Joshua Kurek

Assistant Professor

Joshua Kurek

Contact Information

(506) 364-2390
Avard-Dixon #305
Office hours
Open-door policy (or appt.)
Other websites


Postdoctoral Fellowship Queen's University
Ph.D. University of New Brunswick
M.Sc. University of New Brunswick
B.Sc. State University of New York at Geneseo  


GENS 1401 The Physical Environment (Fall)
GENS 2421 Weather & Climate (Winter)
GENS 3471 Limnology (Winter)
GENS 4401 Biomonitoring Methods (Fall)

Research interests

Freshwater ecosystems are sentinels of our environment. Now more than ever, lakes, rivers, and wetlands face threats from stressors such as climate change, land-use shifts, and pollutant deposition. Of fundamental importance is the recognition of the timescales of species, assemblage, and ecosystem response to stressors. My research integrates a wide-range of methods from ecology, biomonitoring, and paleolimnology to understand the effects of human activities and natural processes on freshwaters. The current focus of my research includes: 1) Understanding the cause and impacts of benthic algal blooms in salmon rivers, 2) Quantifying lake and wetland response to long-term environmental changes and legacy contaminants, and 3) Advancing knowledge on emerging environmental stressors to freshwater ecosystems of eastern Canada.  


*student trainee

Daly M*, Kurek J, Gregory-Eaves I, Patoine A. 2018. Reorganization of aquatic communities from low-nutrient lakes in northwestern New Brunswick, Canada. Journal of Paleolimnology

Armstrong Z*, Kurek J. 2018. Sensitivity and response of low-nutrient lakes to post twentieth century environmental change in New Brunswick, Canada. Journal of Paleolimnology

Wooller M, Saulnier-Talbot E, Potter B, Belmecheri S, Bigelow N, Choy K, Cwynar L, Davies K, Graham, R, Kurek J, Langdon P, Medeiros A, Rawcliffe R, Wang Y,  Williams J. 2018. A new record of Bering Land Bridge paleoecology since the Last Glacial Maximum with biogeographic implications. Proceedings of the Royal Society B RSPB-2018-0174

Summers JC*, Rühland KM, Kurek J, Smol JP. 2018. A diatom-based paleolimnological survey of environmental changes since ~1850 in 18 shallow lakes of the Athabasca Oil Sands Region, Canada. Journal of Paleolimnology

Dunnington DW*, Spooner IS, Krkošek WH, Gagnon GA, Cornett RJ, Kurek J, White CE, Misiuk B, Tymstra D. 2018. Anthropogenic activity in the Halifax region, Nova Scotia, Canada, as recorded by bulk geochemistry of lake sediments. Lake and Reservoir Management

Summers JC*, Kurek J, Rühland KM, Neville EE*, Smol JP. 2017. Assessment of multi-trophic changes in a shallow boreal lake simultaneously exposed to climate change and aerial deposition of contaminants from the Athabasca Oil Sands Region, Canada. Science of the Total Environment 592: 573-583.

Summers JC*, Kurek J, Kirk JL, Muir DCG, Wang X, Wiklund JA, Cooke CA, Evans MS, Smol JP. 2016. Recent warming, rather than industrial emissions of bioavailable nutrients, is the dominant driver of lake primary production shifts across the Athabasca Oil Sands Region. PLoS ONE 11(5): e0153987

Michelutti N, Lemmen JL, Cooke CA, Hobbs W, Wolfe AP, Kurek J, Smol JP. 2016. Assessing the effects of climate and volcanism on diatom and chironomid assemblages in an Andean lake near Quito, Ecuador. Journal of Limnology 75: 275-286.

Labaj AL*, Korosi JB, Kurek J, Jeziorski A, Keller WB, Smol JP. 2015. Response of Bosmina size structure to the acidification and recovery of lakes near Sudbury, Canada. Journal of Limnology 75: 22-29.

Mosscrop LE, Paterson AM, DeSellas AM, Kurek J, Weeber R, Smol JP. 2015. Long-term stability of cladoceran assemblages in small, shallow, Canadian Shield lakes experiencing marked calcium declines. Aquatic Sciences 77: 547-561.

Sivarajah B*, Kurek J, Rühland KM, Smol JP. 2015. Effects of Didymosphenia geminata blooms on benthic diatom assemblages in the Restigouche River Watershed, eastern Canada. Botany 93: 317-323.

Labaj AL*, Kurek J, Jeziorski A, Smol JP. 2015. Elevated metals concentrations inhibit biological recovery of Cladocera in previously-acidified boreal lakes. Freshwater Biology 60: 347-359.

Lavery JM*, Kurek J, Rühland KM, Gillis CA, Pisaric MFJ, Smol JP. 2014. Rock snot and lake mud: Exploring recent blooms of Didymosphenia geminata using information contained in lake sediments. Canadian Young Scientist Journal 3: 32-41.

Labaj AL*, Jeziorski A, Kurek J, Smol JP. 2014. Long-term trends in cladoceran assemblages related to acidification and subsequent liming of Middle Lake (Sudbury, Canada). Water, Air, & Soil Pollution 225: 1868-1877.

Lavery JM*, Kurek J, Rühland KM, Gillis CA, Pisaric MFJ, Smol JP. 2014. Exploring the environmental context of recent Didymosphenia geminata proliferation in Gaspésie, Québec, using paleolimnology. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 71(4): 616-626.

