Themes & Projects

Theme 1

Coupling the Landscape, Aquatic Ecosystems, Services and Environmental Change in Canada’s North

Canada’s boreal and subarctic ecozones are its most geographically extensive and resource rich, but are also the most sensitive to change driven by development and climate. The Hudson Bay Lowlands, one of the five largest wetlands in the world, located in Canada’s subarctic region encompasses arguably the most vulnerable of Canada’s freshwater ecosystems, yet is virtually unstudied. An understanding of how these vast peatland systems link with northern rivers and support aquatic ecosystem functions remains largely unknown. The Canadian subartic will experience some of the most significant increases in annual average temperature on Earth (IPCC 2007), coupled with predicted increases in winter and summer precipitation for the region, significantly altering hydrologic regimes. The role of extensive northern wetland areas in the functioning and maintenance of freshwater and coastal aquatic ecosystems and their services has gone largely unstudied. Understanding how these vast peatland-dominated landscapes contribute to AES is critical in the face of regional climate change.

Key Objectives:

To address the knowledge gaps concerning the aquatic ecosystem services of water supply and safe freshwater foods that exist in the vulnerable watersheds of this region;

Synthesize existing knowledge from a range of private, public, and First Nations sources;

Develop strategies for classifying and modelling water flows in this largely unmonitored region, as well as better understand the sources of water to streams and rivers – processes that deliver energy, nutrients, contaminants, such as mercury, to aquatic biota;

Develop, extend, and test a Reference Condition Approach assessment of aquatic species diversity and abundance to establish a baseline against which all future environmental change and development may be gauged.

PROJECTS

1.1a - A synthesis and analysis of existing hydrological, biological and chemical data for the Hudson Bay Lowlands
Pete Whittington, University of Western Ontario

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1.2a - Optical Measurements for Characterizing Dissolved Organic Matter in Northern Peatland Surface Waters
Tara Despault, University of Western Ontario

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1.2b - Hydrogeomorphic Classification Approach for the Hudson Bay Lowlands in the Attawapiskat Watershed
Brittany Germain, Nipissing University

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1.3a - Geographic Extension of Benthic Invertebrate RCA Bioassessments: How Far Can We Go?
Nicole-Marie Novodvorsky, Laurentian University

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1.3b - Lakes in the Far North of Ontario: Regional Comparisons and Contrasts
Josef MacLeod, Laurentian University

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1.3c - Biomonitoring under Changing Climate Conditions: Assessing Seasonal Variability of Benthic Macroinvertebrate Communities
Vanessa Bourne, Laurentian University

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1.4a - The impacts of climate change on the biogeochemistry of peatland pore water in the Hudson Bay Lowland
Catherine Dieleman, University of Western Ontario

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1.4b - Determining the biogeochemical and hydrological feedbacks in fen peatlands due to hydrological and treated wastewater additions
Collin McCarter, University of Waterloo

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1.4c - Linking Mining Wastewater Discharge to Methylmercury Production and Persistence in a Sub-Arctic Peatland
Lauren Twible, University of Western Ontario

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1.4d - Subsurface Flow Behavior of a Continuous Solute Release in a Sub-Arctic Bog
Nicole Balliston, University of Waterloo

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1.4e - Effects of simulated wastewater nutrient amendments on Sphagnum productivity and decomposition within a subarctic ribbed fen
Amanda Lavallee, University of Waterloo

1.5a - Potential effect of climate on the bioaccumulation of mercury in two large-bodied fish species in northern Ontario
Alexandra Sumner, Laurentian University

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1.5b - Modeling mercury (Hg) cycling and accumulation in aquatic biota across the Attawapiskat watershed; implications for subsistence fisheries and the Ring of Fire development in Ontario’s Far North
Gretchen Lescord, Laurentian University

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1.5c - The relationship between life history and tissue mercury concentration in subsistence fish of the Hudson Bay Lowlands
Rachel DeJong, University of Waterloo

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1.5d - Mercury concentrations and fatty acid compositions of subsistence fishes in coastal rivers of the Far North of Ontario
Matthew Heerschap, Laurentian University

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1.6a - Building relationships with Far North Ontario First Nations
Heidi Swanson, University of Waterloo

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