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May / June 2009

May / June 2009

 

Science Notes

Environment Canada Launches Exciting New Scientist Profile System

Promoting Integrated Monitoring and Research in the Great Lakes

  • Satellite image of the Great Lakes | Credit: Environment CanadaDisruption of natural food webs as a result of human activities is becoming a commonplace occurrence. Ecological tracers that provide insights into the movement of energy, nutrients and contaminants through food webs are needed to provide the knowledge to effectively and efficiently restore and maintain the integrity (chemical and biological) of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem. A consortium of scientists from Environment Canada (EC), the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (OME), the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR), and academia (University of Windsor, Queens University, Trent University) is actively promoting multimedia integrated science related to ecological tracers in monitoring and research within the Great Lakes basin. Currently, the following people are involved:  Dr. Michael Arts (EC), Dr. Satyendra Bhavsar (OME), Dr. Ken Drouillard (Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research [GLIER]-Windsor), Dr. Aaron Fisk (GLIER-Windsor), Dr. Craig Hebert (EC), Dr. Tim Johnson (OMNR), Dr. Marten Koops (DFO), Dr. Gord Paterson (Trent), Dr. Linda Campbell (Queens), Sean Backus (EC) and Daryl McGoldrick (EC).

Acid Rain in Western Canada – New Data

  • The Acid Rain Task Group of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME-ARTG) partnered recently with two multi-stakeholder groups from Alberta (the Terrestrial Environmental Effects Monitoring Committee and the NOx-SOx Management Working Group) to examine sulphur and nitrogen deposition issues in western Canada.  Dr. Dean Jeffries reported on results from surveys demonstrating that many of the western Canada data sets available for evaluation in the 2004 Acid Deposition Science Assessment were biased towards insensitive lake ecosystems. New data from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia have an extremely acid sensitive component that is often downwind of significant S and N emission sources.

Environment Canada Hosts Training Session for CALA Assessors

  • Atlantic Laboratory for Environmental TestingThe Atlantic Laboratory for Environmental Testing (ALET) in Moncton, NB, hosted a 2-day training session for Canadian Association for Laboratory Accreditation (CALA) assessors from across Canada to bring them up-to-date on the latest changes in toxicology test methods and statistical analysis.  The session consisted of a series of talks, as well as discussion of issues raised by the assessors on a wide variety of topics.  Results of discussions will be communicated to CALA for action.  Lab demonstrations were given for the new echinoderm embryo sediment toxicity test and for the three procedures used in pH maintenance for the rainbow trout toxicity test for municipal wastewaters. Feedback from participants was very positive.

  • For more inforation, contact Ken Doe (506-851-3486), Emergencies, Operational Analytical Laboratories and Research Support

Peace-Athabasca Delta Ecological Monitoring Program Workshop

  • In Fort Smith, Northwest Territories (June 16-18, 2009), First Nations, provincial, territorial, and federal government departments and invited guests participated in the Peace-Athabasca Delta Ecological Monitoring Program (PAD-EMP) Workshop organized by Parks Canada staff from Wood Buffalo National Park to continue the process of developing a comprehensive, jointly funded, long-term monitoring program for the Peace-Athabasca Delta. The goals of this program are to co-produce knowledge using traditional ecological knowledge and western science "systems of knowing," and to use that knowledge to inform policy and regulation to sustain and protect the Delta and the heritage of indigenous peoples. David Donald gave well-received presentations on the Northern Rivers Ecosystem Initiative, Wood Buffalo National Park water quality monitoring, and Ecological Indicators/State of the Aquatic Environment in the PAD (2002). Dorothy Lindeman provided valuable contributions to discussions on future efforts.  Discussions are underway regarding participation on the PAD-EMP steering and technical committees and briefings to the Superintendent and staff of Parks Canada.

Science Solutions for Improved Pulp and Paper Mill Effluents

  • Ontario based kraft pulp & paper mill | Photo: M. HewittRegulations implemented in 1992 have led to significant improvements in the downstream impacts of pulp mills across Canada. In spite of improvements and ongoing efforts to comply by the pulp and paper industry, monitoring carried out under the Environmental Effects Monitoring (EEM) Program has identified continuing negative impacts on fish and benthic communities. Drs. Mark Hewitt, Mark McMaster and Joanne Parrott are partnering with other leading researchers in the field from FPInnovations-Paprican, the University of Guelph, the University of Prince Edward Island, and Wilfrid Laurier University to identify the cause and solutions for fish reproductive impairment. The Canadian EEM Program is unprecedented in the world for its magnitude and mandatory requirements, and it provides the mechanism to bring researchers and decision makers together to solve complex, real-world problems. Science Solutions for Improved Pulp and Paper Mill Effluents, written by Mark Hewitt and Michael Forbes, has been published recently as part of Science and Technology into Action to Benefit Canadians, a research impact study series that pinpoints where EC’s S&T has informed decision making and yielded tangible environmental, social and economic benefits.

