Obituaries usually have a sad touch and are imbued with feelings of loss and a sense of grieving. We therefore decided to devote this publication as a memorial dedication, to avoid the inevitable sense of loss and associated gloom, and instead attempt a celebration of Joe Leach’s productive life and his immense contributions to Great Lakes science.
I knew Joe for more than 40 years, from the time when he used to work for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) in Wheatley. We used to visit his lab during our trips to sample the algal blooms of Western Lake Erie.
The AEHMS celebrated his career by convening a special symposium in collaboration with Gary Sprules during the 39th International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR) conference at the University of Toronto, Canada. This symposium resulted in the publication of a book “State of Lake Erie: Past, present and future” (SOLE) (Munawar et al. (Eds.), 1999). It contained a preface by renowned scientist Jack Vallentyne (1999) and Joe’s impressive biography (Nepszy, 1999), covering his educational and research training from the University of Toronto in 1954, University of Guelph in 1956 and finally his Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen in 1969. The SOLE book also contained a well-written article by Joe on Lake Erie (Leach, 1999). We took the opportunity of organizing another celebratory party during IAGLR, 2009 in Toledo, when Joe was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement award. His later years were then engrossed in research and advisory roles on the Great Lakes, AEHMS and especially Lake Erie health.
Dr. Leach’s Great Lakes contributions include a long list of topics. His pioneering work, in collaboration with Dr. Edward Mills, Hugh MacIsaac and Gary Sprules (MacIsaac, 1991, 1992; Mills et al., 1993) investigated the threats of exotic species (Zebra Mussels) in the Great Lakes and was noteworthy in this regard (Leach, 1991; Mills et al., 1994). For additional reading on Joe’s pioneering publications on exotic species (Zebra Mussels) in the Great Lakes from 1991–1999, see Neary and Leach (1992), Wormington and Leach (1992), Martel et al. (1994), Fitzsimons et al. (1995), and MacIsaac et al. (1995; 1999). One of his papers discussing exotics in the Great Lakes was the most cited article in IAGLR (614 times). It is difficult to cover all the extensive activities in which Joe was involved, but a few are highlighted here to convey the breadth of his knowledge:
Pioneered research on exotics in the Great lakes
Organized 21st conference and president of IAGLR in 1978
Received Anderson Everett award, 1992
Received Lifetime Achievement award, 2008
Member of Great lakes Fishery Commission committees
Member of International Joint Commission committees
Linked fisheries and water quality management
Promoted an ecosystem management approach
Member of the Fishery Commission’s Board of Technical Experts on the Great Lakes
Member of several committees and boards, both scientific and community based
Advisor to AEHMS, AEHM and Ecovision World Monograph Series
Joe had amazing farsightedness in supporting ecosystem-based sciences, In fact, I owe him much gratitude for his mentoring of the Society, as well as highlighting my Great Lakes research by nominating me for various IAGLR awards.
Mark Fitzpatrick and I were lucky to have the opportunity to visit Joe at his Kingsville home for the afternoon of February 19, 2018. We met with him and his wife, Mary, and he was in great spirits, entertaining us with stories about the Great Lakes, his travel, family and friends. We spent a couple of hours in his company and enjoyed going through photographs over tea and delicious cake (Figure 1). I remember sending him these photos, for which he called to thank me. Unfortunately, my last contact with him was during a phone conversation in the summer of 2019, as he had called to congratulate me for receiving the Jack Vallentyne outreach award from IAGLR in June 2019, at their Brockport conference. His enthusiastic, congratulatory voice still echoes in my ears, loud and clear. We have indeed lost a great mentor, thinker and friend and I can honestly say, the Great Lakes will never be the same again without him.
I greatly appreciate the assistance of Drs. E. Mills, Ken Minns, John Hartig, and Mark Fitzpatrick in the preparation of this memorial dedication. Jennifer Lorimer edited the piece and prepared the attached collage of photos.
Selection of Dr. Joe Leach’s pioneering publications on exotic species (Zebra Mussels) in the Great Lakes from 1991-1999
Fitzsimons, J.D., Leach, J.H., Nepszy, S.J., Cairns, V.W., 1995. Impacts of Zebra Mussel on Walleye (Stizostedion vitreum) Reproduction in Western Lake Erie. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 52(3), 578–586.
Leach, J.H., Lewis, C.A., 1991. Fish Introductions in Canada - Provincial Views and Regulations. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 48(Supp 1), 156–161.
MacIsaac, H.J., Sprules, W.G., Leach, J.H., 1991. Ingestion of Small-Bodied Zooplankton by Zebra Mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) - Can Cannibalism on Larvae Influence Population-Dynamics. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 48(11), 2051–2060.
MacIsaac, H.J., Sprules, W.G, Johannsson, O.E., Leach, J.H., 1992. Filtering Impacts of Larval and Sessile Zebra Mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) in Western Lake Erie. Oecologia, 92(1), 30–39.
MacIsaac, H.J., Lonnee, C.J., Leach, J.H., 1995. Suppression of Microzooplankton By Zebra Mussels - Importance of Mussel Size. Freshwater Biology 34(2), 379–387.
MacIsaac, H.J., Johannsson, O.E., Ye, J., Sprules, W.G., Leach, J.H., McCorquodale, J.A., Grigorovich, I.A.. 1999. Filtering impacts of an introduced bivalve (Dreissena polymorpha) in a shallow lake: Application of a hydrodynamic model. Ecosystems 2(4), 338–350.
Martel, A, Mathieu, A.F., Findlay, C.S., Nepszy, S.J., Leach, J.H., 1994. Daily Settlement Rates of the Zebra Mussel, Dreissena polymorpha, on an Artificial Substrate Correlate with Veliger Abundance. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 51(4), 856–861.
Mills, E.L., Leach, J.H., Carlton, J.T., Secor, C.L., 1993. Exotic Species in the Great Lakes - A History of Biotic Crises and Anthropogenic Introductions. Journal of Great Lakes Research 19(1), 1–54.
Mills, E.L., Leach, J.H., Carlton, J.T., Secor, CL, 1994. Exotic Species and the Integrity of the Great-Lakes - Lessons from the Past. Bioscience 44(10), 666–676.
Neary, B.P., Leach, J.H., 1992. Mapping the Potential Spread of the Zebra Mussel (Dreissena Polymorpha) in Ontario. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 49(2), 406-415.
Wormington, A, Leach, J.H., 1992. Concentrations of Migrant Diving Ducks at Point-Pelee-National-Park, Ontario, in Response to Invasion of Zebra Mussels, Dreissena Polymorpha. Canadian Field-Naturalist 106(3), 376-380.