The pELAstic Project

Understanding the Fate and Effects of Microplastics in Aquatic Ecosystems

About our work

Our long-term objective is to gain a better understanding of the physical and chemical fate of microplastics, and how they impact ecosystems across all levels of biological organization, from molecules to ecosystems. To advance our understanding beyond the laboratory, we are running a series of in-lake limnocorral experiments and aim to run a whole ecosystem experiment at the International Institute for Sustainable Development Experimental lakes Area (IISD-ELA).

IISD-ELA is one of the world’s most influential freshwater research facilities. It includes a system of 58 lakes used for long-term ecological studies and manipulative whole-lake or in-lake limnocorral experiments. Over the last 50 years, ELA has provided science needs to address a range of environmental problems ranging from nutrient pollution, emerging contaminants, climate change, and fisheries. Here, we are using IISD-ELA as a platform to conduct environmentally and ecologically relevant experiments that allow us to gain a better understanding of how microplastics affect the structure and function of ecosystems. We aim to help fill key research gaps and provide critical evidence to inform policies aimed at mitigating plastic pollution.

Conducting experiments in a laboratory simplifies the questions one is able to ask. Conducting experiments in nature, allows us to better understand direct and indirect effects of microplastics.

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

John Muir

Our Timeline

Our Team

We are a team of scientists and practitioners with diverse skill-sets. Together, our expertise spans aquatic ecology, ecotoxicology, ecophysiology, environmental chemistry, applied mathematics, oceanography, policy, environmental management, and communication.

Principle Investigators

Students and Postdocs

Lianne Girard, MSc; University of Waterloo

Laura Beecraft, Postdoctoral Scholar; University of Waterloo

Raúl Lazcano, MSc; Loyola University Chicago