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. 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. This project will investigate cumulative effects of human stressors (resource use, climate change) on (1) avian density, diversity, and community composition, and (2) on water quality in critical salmon spawning habitats at a regional scale. We define stressors as all human-induced activities and cumulative effects as the combined effects of multiple individual stressors on species or ecosystems over time and/or space. This work will identify how resource and climate stressors combine to influence ecosystem function. Results from this project will be used to inform conservation targets built around ecological thresholds for maintaining healthy wildlife populations and ecosystems. Recommendations resulting from this project will play a critical role in guiding sustainable development and habitat conservation, informing land use planning in the Yukon and other northern boreal ecosystems throughout Canada.