Environment Canada and La Mauricie National Park – Sharing Water Quality Data

  • Environment Canada has signed a memorandum of understanding with La Mauricie National Park to install and operate a water quality reference station at a site with little or no impact by pollution and human activities, and to share resulting data. This station will be equipped with an auto-sampler and multisensor probes to monitor the physicochemical parameters of Rivière à la Pêche. Spot samples will be taken twice a month during the flood period and subsequently on a monthly basis. The analyses include pesticides, heavy metals, mercury and interpretative parameters. Results will support interpretation of water quality in the context of monitoring or surveillance projects, such as the Toxics Management Plan, the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN), or the Clean Air Regulatory Agenda Mercury Science Program (CARA-Hg).

  • For more information, contact Louis-Filip Richard (514-496-6236) or Alain Armellin (514-283-3253), Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance

Niagara River Update for the International Joint Commission (IJC)

  • Paul Klawunn and Brad Hill gave presentations on the Niagara River to the IJC’s Water Quality and Science Advisory Boards. This joint meeting was held in Niagara Falls, New York, as part of the Centennial Celebration of the 1909 Boundary Waters Treaty. Paul Klawunn provided an update on the status and trends of the “Priority 18” chemicals on behalf of the Niagara River Secretariat. Overall, the concentration of these contaminants has decreased over the last 20 years, but some contaminants, notably PAHs, have demonstrated an increasing trend recently. Brad Hill provided an update on the near-shore effect of the Niagara River to Lake Ontario. While there is some evidence that Niagara River influences near-shore contaminant concentrations, there is a definite information gap that prevents drawing firm conclusions.

Communities Monitor Invasive Plant Species – St. Lawrence River

  • Monitoring the invasive plant species of the St. Lawrence River is one of the indicators included in the State of the St. Lawrence Monitoring Program. This activity is performed in collaboration with riverside communities distributed over a large portion of the freshwater St. Lawrence in Quebec. Initiated in 2004 at the beginning of the project, training is organized annually so that the participating groups will be well prepared to produce an annual inventory of the eight targeted vascular plant species (Lythrum salicaria, Butomus umbellatus, Hydrocharis morsus-ranae, Fallopia japonica, Phalaris arundinacea, Myriophyllum spicatum and Trapa natans). The training is given to the six groups currently involved in monitoring, and who work between Lake St. Francis and the St. Lawrence estuary. The training program includes an update on the problem and the severity of the invasion by the monitored species, discussions on selection of sites to be visited for the year, practical activities on the sampling procedure, identification of the species present in the wetlands, and data capture. Results contribute to decisions on the status of the river.

  • For more information, contact Martin Jean (514-496-6573), Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance

Papers and Reports

New Book on Lipids in Aquatic Ecosystems

  • Lipids in Aquatic Ecosystems has just been published by Springer, New York. The book was edited by Michael Arts (EC), Michael Brett (University of Washington), and Martin Kainz (WasserKluster, Lunz, Austria). It features 14 chapters (~370 pages), written by world experts, on the multifaceted roles that lipids play in aquatic ecosystems. The book will be of interest to a wide range of scientists from the fields of marine and freshwater plankton ecology, algal physiology, fisheries management, nutritional science, food web ecology, aquaculture, toxicology, and environmental science.

Aquatic Osteoporosis

  • Regional changes in lake-water pH and calcium concentration across Ontario, Canada (Click for larger view) | Image: Science.comResearchers working on a collaborative project in the Canadian Shield have revealed a new environmental concern. Using the term aquatic osteoporosis, the team documented declining calcium concentrations in softwater boreal lakes. One of many factors causing the decline is the long-term leaching of calcium from drainage basin soils by acid rain. Calcium is an essential nutrient for many lake-dwelling organisms, including Daphnia (or “water flea”). The researchers examined crustaceans preserved in lake sediment cores to document declining lake-water calcium and the simultaneous near disappearance of Daphnia. A large proportion of the lakes examined showed a calcium concentration approaching or below the threshold at which laboratory Daphnia suffer reduced survival and reproduction. The ecological impacts of environmental calcium loss are likely to be widespread and pronounced.

  • Jeziorski, A., N.D. Yan, A.M. Paterson, A.M. DeSellas, M.A. Turner, D.S. Jeffries, B. Keller, R.C. Weeber, D.K. McNicol, M.E. Palmer, K. McIver, K. Arseneau, B.K. Ginn, B.F. Cumming and J.P. Smol. 2008. The widespread threat of calcium decline in fresh waters. Science 322 (5906): 1374-1377.

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