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2012

50 record(s)
 
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    Environment and Climate Change Canada’s cause-effect monitoring is focused on understanding how boreal songbirds, including several Species at Risk, are affected by human activity in the oil sands area, particularly the impact of the physical disturbance of forested habitats from exploration, development and construction of oil sands. Determining the abundance of songbird species associated with various habitat type(s) and understanding how the type and number of birds varies with type and amount of habitat, are important components of assessing the effect of habitat disturbance. Regional-scale monitoring focuses on understanding how and why boreal songbirds, including several Species at Risk, are affected by human activity across the Peace, Athabasca and Cold Lake oil sands area. Local-scale projects focus on addressing gaps in our understanding of complex response patterns at regional scales by targeting specific habitats or development features of interest. These data contribute to: a. improving the design of monitoring programs; b. explaining observed trends in populations (why bird populations are increasing or decreasing); c. predicting population sizes within the oil sands area; and d. assessing the individual, additive and cumulative effects of oil sands and other resource development on boreal birds. Data are used by ECCC and our partners to develop new models and increase the robustness of existing models of bird responses to habitat and disturbance. Because models can be used to predict outcomes of future land management scenarios, these models can assist decision-making by helping evaluate land-use choices before impacts are directly observed.

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    Monitor variations in seabird numbers and colony size in the St. Lawrence system. Survey of over 20 species of seabirds and herons during the breeding season, in order to monitor population dynamics through time and space. Seabird populations are influenced by food abundance and quality. There is actually more than 1,000,000 birds from more than 20 different species that breed in nearly 1,000 active colonies. Plongeon du Pacifique/Pacific Loon/Gavia Pacifica, Plongeon catmarin/Red-throated Loon/Gavia stellata, Macareux moine/Atlantic Puffin/Fratercula arctica, Guillemot à miroir/Black Guillemot/Cepphus grylle, Guillemot marmette/Common Murre/Uria aalge, Guillemot de Brünnich/Thick-billed Murre/Uria lomvia, Petit Pingouin/Razorbill/Alca torda, Mouette tridactyle/Black-legged Kittiwake/Rissa tridactyla, Goéland marin/Great Black-backed Gull/Larus marinus, Goéland argenté/Herring Gull/Larus argentatus, Goéland à bec cerclé/Ring-billed Gull/Larus delawarensis, Mouette rieuse/Common Black-headed Gull/Larus ridibundus, Sterne caspienne/Caspian Tern/Sterna caspia, Sterne pierregarin/Common Tern/Sterna hirundo, Sterne arctique/ArcticTern/Sterna paradisaea, Sterne de Dougall/Roseate Tern/Sterna dougallii, Océanite cul-blanc/Leach's Storm-Petrel/Oceanodroma leucorhoa, Fou de Bassan/Northern Gannet/Morus bassanus, Grand Cormoran/Great Cormorant/Phalacrocorax carbo, Cormoran à aigrettes/Double-crested Cormorant/Phalacrocorax auritus, Eider à duvet/Common Eider/Somateria mollissima, Grand Héron/Great Blue Heron/Ardea herodias, Bihoreau gris/Black-crowned Night-Heron/Nycticorax nycticorax.

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    Waterfowl and mammals harvested and trapped at various locations in the oil sands region and in reference locations are assessed for contaminant burdens and toxicology. Wildlife samples are obtained from local hunters and trappers. Tissue samples are analysed for concentrations of oil sands-related contaminants (heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and naphthenic acids). Dead and moribund birds collected from tailing ponds are also evaluated for levels and effects of contaminants.

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    The objectives of the fish component of the integrated oil sands monitoring program are to provide the necessary data/information to address key questions related to both environmental health of fish populations and fish health issues that can be used to inform human use and consumption. The questions underlying the fish monitoring design are related to the status and health of wild fish populations in the Lower Athabasca River including and in an expanded geographical extent. Data is being collected to provide a baseline against which future changes in fish populations will be evaluated, and compared to data from historical studies to assess change over time to the current state. Data is also being collected in areas of new oil sands development, to develop baseline data for future site-specific comparisons, contribute to an expanded geographic basis of the overall monitoring plan, and contribute to an improved ability to examine cumulative effects.

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    Water quality and ecosystem health data are collected in the nearshore zone of the Great Lakes to address the problem of nuisance benthic algae. Monitoring data include physical and chemical water quality data as well as biological data, primarily from Cladophora and dreissenid mussels on the lakebed. Monitoring is conducted (i) to improve understanding of the factors impacting nearshore water quality, algae growth, and ecosystem health; (ii) to develop ecosystem health indicators for the nearshore; (iii) to provide validation and calibration data for modelling; (iv) to support the development of a binational nearshore assessment and management framework; and, (v) to measure the success of ongoing and future phosphorus reduction targets to support a healthy ecosystem.