Karmakar M*, Kurek J, Haig H, Cumming BF. 2014. Consensus among multiple trophic levels during high- and low-water stands over the last two millennia in a northwest Ontario lake. Quaternary Research 81: 251-259.

Labaj AL*, Kurek J, Smol JP. 2014. Chaoborus americanus predation influences Bosmina mucro lengths in fishless lakes. Journal of Paleolimnology 51: 449-454.

Kurek J, Kirk JL, Muir DCG, Wang X, Evans MS, Smol JP. 2013. Reply to Hrudey: Tracking the extent of oil sands airborne pollution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110(30)E2749.

Labaj AL*, Kurek J, Weeber RC, Smol JP. 2013. Long-term changes in invertebrate size structure and composition in a boreal headwater lake with a known minnow introduction. Journal of Limnology 72(2): 215-226.

Korosi JB, Kurek J, Smol JP. 2013. A review on utilizing Bosmina size structure archived in lake sediments to infer historic shifts in predation regimes. Journal of Plankton Research 35(2): 444-460.

Kurek J, Kirk JL, Muir DCG, Wang X, Evans MS, Smol JP. 2013. The legacy of a half century of Athabasca oil sands development recorded by lake ecosystems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110(5): 1761-1766.

Kurek J, Lawlor L, Cumming BF, Smol JP. 2012. Long-term oxygen conditions assessed using chironomid assemblages in brook trout lakes from Nova Scotia, Canada. Lake and Reservoir Management 28(3): 177-188.

Velle G, Telford RJ, Heiri O, Kurek J, Birks HJB. 2012. Testing intra-site transfer functions: an example using chironomids and water depth. Journal of Paleolimnology 48: 545-558.

Wooller MJ, Kurek J, Gaglioti B, Cwynar LC, Bigelow N, Reuther JD, Gelvin-Reymiller C, Smol JP. 2012. An ~11,200 cal yr BP paleolimnological perspective for the archaeological findings at Quartz Lake, Alaska. Journal of Paleolimnology 48: 83-99.

Summers JC*, Rühland KM, Kurek J, Quinlan R, Paterson AM, Smol JP. 2012. Multiple stressor effects on water quality in Poplar Bay, Lake of the Woods, Canada: A midge-based assessment of hypolimnetic oxygen conditions over the last two centuries. Journal of Limnology 71: 34-44.

Kurek J, Weeber RC, Smol JP. 2011. Environment trumps predation and spatial factors in structuring cladoceran communities from Boreal Shield lakes. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 68: 1408-1419.

Kurek J, Cwynar LC, Weeber RC, Jefferies DS, Smol JP. 2010. Ecological distributions of Chaoborus species in small, shallow lakes from the Canadian Boreal Shield ecozone. Hydrobiologia 652: 207-221.

Kurek J, Korosi JB, Jeziorski A, Smol JP. 2010. Establishing reliable minimum count sizes for cladoceran subfossils sampled from lake sediments. Journal of Paleolimnology 44: 603-612.

Kurek J, Cwynar LC. 2009. The potential of site-specific and local chironomid-based inference models for reconstructing past lake levels. Journal of Paleolimnology 42: 37-50.

Kurek J, Cwynar LC. 2009. Effects of within-lake gradients on the distribution of fossil chironomids from maar lakes in western Alaska: implications for environmental reconstructions. Hydrobiologia 623: 37-52.

Kurek J, Cwynar LC, Ager TA, Abbott MB, Edwards ME. 2009. Late Quaternary paleoclimate of western Alaska inferred from chironomids and its relation to vegetation histories. Quaternary Science Reviews 28: 799-811.

Kurek J, Cwynar LC, Vermaire JC. 2009. A late Quaternary paleotemperature record from Hanging Lake, northern Yukon Territory, eastern Beringia. Quaternary Research 72: 246-257.

Barley E, Walker IR, Kurek J, Cwynar LC, Mathewes RW, Gajewski K. 2006. A northwest North American training set: distribution of freshwater midges in relation to air temperature and lake depth.  Journal of Paleolimnology 36: 295-314.  
Gajewski K, Bouchard G, Wilson SE, Kurek J, Cwynar LC. 2005. Distribution of Chironomidae head capsules in recent sediments of Canadian Arctic lakes. Hydrobiologia 549: 131-143.
Kurek J, Cwynar LC, Spear RW. 2004. The 8200 cal yr BP cooling event in eastern North America and the utility of midge analysis for Holocene temperature reconstructions. Quaternary Science Reviews 23: 627-639.


Grants, awards, & honours

Environment & Climate Change Canada with 2 others (2018-2021), Emerging concerns of microplastic pollution in the Saint John River watershed

NSERC Strategic Partnership Grant with 4 others (2017-2020), New assessment tools combining forensic paleolimnology, biotransport, and predictive modelling to determine potential impacts of mink farming in rural Nova Scotia

Canada Summer Jobs (2016, 2018), Aquatic Biomonitoring Assistant (3)

Canada Foundation for Innovation (2016-2017), Environmental Change and Aquatic Biomonitoring Laboratory

New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (2016-2017), Environmental Change and Aquatic Biomonitoring Laboratory

NSERC Discovery Grant (2015-2020), Paleoenvironmental investigation of an emerging stressor to Canadian salmon rivers

NB Environmental Trust Fund (2015-2016), Tracking environmental change in New Brunswick lakes

Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation (2012-2014), Investigating bloom triggers of the diatom Didymosphenia geminata within the Restigouche River watershed