Plankton ecology laboratory

Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Québec
What the facility does

We identify plankton in various ways. In addition to microscopy, we use sophisticated instruments to facilitate swift identification of plankton communities in our lab and in situ in lakes. We establish links between the structure of communities and the structure of water columns in lakes, and the physical processes that influence these structures.

Areas of expertise

We are experts in phytoplankton and zooplankton community counting and ecology. We have general knowledge in limnology, including freshwater physics and chemistry.

Research services

Plankton identification, measurement of plankton size spectra, freshwater chemical analyses, chlorophyll analyses, measurement of plankton spatial distribution in lakes, continuous measurement of water movement in lakes

Sectors of application
  • Environmental technologies and related services
  • Fisheries and aquaculture
  • Ocean industries



Laser optical plankton counter and lab circulator

Estimation of size and biomass spectra of zooplankton communities (samples and in lakes) and spatial distribution of zooplankton in lakes.


Identification of phytoplankton and estimation of size spectra.

TD-700 fluorometer

Chlorophyll measurements.

Acoustic doppler profilers

Monitoring of water currents in lakes.

Pumps, Van Dorn bottle and zooplankton nets

Sampling of plankton in water columns.

YSI multiparameter sondes

Water column characterization.

Research mesocosms

Vessels for medium-scale plankton experiments.



Sastri, A, J, Gauthier, P Juneau, BE Beisner. 2014. Biomass and productivity responses of zooplankton communities to experimental thermocline deepening. Limnology and Oceanography, (in press).

Beisner, BE and ML Longhi. 2013. Niche overlap and diversity patterns in lake phytoplankton. Limnology and Oceanography 58:1419-1430.

Pannard, A, BE Beisner, D Bird, J Braun, D Planas, M Bormans 2011. Vertical internal modes in a small lake: potential ecological consequences for metalimnetic populations of phytoplankton. Limnology & Oceanography: Fluids and Environments, 1: 91-109.

Vogt, RJ, BE Beisner 2011. Assessing the impact of dispersal on zooplankton community structure. Journal of Plankton Research, 33: 1757-1761.

Cantin, A, BE Beisner, J Gunn, YT Prairie, J Winter 2011. Differential effects of thermocline deepening and mixing on lake plankton communities. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 68:260-276.

Lévesque, S, BE Beisner, PR Peres-Neto 2010. Meso-scale distributions of lake zooplankton reveal spatially and temporally varying trophic cascades. J. of Plankton Research 32:1369-1384.

Longhi, ML and BE Beisner 2010. Patterns of taxonomic and functional diversity in lake phytoplankton. Freshwater Biology, 55:1349-1366.

Finlay, K, BE Beisner, A Patoine, B Pinel-Alloul 2007. Regional ecosystem variability drives the relative importance of bottom-up and top-down factors of zooplankton size spectra. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 64:516-529.

Finlay, K, BE Beisner, A Barnett 2007. The use of the Laser Optical Plankton Counter to measure zooplankton size, density, and biomass in small freshwater lakes. Limnology and Oceanography: Methods, 5: 41-49.

DOI: 10.4319/lom.2007.5.41

Barnett, AJ and BE Beisner 2007. Zooplankton biodiversity and primary productivity: explanations invoking resource abundance and distribution. Ecology, 88:1675-1686.

Beisner, BE, PR Peres-Neto, E Lindström, A Barnett, ML Longhi 2006. The role of environmental and spatial processes in structuring lake communities from bacteria to fish.  Ecology, 87:2985-2991.