2017/18 Research Projects

Mapping high priority sites for landscape scale conservation

Pam Wright and Jerrica Mann, UNBC

This project will map high priority sites for landscape scale conservation using AdaptWest layers to predict future climates and refugia and connectivity to predict high priority landscapes for conservation. This work will be compared to a macro landform (enduring features) technique for identifying conservation priorities in the northeast of BC. This project will compare the outcomes and explore the use of both mapping techniques for spatial analysis of future conservation priorities.

Mountain Legacy Project and change dynamics in Mt. Robson

Eric Higgs and Mary Sanseverino, UVic

There is a significant opportunity to advance the observation and analysis network made possible through the Mountain Legacy Project We sit atop the world's largest collection of systematic mountain survey images, and our repeat surveys amount to more than 7,000 images (making this the largest project of its kind anywhere). More than 120,000 images cover the mountainous regions of Western Canada. The vast majority of these photographs, approximately 90,000, are in British Columbia. The work of the Mountain Legacy Project has focused mostly on Alberta, but this project intensifies the research in BC. We will complete the digitization of high resolution historic photographs in Mount Robson Provincial Park, and use the handful of repeat images we completed in 2012 to undertake an initial look at change dynamics in these ecosystems.

Contribution of BC’s Parks marine foreshore to ecological connectivity

Natalie Ban, Charlotte Whitney and Sarah Friesen, UVic

Ecological connectivity is crucial for the persistence of marine biodiversity and hence should get taken into account in marine protected area planning, including how that connectivity might change under climate change. This project will evaluate potential ecological connectivity between the marine parks, conservancies, and other areas managed by BC Parks to identify those with relatively high connectivity. It would explore climate change scenarios to understand how connectivity between these protected areas may shift with changes in ocean temperature, and determine which sites are most important for maintaining connectivity now into the future.

Monitoring to capture Indigenous Knowledge

Natalie Ban and Kim-Ly Thompson, UVic

Most environmental monitoring programs focus on physical or biological monitoring, missing the observations of people who spend a lot of time on the land or sea. At their invitation, we are working with the Gitga’at First Nation on the north coast of BC – where there are a multitude of provincial parks and protected areas – to develop an environmental monitoring program based on knowledge held by Gitga’at Elders and produced by Harvesters. Data collected by the program will complement other monitoring efforts in Gitga’at Territory (i.e., by the Guardian Watchmen program and partnering natural scientists) to inform spatial management (e.g., within marine portions of parks and conservancies), marine resource management and climate change adaptation. It also aims to bolster intergenerational transmission of Gitga’at local and traditional knowledge. This project serves as a case study for other Indigenous peoples in Canada, as well as Provincial and Federal Government agencies who intend to reconcile and combine traditional ecological knowledge with scientific knowledge to steward the lands and waters on which we all depend.

Projected climate novelty in BC Parks

Colin Mahoney and Sally Aitken, UBC

This project assesses 1) projected climate novelty (i.e., emergence of no-analogue climates), and/or 2) timing of emergence of climate change signal from background year-to-year variability in BC parks and protected areas. This analysis could help guide where monitoring in parks could be most valuable, i.e., where the fastest or most unpredictable impacts of climate change might occur.

Remote cameras and plant phenology

Cole Burton and Sally Aitken, UBC

This project will purchase and install motion detection and time lapse photo cameras in Cathedral Provincial Park to track: 1) wildlife use; 2) snowmelt timing; and 3) plant phenology. This would contribute to our long-term monitoring of alpine vegetation, and capture wildlife visits.

Fire and climate histories in Helliwell and Denman Island Parks

Brian Starzomski, UVic

A study of fire and climate histories will be conducted within Helliwell and Denman Island Provincial Parks. These data will be useful in understanding past fire return times and climate in these parks, and will be key in management of landscapes for critical habitat for the endangered Taylor’s Checkerspot butterfly, Euphydryas editha taylori.  Taylor’s Checkerspots were last reliably documented at Helliwell Provincial Park on Hornby Island in 1980 and are now considered extirpated.  A small (likely declining) population exists on Denman Island, within Denman Island Provincial Park.