How are rapid environmental changes influencing Canadian-origin Yukon River Chinook declines? - Year two

Yukon River Chinook salmon have experienced devastating declines in recent years, leading to significant impacts on Yukon First Nation citizens. To address this growing conservation issue, we have collaborated with Yukon First Nations to understand their desires for improving salmon conservation capacity, and how we can support them in this endeavour. Together, we have identified some key avenues for research: first, what is responsible for salmon declines – climate change, fishing pressure, habitat loss, too many hatchery fish, or a combination?

Evaluating the effective and equitable outcomes of coral reef conservation to meet international biodiversity goals

International momentum is building to protect 30% of the planet by 2030 under the United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which calls for “effectively and equitably managed” areas. However, key research gaps remain in how on-the-ground conservation can lead to win-wins for people and nature, where management areas are both ecologically effective for biodiversity and equitable for local communities.

How are rapid environmental changes influencing Canadian-origin Yukon River Chinook declines?

Yukon River Chinook salmon have experienced devastating declines in recent years, leading to significant impacts on Yukon First Nation citizens. To address this growing conservation issue, we have collaborated with Yukon First Nations to understand their desires for improving salmon conservation capacity, and how we can support them in this endeavour. Together, we have identified some key avenues for research: first, what is responsible for salmon declines – climate change, fishing pressure, habitat loss, too many hatchery fish, or a combination?

Seasonal Change in Roosting Ecology in the Silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans)

Silver-haired bats are common species of bat found in North America. They use cavities in trees and space under loose bark to roost, or rest and raise young. The silver-haired bat is thought to migrate south over the winter. Despite this, we have found them in parts of British Columbia during the winter, suggesting they may not migrate in these areas. Our work will help support a MSc student who will investigate how silver-haired bats are using trees in areas where they overwinter in British Columbia and compare with how they use trees in the summer.

Assessing temporal and spatial patterns of bowhead whale presence and underwater noise in the western Canadian Arctic

Understanding when and where bowhead whales occur is ecologically, culturally and politically important in the context of a rapidly changing climate, with some of the greatest impacts happening in the Arctic. Decreases in sea ice allow for increased shipping and its associated underwater noise in one of the last acoustically pristine habitats in the world. Bowheads, the only endemic Arctic mysticete and a cultural keystone species for the Inuit, are vocal, their survival depends on sound, thus vulnerable to increasing noise.

Passive acoustic monitoring as a tool to measure spatial and temporal distribution of bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) and other marine mammals in the Western Canadian Arctic

The proposed research will aim on a better understanding of both temporal and spatial distribution of marine mammals in the Western Canadian Arctic, with a main focus on bowhead whales. Compared to other marine areas, the Arctic Ocean currently shows less noise disturbance due to the presence of sea ice throughout most times of the year, however reduction in sea ice caused by climate change is likely to allow for increased underwater noise.

Assessing cumulative effects of development and climate change to inform land use planning in Yukon

The Yukon’s Northern Boreal Mountains region is under increasing pressure from human disturbance and climate change. Exploration of previously untapped natural resources is expanding in northern Canada, and northern ecosystems are thought to be more sensitive to climate stressors[1]. However, the cumulative effects of these co-occurring disturbances on wildlife populations, community structure, and habitat quality are not well understood and often only studied individually and at local scales.

Assessing and managing acoustic disturbance to bowhead whales in the Canadian Arctic

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.

Plant community responses to climate change in the northern boreal mountains

Globally, mountain regions (especially those at high latitudes) are undergoing rapid environmental change and plant communities are expected to respond by changing their locations or timing of flowering. Exactly how future plant communities in these regions will look and function is unknown but has important implications for local animals and human communities. Through this project, we will focus on understanding the response of high-latitude plant communities to ongoing warming and predict how these communities will continue to change.

A New Way Forward: Using Biocultural Approaches to Conservation in Key Biodiversity

Canada is a signatory to global conservation agreements to increase the number and coverage of protected areas in the country. Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) are a science-based planning tool that can help governments, industry, environmental groups and Indigenous Nations target the right places to protect in terms of habitat for wildlife and to ensure these areas are connected on the landscape.

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