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    Local-scale projects focus on gaps in our understanding of complex response patterns at regional scales by targeting specific habitats or development features of interest. Environment and Climate Change Canada is monitoring how and why boreal birds respond to oil sands development features using 25-hectare survey sites selected to represent a range of disturbance intensities from low to high. Sites are visited multiple times during the breeding season, from early May through early July, to count the number of individual birds within the study site. The monitoring design targets habitat and disturbance types that have limited information. Dataset 1 (2014-2015) focused on songbird response to Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) activity in peatland habitats within the Athabasca oil sands area. Peatland habitats comprise approximately 40% of the total Athabasca oil sands area, but little was known about bird response to oil sands features in this habitat type. Data comprise the number of individual birds of each species detected in each of 11 sites. In 2014, 62 species were detected within the sites, with 38 species detected on at least 3 visits. In 2015, 71 species were detected within the sites, with 39 species showing detected on at least 3 visits. Habitat disturbance features associated with SAGD activity include high-density exploratory seismic lines, winter roads, well pads, pipelines, permanent roads and industrial facilities. Dataset 2 (2016) focused on songbird response to conventional oil and gas disturbance in upland regenerating habitats within the Peace River oil sands area. Regenerating deciduous habitat (20-40 years old) was selected to address a habitat gap in knowledge of avian response to oil sands features. Data comprise the number of individual birds of each species detected in each of nine sites. 85 species were detected within the survey girds, with 42 species detected on at least 3 visits. Habitat disturbance features associated with conventional oil and gas include seismic lines, pipelines, powerlines, well sites and gravel roads. Dataset 3 (2017) focused on songbird response to SAGD oil sands disturbance in upland regenerating habitats within the Athabasca oil sands area. Regenerating deciduous habitat (10-20 years old) was selected to address a habitat gap in knowledge of avian response to oil sands features. Data comprise the number of individual birds of each species detected in each of 12 sites. 71 species were detected within the survey girds, with 51 species detected on at least 3 visits. Habitat disturbance features associated with SAGD development include seismic lines, pipelines, powerlines, well sites, winter roads and gravel roads.

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    Metals in Mallards (pooled 2013 collections) Adult male mallards were collected in 2013 in the area surrounding five Alberta communities south of the Athabasca oil sands industrial region (Mayerthorpe, Barrhead, Lac La Biche, St. Paul and Vermilion) and from two communities north of the development area (Fort Chipewyan, Alberta and Fort Resolution, NWT). Liver samples from the mallards were analysed for chemicals of concern. While metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were often present in the livers of mallards, no obvious spatial patterns were detected. The observed concentrations are not likely posing a risk to these mallard populations. PAHs and Metals in Mammals (from fisher, American marten, and lynx - pooled 2013 collections) Adult male fishers, American marten, and lynx carcases were collected by hunters and trappers in 2013 in areas adjacent to oil sands operations, and reference areas outside of the oil sands deposits; the latter areas were located along a transect north of Edmonton, Alberta. Liver samples from these mammals were analyzed for chemicals of concern. No obvious spatial patterns in the chemicals observed in the liver samples were revealed. The analyses did reveal that lower molecular weight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were often present at higher concentrations in the livers compared to higher molecular weight PAHs. Lower molecular weight compound PAHs are typically of petrogenic origin, however, it is unclear whether these particular PAHs detected in wildlife liver samples are attributed to anthropogenic or natural sources. In comparison to reference areas, nickel was detected at higher concentrations in livers of animals from the oil sands region. The observed concentrations of the chemicals analyzed are not likely posing a risk to these mammal populations.

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    Assessing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon and naphthenic acid concentrations in soils collected in 2012 – Field and Laboratory Assessment of Contaminants The concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and naphthenic acids (NAs) were measured in soil samples collected in 2012. Concentrations at all sites were, with one exception, always below soil quality guidelines established by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME). PAH concentrations in soil at sites near oil sands industrial development were higher than PAH concentrations in northwestern Saskatchewan. This finding was not unexpected given that PAHs are present in naturally occurring Alberta bitumen. Analysis of the data revealed that only one of the PAH compounds – naphthalene – exceeded the CCME guideline level, by approximately 60%, at a site located on the western edge of the townsite of Fort McMurray. NA concentrations were similar across all sites, again with the exception of the site near Fort McMurray which had slightly elevated concentrations compared to the other sites. Results revealed that PAHs and NAs could be detected in the soil samples collected. CCME soil quality guidelines do not currently exist for NAs. It is our expert opinion that the observed concentrations of these contaminants are not likely posing a contamination risk to wildlife populations in the region.

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    The Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) program provides data and information to track Canada's performance on key environmental sustainability issues. The Trends in Canada's bird populations indicator reports population trends of Canada's native bird species from 1970 to 2016. Bird species are categorized into species groups based on their feeding or habitat requirements. Because birds are sensitive to environmental changes, they can be used as an indicator of ecosystem health and the state of biodiversity. Since most bird species are also easily detected and observed, many long-term monitoring programs exist; they provide data on population change dating back to the 1970s (or, in some cases, even earlier). Tracking the status of Canada's birds can help to identify the impacts of these changes, and can also help to set priorities, evaluate management actions and track the recovery of species at risk. Information is provided to Canadians in a number of formats including: static and interactive maps, charts and graphs, HTML and CSV data tables and downloadable reports. See the supplementary documentation for data sources and details on how those data were collected and how the indicator was calculated.

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    Water chemistry, 26 different metals, and polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs) were measured at 21 wetland sites where studies of amphibian health are being conducted. The water chemistry measurements (pH, conductivity, total dissolved solids, etc.) are used to further assess water quality, characterize the wetlands studied, and allow for comparisons among the different types of boreal wetlands being monitored. The data show low concentrations of metals, with many of the individual metals at undetectable levels. Two water quality samples, one from 2011 (with an arsenic concentration of 8.27 µg/L) and one from 2012 (arsenic at 6.47 µg/L) from Galoot Lake, located in the Peace-Athabasca Delta, exceeded the guideline for arsenic established for the protection of aquatic life by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (5.0 µg/L; CCME). However, samples collected from this same location in 2013 (1.29 and 0.78 µg/L) and 2014 (2.21 µg/L) were below the CCME guideline. Passive sampling techniques, such as the deployment of semipermeable membrane devices (SPMDs), are being used in this monitoring program to monitor PACs in boreal wetlands. The highest concentrations of PACs were detected in SPMDs deployed within a 25 km radius of surface mining activity, consistent with the pattern revealed by snow deposition studies of PACs in the region. Field investigations continue to evaluate the health of wild amphibian populations at varying distance from oil sands operations.