Impacts and remediation of wetland vegetation affected by development in Northern Areas

Regions: North Slave Region

Tags: physical sciences, site remediation, vegetation, soil chemistry

Principal Investigator: Stevens, Kevin J (2)
Licence Number: 15727
Organization: Wilfrid Laurier University
Licenced Year(s): 2015
Issued: Jul 24, 2015
Project Team: Rebekah Hamp (Student Research Assistant, Wilfrid Laurier University), Kevin Maccoll (Student Research Assistant, Wilfrid Laurier University), LeighAnne Evans (Student Research Assistant, Wilfrid Laurier University), Mike Hepburn (Research Technician, Wilfrid Laurier University), Unidentified Student (Student Research Assistant, Wilfrid Laurier University)

Objective(s): To quantify the effects of mining and development on northern wetland vegetation to improve the success of revegetation efforts.

Project Description: The overall goals are to 1) quantify the effects of mining and development on northern wetland vegetation through the application of historic vegetation ecology practices and the development of novel approaches to quantify and monitor the effects of mining and other development related disturbances on wetland vegetation; 2) improve methods for assessing the success of wetland restoration/remediation efforts by including metrics related to beneficial soil dwelling fungi (mycorrhiza); and, 3) refine existing approaches to revegetation strategies to improve the success of revegetation efforts.

The research team will include field and laboratory based approaches to complete the study objectives. Field based approaches include assessing plant community composition through non-destructive vegetation surveys, obtaining soils samples for determination of soil characteristics (soil structure, water availability, nutrients and/or contaminants) and seed bank composition. Root and shoot samples will be obtained for a subset of plants to assess tissue contaminant/nutrient levels, degree of colonization by root inhabiting fungi, and for the preparation of permanent specimens to be housed in the Laurier herbarium. Plant samples will be kept to the minimum number needed for a given test and samples will not be obtained from species present in limited numbers. Laboratory based approaches will include bioassays to determine levels of beneficial soil microbes present in the soil, quantification of root inhabiting fungi, assessment of species composition in soil seed banks and uptake of contaminants in spiked or field collected, contaminated soils.

During the sampling the research team met with the Giant Mine Working Group, provided a tour of the site to the Working Group. The research team has visited Chief Jimmy Bruneau High School in Behchoko, to give a talk to students. This year the team are planning additional meetings with the Giant Mine Working Group, and working with the Yellowknife’s Dene First Nation Community Liaison and Technical Advisor. The research team will continue to explore opportunities for community outreach and involvement in the projects.

Reports will be provided to the appropriate funding agency (Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Government of the Northwest Territories, Tides Canada). Results will be submitted to publication in peer-reviewed international journals. Opportunities will be sought to present the results through sponsored events (i.e. community outreach activities).

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from August 9, 2015 to August 31, 2015.