Biomonitoring 2.0: biodiversity assessment in Slave River tributaries
Principal Investigator: Baird, Donald J (2)
Licence Number: 15494
Organization: Environment Canada/Canadian Rivers Institute
Licenced Year(s): 2014 2013
Issued: Jul 07, 2014
Project Team: Beverley Hussey (Research Student (MSc), University of New Brunswick), Stephanie Connor (Research Student (MSc), University of New Brunswick), Colin Curry (Post-doctoral research fellow, Environment Canada/University of New Brunswick)

Objective(s): To assess the biodiversity in the Slave and Dog Rivers, 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: This project will assess the biodiversity in the Slave and Dog Rivers, 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 food webs of these systems will also be described using stable isotope techniques. The project will contribute to the wider protection of lakes and rivers by providing a case study within the Slave watershed that will 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 also be 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 sequenced. 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.

The project will directly involve local people in the selection and collection of biodiversity samples using a new technique - environmental DNA. Team members have already consulted with local community representatives from Salt River and Smith's Landing both in person (via PAD-EMP/Parks Canada liaison) and by teleconference, and have generated interest for future co-operation in this project, including obtaining funding for involvement of local youth and elders.
In addition to sharing preliminary results through the SWEEP meeting of the Slave Delta Partnership, the research team also intends to meet with relevant individuals and communities during summer and early fall 2014 to provide a full presentation of project results.



The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from July 7, 2014 to August 31, 2014.