The multidisciplinary environmental research carried out in the Patterson Laboratory is primarily focused on understanding the complex relationships between lacustrine microflora and microfauna and their environment.

Environmental Earth Science research carried out in the Patterson Laboratory emphasizes the use of micropaleontological, sedimentological, and geochemical techniques to: 1) study paleoclimate records in Holocene lake, marine, and peatland environments; 2) determine the influence of climate variability on aquatic ecosystems, particularly the link between climate and lake hydroecology; 3) assess the impact of land-use change degradation on lake and coastal-marine ecosystems; and 4) evaluate the degree to which remediation efforts are successful in improving aquatic ecosystem services.

A research speciality in the Patterson Laboratory is the characterization of paleoenvironmental change through analysis of freeze cores.  Freeze cores are superior to conventional coring techniques as they preserve an undisturbed record of paleolimnological change, particularly at the critical sediment-water interface. Researchers are able to determine the rate of paleolimnological change at near annual resolution through the use of a custom-constructed freeze core microtome, developed in the Patterson Lab, which permits accurate subdivision of cores to 0.2 mm.  Researchers then typically utilize time series analysis techniques to recognize trends and cycles in the climate record, and other biostatistical methods to monitor other aspects of paleolimnological change (e.g. nutrient loading, road salt contamination, etc).  Patterson Laboratory researchers also investigate the hydroecology of modern lake systems, as accurate paleolimnological reconstructions can only be developed by comparison with present-day conditions.

The Patterson Laboratory is affiliated with the Carleton Climate and Environmental Research Group (CCERG), the Carleton Institute of Environmental Science, the Global Water Institute (GWI) and the Carleton Northern Studies Program.

Current Research Projects

Paleolimnological tools for assessing the impact of road salt contamination on eastern Canadian lakes.

Development of Itrax-XRF-Core Scanning methodologies for use on freeze cores to enable high-resolution paleoclimate reconstructions in lacustrine systems with low sedimentation rates

Lacustrine Arcellinida (Testate Lobose Amoebae) as a tool for monitoring legacy arsenic contamination in subarctic Canada: implications for environmental risk assessment

Diatom-based late Holocene climate reconstruction of Pocket Lake, Yellowknife