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Highlighting Stephanie Melles' Research on Freshwater Salinization

Dr. Stephanie Melles collaborated on a Global Salt Initiative that investigated freshwater salinization across 16 pristine lakes in four countries: Canada, the U.S., Sweden, and Spain between 2018 and 2022. As part of this initiative, Melles tested the salt tolerance of zooplankton (e.g., Daphnia) that were collected from Lake Opeongo in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, CA. Though most countries have legislated thresholds of chloride – even at those protection levels - 50% of most Daphnia species died in treatment mesocosms. This is significant as zooplankton are considered a keystone species in freshwater ecosystems: they are both efficient algal grazers and food for fish.  

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The Global Salt Initiative was led by Dr. Shelley Arnott at Queen's University and Dr. William Hintz at University of Toledo, Ohio. The group is continuing to conduct tests on wild Daphnia populations collected from northern temperate lakes to better understand regional chloride sensitivity. Dr. Melles' grad student Brieanna Limkilde collected Daphnia from Lake Ontario and Lake Scugog to contribute to this initiative and the collaborative results are soon to be submitted and published next year (stay tuned)!