Muskoka River Watershed Node

Muskoka Lake and Rocks

The Muskoka River watershed is the largest watershed in the District Municipality of Muskoka, covering an area of 5,596  square kilometres. The project teams within this watershed node are working to design a comprehensive monitoring program and conceptual model to manage human pressures and cumulative impacts in the Muskoka River watershed. 

Watershed Description

The Muskoka River is in the heart of Ontario's cottage country and more than 2000 lakes are connected by the River and its tributaries.  The Muskoka River watershed is the largest watershed in Muskoka, measuring over 62 kilometres at its widest section and covering an area of 5,596 square kilometres. The watershed is mainly forested, with mixed hardwood and coniferous species, and is home to many species of fish and wildlife, including deer, black bear, moose, and migratory waterfowl. There are also nine provincial parks located within the Muskoka River watershed.

Challenges Related to this Watershed

The Muskoka River Watershed Monitoring and Management Consortium, also known as the Muskoka River Watershed Node, held a meeting of stakeholders to identify the issues of greatest importance in the watershed. The group identified the following issues: calcium levels, phosphorus, invasive species, climate change, acidification and development to be the most important stressors in the watershed. There are many stressors on the Muskoka River, including but not limited to land-use change, resource extraction, and species that are changing the ecosystem (beavers and invasive species). 

CWN-funded work and who is involved

Island aerial

The Muskoka River Watershed Monitoring Node is developing best practices for a collaborative monitoring program aimed at early detection of cumulative effects, as well as predictive models enabling the management of multiple stressors on both small and large scales. CWN-funded researcher, Dr. Catherine Eimers at Trent University is leading 11 unique projects in nine research areas focusing on algal blooms, nutrients, phosphorus and dissolved organic carbon, calcium levels, climate and the interacting effects of these stressors. The research involves 10 university and four government scientists across seven universities and institutions.  

The following researchers are conducting research through CWN's Muskoka River Watershed Node:

  • Dr. Julian Aherne, Tier II Canada Research Chair in Environmental Modelling, Associate Professor, Environmental and Resource Science Program, Trent University
  • Dr. John Bailey, Ministry of Environment Research Scientist, Adjunct Professor, Cooperative Freshwater Ecology Unit, Laurentian University
  • Dr. Peter Dillon, Professor, Departments of Chemistry and Environmental and Resource Science, Trent University
  • Dr. Catherine Eimers (project leader), Associate Professor, Department of Geography, Trent University
  • Dr. Joerg Grigull, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, York University
  • Dr. John Gunn, Tier I Canada Research Chair in Stressed Aquatic Systems, Professor, Department of Biology Department, Laurentian University
  • Dr. Roland Hall, Professor, Department of Biology, University of Waterloo
  • Dr. April James, Tier II Canada Research Chair in Watershed Analysis and Modeling, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Nipissing University
  • Chris Jones, Scientist, Ontario Ministry of the Environment
  • Dr. Andrew Paterson, Research Scientist, Dorset Environmental Centre, Ontario Ministry of the Environment
  • Dr. Murray Richardson, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Carleton University
  • Dr. Shaun Watmough, Associate Professor, Environmental and Resource Science Program, Trent University
  • Dr. Jennifer Winter, Research Scientist, Ontario Ministry of the Environment
  • Dr. Norman Yan, Professor, Department of Biology, York University
  • Dr. Huaxia Yao, Research Scientist, Dorset Environmental Centre, Ontario Ministry of the Environment

RESEARCH SUMMARY

Muskoka Node Report Cover ENG