Examination of distribution and density of juvenile Dolly Varden char in Fish Creek (Rat River)
Principal Investigator: Maier, Kris (6)
Licence Number: 15739
Organization: Gwich'in Renewable Resources Board
Licenced Year(s): 2016 2015 2014
Issued: Aug 10, 2015
Project Team: Kris Maier (Project lead/field supervisor, GRRB), Ryan McLeod (Field technician, GRRB), Christie Morrison (Field technician, University of Alberta)

Objective(s): To monitor essential habitats for further delineation of the spatial distribution of juvenile char in the Fish Creek watershed, and to establish a length at age relationship for juvenile Dolly Varden char.

Project Description: The research team seek to build on the 2014 success in monitoring habitats and using electrofishing to assess juvenile Dolly Varden occupancy. Specific objectives include: 1) to continue implementing a community-based monitoring program to monitor essential habitats; 2) to further delineate the spatial distribution of juvenile char in the Fish Creek watershed; and, 3) to establish a length at age relationship for juvenile Dolly Varden char.

Juveniles will be captured using an electrofisher and dip nets in predetermined and randomly chosen sections of Fish Creek. All electrofished juveniles will be enumerated and measured for length and will be released back into the water alive. A subsample of 40 juvenile Dolly Varden will be dead-sampled in order to collect more comprehensive biological information (e.g., age, diet, genetics). The project and its methodology were extensively consulted on and approved by the Gwich’in Renewable Resource Board (GRRB), Renewable Resource Working Group (RRWG) and Renewable Resource Council’s (RRCs).

Remote cameras will be installed to monitor habitat and temperature loggers will be installed to monitor water temperature in critical habitat. Several CABIN sites will also be established to gain insight into preferred diet items of juvenile Rat River char.

Local communities have been extensively involved in the planning and execution of this project in previous years and will continue to be part of the project going forward. Local community members have been trained in the use of various fish sampling methods and environmental data collection protocols. The results of this research will inform community based management decisions, ensuring the sustainability of char harvests in the future.

Results will be communicated to the communities at regular monthly RRC meetings immediately after the field season, at the GRRB fall board meeting in October 2015, at the Regional RRC meeting in January 2016, at the next RRWG meeting in March 2016, and any other local opportunities which arise. Results may also be presented at conferences and symposiums held outside the region and internationally. Published materials will be available in the future.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from August 11, 2015 to September 30, 2015.