Human, marine mammal, and ocean health are all interconnected. Consequently, studying the health of marine mammals provides information about human and ocean health. The focus of this project is to use existing data on marine mammal disease and mortality to document land to sea disease transmission, geographic spread of disease within the marine ecosystem, and to evaluate negative human interactions with marine mammals.
The ocean is experiencing drastic declines in biodiversity due to the cumulative impact of human activities, including habitat loss, resource exploitation and fossil fuel emissions. These declines in species abundance and diversity have dire consequences for coastal communities whose economic and social systems depend upon healthy oceans. While global analyses of human impacts on marine ecosystems motivate international political action, often coastal communities struggle to make use of large- scale analyses in their decision-making.
The speed and extent of the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged our abilities, as forecasters, like never before. Early data on the disease's epidemiology is limited, records of cases and infections are incomplete, and the dynamics and scientific understanding of the disease are changing daily. Scientists from around the world have been quick to respond by developing a plethora of mathematical models to predict future COVID-19 infections and deaths. Delivering this science to decision makers in an actionable form, however, remains a challenge.
Scientists of WCS Canada have obtained funding through the Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk (CNFASAR) to conduct a collaborative project focusing on bowhead whale research in the Canadian Arctic. The proposed postdoctoral project is a main part of the CNFASAR project and aims to assess how bowhead whales react to underwater noise so that risks from human activities, particularly ship-related, can be managed effectively.
Water lentils (duckweeds) are small aquatic plants that naturally found in ponds, lakes, and streams. Water lentils have been consumed by human populations for decades, and are a plant-based and sustainable source of proteins, potassium, iron, and fatty acids. Fifty years of ecological studies on the effects of abiotic factors on plant nutrients have shown that slight tweaks in temperature, salinity, and species mixtures can significantly increase plant nutrient levels and growth rates in nature.
Bull trout in the upper Fraser watershed (UFW) of British Columbia are important top predators and serve as the basis of a recreational fishery. Anglers in the region have asked government to consider changing current fishing regulations for bull trout from catch-and-release to regulations that allow them to take a portion of their catch home. Allowing for this regulatory change would increase the types of fishing opportunities in the area but could harm bull trout populations.
The Arctic environment is changing rapidly, and this change may influence the health of organisms that live there, such as belugas. In periods of low sea ice extent, belugas in the Beaufort Sea showed altered expression genes involved in various aspects of health. Further, polychlorinated biphenyls, contaminants of concern, were also associated with altered gene expression. These results indicate that climate change and contaminants are playing a role in the health of beluga whales.
Marine fisheries are complex, multifaceted endeavors that are deeply interconnected with both the ecological and social systems within which they operate. To manage a given fishery resource effectively, practitioners have account in the past years for ecological interactions with other marine species and socio-economic interactions with commercial and subsistence harvesters.
Pacific northwestern southern resident killer whale population only encompasses 74 individuals and is considered endangered. Chinook salmon, the main food source of resident killer whales, is today disappearing from the North American western coast. Yet, it remains unclear to which extent food deprivation is affecting recovery of resident killer populations.
Nearshore marine ecosystems are undergoing change, with ecological, economical and cultural ramifications. Yet, we lack empirical understanding and observation of the nature of this change, over long periods of time and across continental coastlines. Additionally, the drivers of change in coastal systems are numerous: climatic forcing, predator recovery, and development of foreshore areas, amongst others. As such, deciphering the agents of change remains challenging.