel immigrated to New Zealand and was employed by the New Zealand Forestry Research Institute where he worked on a variety of issues including pulp and paper effluent, nutrient enrichment and eutrophication and endocrine disruption. Dr. van den Heuvel returned to Canada in 2005 for a Canada Research Chair in Watershed Ecological Integrity and for the past 14 years, Dr. van den Heuvel has worked on oil sands, pulp and paper, eutrophication, sediment effects, pesticides, fisheries, and environmental flows in Canada and PEI.
All are welcome to the Carriage House, Beaconsfield, Tuesday March 3 at 7:30 p.m. to meet Dr. van den Heuvel and learn more about eelgrass and the decline of this ecologically significant species in our local estuaries.