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John Gunn

John Gunn

Canada Research Chair, School of Natural Sciences
School of Natural Sciences
Science, Engineering and Architecture
LL-120, Vale Living with Lakes Centre


I am Director of the Vale Living with Lakes Centre where I run my lab, a Faculty member in the Department of Biology and the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Stressed Aquatic Systems. I worked as a senior research scientist for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources for 25 years before joining Laurentian as a CRC in 2003. I am a founding member of the Cooperative Freshwater Ecology Unit (1989), an established research group based on a partnership between the Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Natural Resources and Laurentian University.

Contact me if you are interested in finding out more about undergraduate, masters, PhD or PDF research opportunities in my group. 

Some current opportunities can be found here:


  • B.Sc. Biology Mt. Allison 1973
  • M.Sc. Zoology Univ. of Ottawa 1976
  • Doctorate Zoology Univ. of Guelph 1987

Academic Appointments

Professor in Biology, cross appointed to the School of the Environment (SOTE)

Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Stressed Aquatic Systems

Director, Vale Living with Lakes Centre, Laurentian University

On The Web


My research focuses on trying to understand the basic processes by which severely damaged lakes and stream ecosystems repair themselves, and how management actions can be improved to aid the recovery process in the face of multiple stressors (e.g. climate change, invasive species, urbanization, acidification, metal contamination). Much of our work is concentrated in the Sudbury, Ontario area, home to one of the largest mining complexes on earth, and a UN award winning land reclamation program. Here we are engaged with national and international collaborators and work closely with the large local mining companies to assess the effectiveness of massive investments in air pollution control programs and in novel land management practices, tracing through laboratory and in-situ experiments, and long term monitoring studies (30 years +), the benefits of environmental improvements to whole aquatic ecosystems through studies of water chemistry, microbes, invertebrates and fish. Recently we have also begun extensive surveys (including Hg studies) and pre-disturbance biodiversity assessment studies in the remote and pristine watersheds of the Far North of Ontario (includes Hudson Bay Lowlands). These studies are designed to provide science information to First Nation communities, government and other stakeholders, that is needed to aid in the protection of this globally significant area in the face of rapid climate changes and industrial development.


  • 2008 Latornell Pioneer Award for Conservation
  • 2000 President's Award for Conservation, American Fisheries' Society
  • Amethyst Award (international acid rain research)


BIOL4907 Fisheries Research

BIOL5056 Graduate Seminars

BIOL6056 PhD Seminars

OUPFB Coordinator for Laurentian University (


From 2011 only

• Tanentzap AJ, E Szkokan-Emilson, CM Desjardins, C Orland, K Yakimovich, R Dirszowsky, N Mykytczuk, N Basiliko and J Gunn. 2017. Bridging between litterbags and whole-ecosystem experiments: A new approach for studying lake sediments. J. Limnology. Accepted.

• Tanentzap AJ, BW Kielstra, GM Wilkinson, M Berggren, N Craig, PA del Giorgio, J Grey, JM Gunn, SE Jones, J Karlsson, CT Solomon and ML Pace. 2017. Terrestrial ecosystems support lake zooplankton: large-scale synthesis reveals catchment and within-lake controls over use of cross-ecosystem resources. Science Advances 3, e1601765

• Emilson C, D Kreutzweiser, JM Gunn and N Mykytczuk. 2017. Leaf-litter microbial communities in boreal streams linked to forest and wetland sources of dissolved organic carbon. Ecosphere 8(2) e01678.10.1002/ecs2.1678

• MacLeod J, W Keller, AM Paterson, RD Dyer and JM Gunn. 2017. Scale and watershed features determine lake chemistry patterns across physiographic regions in the far north of Ontario, Canada. J. Limnol. 76(1):211-220

• Szkokan-Emilson EJ, BW Kielstra, SE Arnott, SA Watmough, JM Gunn and AJ Tanentzap. 2017. Dry conditions disrupt terrestrial-aquatic linkages in northern catchments. Global Change Biology. 23:117-126 DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13361

• Emilson C, D Kreutzweiser, J Gunn and N Mykytczuk. 2016. Effects of land use on the structure and function of leaf litter microbial communities in Boreal streams. Freshwater Biology 61:1049-1061

• Gunn JM, BW Kielstra and E Szkokan-Emilson. 2016. Catchment liming creates recolonization opportunity for sensitive invertebrates in a smelter impacted landscape. J. of Limnology. 75(s2):50-58.

