A Coastal, Pan-Canadian Collection of Plants, Microalgae, and Marine Invertebrates for the Canadian Museum of Nature

Regions: Inuvialuit Settlement Region

Tags: lichen, zooplankton, climate change, plants, marine biology, aquatic invertebrates

Principal Investigator: Graham, Mark S (3)
Licence Number: 16172
Organization: Canadian Museum of Nature
Licenced Year(s): 2017
Issued: Sep 06, 2017
Project Team: Lynn Gillespie (Research Scientist, Canadian Museum of Nature), Jeff Saarela (Research Scientist, Canadian Museum of Nature)

Objective(s): To assemble a representative collection of marine invertebrates, vascular plants, lichens, mosses, liverworts and aquatic, microscopic algae for research and educational purposes at the national museum (the Canadian Museum of Nature).

Project Description: The goal of this work is to assemble a representative collection of marine invertebrates, vascular plants, lichens, mosses, liverworts and aquatic, microscopic algae for research and educational purposes at the national museum (the Canadian Museum of Nature). Specimens will be used in ongoing research projects at the Canadian Museum of Nature, focused on the biodiversity of the vascular plant, lichen and bryophyte (mosses, liverwort), a flora of the Canadian Arctic, as well as algal diversity. New collections from the numerous areas to be visited will contribute to a more complete understanding of the present state of the distribution and composition of the Canadian Arctic flora and to expand the knowledge base for understanding the broad-scale impacts of environmental change on the flora. All specimens in the national museum are also available to the research interests of experts outside the museum, through loans or for use within the laboratories at the museum’s research facility in Gatineau, Quebec.

At each of the locations noted above two personnel will come to land from the ship and hand-collect vascular plants, and microscopic algae from freshwater sources for 2-4 hours. After the collecting event they will return to the ship. The ship is the main life support for the research team (food and lodging).

For terrestrial plant collecting, representative collections of all species present will be taken over as broad an area as possible, aiming to explore as many micro-habitats as possible, by foot, in each local. The collection of vascular plants will be done with a small hand spade or knife. For lichens, mosses and liverworts a small sample (normally less than 10 cm x 10 cm), will be removed with a minimum of soil. In the case of lichens on rock, the rock will be included in the sample.

For each collection event the research team will collect several individuals of each species. If a species is not common, a minimum will be collected to document it (enough to cover an 11” x 17” herbarium sheet). Detailed notes will be recorded on the location of the species, its local growing conditions, and other species that grow at the site. Photographs will be taken of habitats and plant species, when time and weather conditions allow. A small amount of leaf tissue will be preserved in silica gel (a solid desiccant), for later DNA analysis.

Vascular plant specimens will be processed upon return to the ship, and dried using a standard plant press. Once dry they will last for centuries when stored in a herbarium (dried plant collection). Mosses, liverworts and lichens collections will be dried in small paper bags.

For aquatic samples, freshwater sources will be identified, such as ditches, ponds, streams and rivers. Drinking water sources for communities will not be disturbed in any way. Water quality will be measured in situ with a sensor attached to a contained device (Hydrolab) that will be lowered into the water; temperature, oxygen concentration, pH, hardness and chlorophyll. This does not require any chemicals. A small water sample will be taken from each source (1 litre) for additional chlorophyll analysis and nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen). A small plankton net will be pulled just under the surface to collect microscopic algae (0.5 litre). A water sample from the bottom, near the shore, will be taken for microscopic algae (0.5 litre).

While on shore the team will sample marine invertebrates from the lowest part of the intertidal area. A 0.25 m2 quadrat will be placed on the sea floor and any marine invertebrates within its area will be collected. Animals will be located on the surface of the substrate and by turning over rocks; 4-5 quadrats will be done per station.

Also at each site, an inflatable, motorized research boat will launch from the ship to take marine samples off-shore to depths of 100 m. Zooplankton and phytoplankton will be taken by pulling precisely sized nets through the water between the surface and 50 m, resulting in a 0.5 litre sample each time; 2-3 times for each type of sample at each location. In addition, a grab sampler (0.1 m2) will be used to take a sample of the soft sediment from the bottom; 2-3 times for each location. The sediment will be placed into a container and returned to the ship for sorting. On the ship, the sediment will be placed into a sieve and rinsed with seawater. The sediment will return to the ocean and the remaining animals will be taken as samples. In addition to taking these samples, seawater will be sampled for later assessment of pollutants (2 litres), and in situ measurements of conductivity, temperature, pH, oxygen and chlorophyll a.

The Canada C3 project has an extensive community engagement plan. This will involve the main goals of the voyage and will involve the personnel for this project. In each community visited, the personnel for this project will be available to discuss their work and other related topics. All specimens collected will be considered for the national collection, and the data and images for that collection are freely available at, http://collections.nature.ca/en/search.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from September 6, 2017 to September 11, 2017.