The freshwater harmful algal bloom (fHAB) situation in Canada is bewildering. The frequency and intensity of fHABs are on the rise. These fHABs are often harmful, producing noxious and toxic metabolites with potentially devastating consequences.
Cyanobacteria and chrysophytes are the primary contributors to fHABs, modifying the taste, odor and aesthetics of lake water and thus impairing the many benefits of water as a resource, including, most critically, drinking water. fHABs are linked to reports of disease and/or mortality in livestock, wildlife, domestic animals and in humans. fHABs are also having direct effects on economic activity through lost recreational opportunities and reduced property values. We need a knowledge class, where academics, governments and industries work together with trainees to develop key research questions related to factors that:
(1) lead to algal blooms in freshwaters
(2) result in shifts in bloom dynamics favouring dominance by potentially harmful species
(3) trigger the production of these metabolites
The ABATE objectives are to build a cohort of leaders in decision-making positions in the NSERC priority area of Environmental Science & Technologies that will work to reduce the occurrence and consequences of freshwater harmful algal blooms through:
(1) transdisciplinary expertise that will set the agenda for the next generation of researchers
(2) translational abilities resulting in technological innovation and improved policies and practices
(3) transformative actions by building capacity for water management for communities-at-risk
The ABATE training program will build this cohort not only by developing major advancements in scientific theory and techniques, but also by providing practical and professional skills to quantify, describe and translate knowledge on freshwater harmful algal blooms to diverse stakeholders.