Measuring Dissolved Oxygen and Phosphorus on Muskrat Lake

In summer 2015, the MWC partnered with Algonquin College’s Office of Applied Research and Environmental Technician Program to assess dissolved oxygen (DO) and temperature levels in Muskrat Lake using a depth profiling approach. The purpose of the project was to provide tools in the form of maps and graphs to help describe the spatial and temporal distribution of temperature and dissolved oxygen on the lake. These tools will aid in future research relating to Muskrat Lake.

Algonquin College students on Muskrat Lake with a YSI Multi-Parameter Water Quality Sonde, an instrument capable of transmitting real-time data, including temperature, pH, conductivity, depth and dissolved oxygen, 2015.

In June and July, 48 sites were vertically profiled over a 2-day sampling period using YSI technology to log dissolved oxygen and temperature data from the bottom to the surface of the lake. In August, 27 sites were profiled in a single day. This same process was conducted in a single day time period in October and November.


Muskrat Lake is unique in that it experiences an oxygen sag in its metalimnic layer and suffers from low levels of oxygen throughout the lake, producing hypoxic (low oxygen) and anoxic (depleted of oxygen) areas. Additionally, this project revealed temperature levels and lake turnover for Muskrat Lake.

The charts illustrated here plot the temperature profiles and dissolved oxygen profiles for Muskrat Lake from June to October, 2015. “ODO” stands for Dissolved Oxygen (mg/l). These charts show a zone of reduced oxygen at the 5m-10m depths and a general decrease in oxygen as the summer progresses. High oxygen levels at the surface (Epilimnion layer) are reflective of the photosynthetic activity (plant and algal growth) happening in the upper region.

Read the final report to learn more about this project.

A fall 2014 Applied Research project included a single survey investigation of the sediments of Muskrat Lake by Algonquin College students Derek Robertson, Geoffrey Mennie, Julie Trus, & Lindsey McCourt. The following total phosphorus (TP) results are shown below and a map of the sample locations is also included (bottom left). The samples were analyzed by Exova, an accredited lab in Ottawa, Ontario, and collected using a Ponar grab sampler from a boat. Jamie Sebastien of the Muskrat Lake Association was the local partner.

Total Phosphorus measurments at six location on Muskrat Lake, 2014 (above)

Map of sample locations on Muskrat Lake, 2014 (left)

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