Designing Climate and Water Smart Wetland Restoration Scenarios for Canada’s Agricultural Landscapes

The goal of the research project is to evaluate the potential of wetland restoration as a tool for improving water quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Project partner Ducks Unlimited Canada’s Institute for Wetland and Waterfowl Research (DUCs IWWR) has been collecting water quality and greenhouse gas data in wetlands in Ontario and the prairies, which are both regions with intensive agriculture and extensive wetland loss.

Using VHF telemetry to inform nest-site-selection of western painted turtle (Chrysemys picta bellii) in the Kootenay region of British Columbia

The purpose of this project is to study the behaviour of western painted turtles during the nesting season. These species are currently in decline in British Columbia due to urbanization and a loss of nesting habitat. In recent years, the construction of man-made nesting beaches has been widely used in an effort to help this species.

Sub-habitat use by fish in restoring and established salt marshes in mega- and microtidal regimes

Salt marshes are coastal wetlands that provide many ecosystem services. Many fish species are known to use salt marshes as habitat at some point throughout their lives including those that hold commercial and recreational value. Depending on their location, salt marshes may experience varying degrees of tidal flooding, not only making more areas of the marsh accessible to fish but resulting in excess particulate and dissolved organic matter being drawn out with the ebbing tide.

Biotic communities in restoring salt marshes

Salt marshes are important coastal ecosystems that provide many services. Due to their high soil fertility, they have a long history of being converted to farmland. There is now growing interest in restoring salt marshes to protect against coastal erosion, mitigate sea level rise, and provide increased habitat for fish, birds, etc. Ducks Unlimited Canada and partners initiated 5 salt marsh restoration projects between 2010–2020, in the Bay of Fundy and southern Gulf of St.

Understanding juvenile salmon passage at newly created breaches in two major barriers in the Fraser River estuary, BC.

Estuaries are crucial stopover areas for juvenile salmon during outmigration and especially for Chinook salmon who can reside in this habitat for over a month. Many populations of Chinook salmon from the Pacific Northwest are threatened and endangered making conservation important for this species. Currently, managers are investing significant public funds in estuary restoration and understanding the effectiveness of these investments is crucial to recovery of many salmon populations.

Tools for monitoring the establishment and impacts of two biological control agents on introduced Phragmites australis in Ontario

Introduced Phragmites australis (common reed) is one of the most invasive plants in North America. The weed reduces native plant and animal diversity, disrupts ecosystem processes, and poses a threat to the native North American subspecies of common reed, P. australis ssp. americanus. Conventional methods for controlling introduced P. australis such as herbicides, cutting, and burning are prohibitively expensive, harmful to non-target species, and have seen little success.

Mapping the supply of pest control and pollination ecosystem services in Alberta croplands using joint species distribution modelling

Arthropods such as bees, beetles and spiders provide ecosystem services to crops in Alberta. This nature’s contribution to people has economic value to farmers. The arthropods can control crop pests, pollinate crops, and help to improve the overall health and quality of the crop. These natural services are freely available to farmers. However, to take advantage of them, changes to land in the vicinity of crop fields may be necessary.

Developing species-habitat conservation models for priority, wetland-dependent birds in Eastern Canada

Wetland-dependent birds, notably waterfowl, are prominent features of the conservation landscape in Eastern Canada, Ducks and geese in particular denote seasonality through their spectacular migrations, are key harvested species in many regions, and are often visible to connect the public with the sense of “wild”. However, populations of most of these species in Eastern Canada remain below targets set under the North American Waterfowl Conservation Plan, which may be due in part to threats or changes to breeding habitats.

Mitigating goose herbivory at Westham Island tidal marsh.

Tidal marshes are essential ecosystems both economically and ecologically. They provide many natural resources, such as filtering pollutants from water and providing flood protection. However, since the 1980s, we have lost about 80% of the world’s wetlands including many tidal marshes. This internship aims to identify the role of goose herbivory on marsh vegetation as well as to identify the best way to mitigate impacts of goose herbivory on marsh vegetation.

A new tool for managing introduced Phragmites australis in Ontario: assessing invasion impacts and implementing biological control - Year two

Introduced Phragmites australis (common reed) is one of the most invasive plants in North America. Existing management is costly, can negatively affect other species, and is often only effective for small infestations. Classical biological control (i.e., introducing herbivores from the weed’s native range) is a promising tool for P. australis management that can contribute to a broader program of integrated pest management (IPM). Our goal is to partner with Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) to implement biological control of introduced P. australis in southern Ontario.