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Assessing the Potential Cumulative Impacts of Land Use and Climate Change on Freshwater Fish in Northern Ontario
The subarctic boreal landscape of northern Ontario is of global importance thanks to the ecological intactness of terrestrial and freshwater systems spanning an area larger than California. This region also contains some of the largest undammed rivers remaining in the world, thousands of lakes and the largest wetland complex in North America. The region’s diverse freshwater ecosystems support at least 50 species of freshwater fish, making this home to the largest area of high fish biodiversity with low human impacts within Canada. Healthy aquatic systems in Northern Ontario are important to First Nations and these systems also offer important ecological and social services to other Ontarians including climate regulation and recreational fishing. This region is also rich in natural resource potential including minerals and extensive hydroelectric potential. This study addresses a gap in current piecemeal planning efforts and considers the cumulative impacts of new land use and climate change on four freshwater fish species: walleye, lake sturgeon, lake whitefish, and brook trout across an area of 440,000 square kilometres. We apply land use and climate change scenarios within the ALCES Online toolkit to examine the impacts of these scenarios on expert-derived models for fish sustainability.
Watching, Listening, and Learning to Understand Change - Developing a Community-Based Monitoring (CBM) Initiative in Ontario's Far North
Ontario’s Far North is one of the world’s largest most intact expanses of boreal forest and wetlands. The region has almost no industrial development today. Far from being a frontier for new mines, all-weather roads, and transmission, the region is the homeland of Cree and Ojibway Indigenous peoples. They rely on the land, freshwater, air, fish and wildlife for traditional economies and cultural and spiritual values. They are also engaged in environmental planning for new industrial development and climate change. As such, impacts of climate change and development decisions on communities and their traditional territories, must be monitored. Our report develops the rationale for the design and implementation of a community-based monitoring approach in Ontario’s Far North and looks at examples from across Canada and around the world in order to support First Nations in their roles and responsibilities in taking care of the land, water, fish, and wildlife.
Bighorn backcountry of Alberta, Protecting vulnerable wildlife and precious waters
A scientific analysis that identified a conservation gem nestled beside the two crown jewels of the Rocky Mountain national park system. The area, known as the Bighorn Backcountry, lies just east of Banff and Jasper National Parks in Alberta and represents one of the most ecologically important areas in the province’s Eastern Slopes region. Based on findings about the importance of this region to wildlife, clean water and recreation, WCS Canada is calling on the Alberta Government to designate the area as a Provincial Wildland Park in keeping with its recent commitment to conserve at least 17 percent of the province’s land base.
Potential impacts of shipping noise on marine mammals in the western Canadian Arctic
As the Arctic warms and sea ice decreases, increased shipping will lead to higher ambient noise levels in the Arctic Ocean. Arctic marine mammals are vulnerable to increased noise because they use sound to survive and likely evolved in a relatively quiet soundscape. This study models vessel noise propagation in the proposed western Canadian Arctic shipping corridor in order to examine impacts on marine mammals and marine protected areas (MPAs).
An alternative minimally invasive technique for genetic sampling of bats- Wing swabs yield species identification
Bat species are traditionally identified morphologically, but in some cases, species can be difficult to differentiate. Wing punches (biopsies) of wing or tail membranes are commonly used to collect tissue for DNA analysis, but less invasive techniques are preferable. As such, DNA acquired using buccal and wing swabs or from fecal pellets are increasingly being employed. This study compared a dry swabbing technique with the wing biopsy technique for DNA collection. They compared species identification between tissue biopsies and wing swabs collected from bats in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada, between April and November, 2014, and September and October 2015. Species identification was achieved with varying methods of field collection and lab processing. DNA was extracted, sequenced, and compared with reference sequences and field identifications.
Similarities and Differences in Barriers and Opportunities Affecting Climate Change Adaptation Action in Four North American Landscapes
Climate change presents a complex set of challenges for natural resource managers across North America. Despite recognition that climate change poses serious threats to species, ecosystems, and human communities, implementation of adaptation measures is not yet happening on a broad scale. Among different regions, a range of climate change trajectories, varying political contexts, and diverse social and ecological systems generate a myriad of factors that can affect progress on climate change adaptation implementation. This study surveyed and interviewed practitioners, decision-makers, and scientists involved in natural resource management in four different North American regions, northern Ontario (Canada), the Adirondack State Park (US), Arctic Alaska (US), and the Transboundary Rocky Mountains (US and Canada) in order to understand the general versus site-specific nature of barriers and opportunities influencing implementation.
Seasonal Patterns in Ocean Ambient Noise near Sachs Harbour, Northwest Territories
Ocean ambient noise is a crucial habitat feature for marine animals because it represents the lower threshold of their acoustically active space. Ambient noise is affected by noise from both natural sources, like wind and ice, and anthropogenic sources, such as shipping and seismic surveys. Arctic warming induced by climate change can raise noise levels by reducing sea ice coverage and increasing human activity, and these changes may negatively affect several species of marine mammals and other acoustically sensitive marine fauna. This study documents ambient noise off the west coast of Banks Island near Sachs Harbour, Northwest Territories, to provide baseline noise levels for the eastern Beaufort Sea.
First Acoustic Records of the Brazilian Free-Tailed Bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) In British Columbia
This study reports the1st evidence of the Brazilian Free-tailed Bat (Tadarida brasiliensis) in Canada. The historic distribution records of this species was in the Pacific Northwest region of North America including southern Oregon and southern Idaho, but not British Columbia. During 2014–2016 they conducted bat acoustic surveys in Canada on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, sampling 1342 detector-nights. They recorded multiple bat-call sequences during 2016 showing pulse and sequence attributes consistent with those of the Brazilian Free-tailed Bat. The Brazilian Free-tailed Bat is a fast long-distance flyer, and acoustic surveys outside of its historic range may benefit from surveillance for this species.
Wolverine habitat selection in response to anthropogenic disturbance in the western Canadian boreal forest
This study evaluated alternative hypotheses that anthropogenic disturbance can attract versus displace wolverines (Gulo gulo luscus). Radiotelemetry was used to track wolverine habitat use over three years in the boreal forests of northwestern Alberta. They used resource selection functions (used/available design) to analyze wolverine habitat selection patterns during summer and winter seasons.
Securing a Wild Future - Planning for Landscape-Scale Conservation of Yukon's Boreal Mountains
The cumulative effects of unplanned development can result in the piecemeal erosion of ecological values, with significant impacts on wildlife populations. The capacity of Yukon's Boreal Mountains to accommodate additional growth of the development footprint before ecological values and traditional economies are significantly compromised is unknown. Just a single road through a large, continuous block of intact habitat opens an area up to further resource use, wildlife exploitation, land conversion, motorised and non-motorized recreation, and continued expansion of the road network. This study examines the gaps in existing protection and opportunities and priorities for proactive landscape-scale conservation across approximately 290,000 square kilometres of the southern Yukon using the BEACON’s benchmarking modelling approach.
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