Biomonitoring 2.0: biodiversity assessment in Slave River Tributaries
Principal Investigator: Baird, Donald J (2)
Licence Number: 15268
Organization: Environment Canada / Canadian Rivers Institute
Licenced Year(s): 2014 2013
Issued: Jun 17, 2013
Project Team: Beverley Hussey (Research student (MSc), University of New Brunswick), Stephanie Connor (Research Student (MSc), University of New Brunswick), Colin Curry (Research Student (PhD), University of New Brunswick), Sarah Rosolen (Project Advisor, Aurora Research Institute)

Objective(s): To assess biodiversity in two tributaries of the Slave River, NWT, using a variety of collection methods, to support the establishment of baseline biomonitoring conditions, and to explore the use of DNA-based identification of animals, plants and microorganisms.

Project Description: To assess biodiversity in two tributaries of the Slave River, NWT, using a variety of collection methods, to support the establishment of baseline biomonitoring conditions, and to explore the use of DNA-based identification of animals, plants and microorganisms. The project will also contribute to the wider protection of Canada's lakes and rivers, by providing a case study within the Slave watershed which can serve as an example for the application of this pioneering new approach both within Canada and internationally.

Standard field collection methods will be employed. Environmental samples within the river channel will be obtained by sweeping a hand-net in a standard fashion through vegetation, and disturbing the river bottom, and from the river bank by the careful placing of small net traps for flying insects, and by sweep net. Soil samples will be also obtained, using a hand-corer. Collected samples will be processed in two ways: either by sorting samples directly in the field, or by transport to the laboratory at the University of New Brunswick for sorting under a microscope. Once sorted, samples will be sent for DNA analysis at the University of Guelph, where DNA will be extracted and analyzed. The resulting DNA information will be processed, and the results made available through GenBank, a public database. The resulting information on the types of animals and plants found in the area will be compiled and made available to local environmental monitoring groups in Smith's Landing and Salt River.

This study was developed in part through individual meetings and discussions with local people in Fort Smith, Smith's Landing and Salt River. The project team has already carried out public communication regarding the project aims. The team also intends to make school visits, and to participate in summer community events (e.g. youth-elder camps). The team will give a presentation to inform on the success of field activities, and will present interim results. The project team is particularly keen to engage with local youth, and to link with relevant courses in Aurora College, where appropriate.


The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from June 19, 2013 to September 30, 2013.