• Taylor NS, C Johnson, JA Kirwan, ND Yan, MR Viant, JM Gunn and JC McGeer. 2016. Predicting chronic copper and nickel reproductive toxicity to Daphnia pulex-pulicaria from whole-animal metabolic profiles. Env. Pollut. 212: 325-329

• Taylor NS, J Kirwan, ND Yan, MR Viant, JM Gunn and JC McGeer. 2016. Metabolomics confirms that dissolved organic carbon mitigates copper toxicity. Env. Toxicol. Chem. 35:635-644

• Volta P, ND Yan and JM Gunn. 2016. Past, present and future of the fish communities of Lake Orta (Italy), one of the world’s largest acidified lakes. J. Limnol. 75(s2):131-141

• Yan ND, J Bailey, J McGeer, M Manca, W Keller, M Celis-Salgado and JM Gunn. 2016. Arrive, survive, and thrive: essential stages in the re-colonization and recovery of zooplankton in urban lakes in Sudbury, Canada J. Limnol. 75(s2):4-14

• Persaud A, A Luek, W Keller, FC Jones, P Dillon, JM Gunn and TA Johnston. 2015. Trophic dynamics of several fish species in lakes of a climatically sensitive region, the Hudson Bay lowlands. Polar Biology 38: 651-664

• Stasko AD, TA Johnston and JM Gunn. 2015. Effects of water clarity and other environmental factors on trophic niches of two sympatric piscivores. Freshwater Biology 60: 1459-1474

• Cott, P, A Schein, B Hanna, T Johnston, D MacDonald and JM Gunn. 2015. Implications of linear developments on northern fishes. Environmental Reviews. Environmental Reviews. 23: 177-190. DOI 10.1139/er-2014-0075.

• Cott PA, A Hawkins, D Zeddies, B Martin, TA Johnston, J Reist, JM Gunn and DM Higgs. 2014. Song of the burbot: Under-ice acoustic signaling by a gadoid fish. Journal of Great Lakes Research 40: 435-440.

• Perron T, J Chételat, J Gunn, BE Beisner and M Amyot. 2014. Effects of experimental thermocline and oxycline deepening on methylmercury bioaccumulation in a Canadian shield lake. Env. Sci. Tech. 48(5):2626-34.

• Szkokan-Emilson EJ, S Watmough and JM Gunn. 2014. Wetlands as long-term sources of metals to receiving waters in mining-impacted landscapes. Environmental Pollution 192: 91-103.

• Tanentzap A, E Szkokan-Emilson, B Kielstra, M Arts, N Yan and J Gunn. 2014. Forests fuel fish growth in freshwater deltas. Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5077

• Cott PA, TA Johnston, JM Gunn and DM Higgs. 2013. Hearing sensitivity of the burbot. Trans. Am. Fish. Soc.142: 1699-1704.

• Cott PA, TA Johnston and JM Gunn. 2013. Stability in life history characteristics among burbot populations across environmental gradients. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 142: 1746-1756.

• Cott PA, TA Johnston and JM Gunn. 2013. Sexual dimorphism in an under-ice spawning fish: the burbot (Lota lota). Canadian Journal of Zoology 91: 732-740.

• Luek A, G Morgan, B Wissel, J Gunn and CW Ramcharan. 2013. Impaired littoral energy pathways cause a shift to pelagic resources by fish in recovering lake food webs. Ecology of Freshwater Fishes DOI: 10.1111/eff.12030

• Szkokan-Emilson EJ, B Kielstra, S Watmough and J Gunn. 2013. Drought-induced release of metals from peatlands in watersheds recovering from historical metal and sulphur deposition. Biogeochemistry 116:131-145

• Tang, RW-K, TA Johnston, JM Gunn, and SP Bhavsar. 2013. Temporal changes in mercury concentrations of large-bodied fishes in the boreal shield ecoregion of northern Ontario, Canada. Science of the Total Environment 444: 409-416.

• Stasko AD, JM Gunn and TA Johnston. 2012. Role of ambient light in structuring north-temperate fish communities: Potential effects of increasing dissolved organic carbon concentration with a changing climate. Envir. Rev.20(3):173-190

• Babin-Fenske JJ, TJS Merritt, JM Gunn, T Walsh and D Lesbarreres. 2012. Phylogenetic analysis of Hyalella colonization in lakes recovering from acidification and metal contamination. Can. J. Zool. 90(5): 624-629

• Davidson J. and JM Gunn. 2012. Effects of Land Cover Disturbance on Stream Invertebrate Diversity and Metal Concentrations in a Small Urban Industrial Watershed. J. of Human and Ecological Risk Assessment.18(5):1078-1095

• Cantin A, BE Beisner, JM Gunn, YT Prairie and JG Winter. 2011. Effects of thermocline deepening on lake plankton communities. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 68(2):260-276.

• Cott PA, TA Johnston and JM Gunn. 2011. Food web position of burbot relative to lake trout, northern pike, and lake whitefish in four sub-arctic boreal lakes. Journal of Applied Ichthyology. 27(s1):49-56

• Szkokan-Emilson E, B Wesolek and JM Gunn. 2011. Terrestrial organic matter as trophic subsidies that aid in the recovery of macroinvertebrates in industrially-damaged lakes. Ecological Applications. 21(6):2082-2093