Resource and Environmental Management - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Informing indigenous marine protection in Gitga'at territory

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-08-22
Abstract: 

Many Indigenous communities in the world have established protected areas to assert control over and protect areas in their traditional territories. Canadian policymakers are also examining how such Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) may advance marine conservation goals. However, the experience with IPCAs in marine settings in Canada is limited. This research project examines the marine conservation efforts of the Gitga’at First Nation on the west coast of Canada as a case study. The Gitga’at people are exploring the possibility of a marine IPCA in their traditional territory. I conducted interviews to investigate Gitga’at marine conservation values and management preferences, and used the results to develop a draft management plan for a prospective IPCA for the Gitga’at. Based on the case study, I identify challenges and make recommendations for the Gitga’at and other Indigenous communities to consider in the establishment of marine IPCAs.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Murray Rutherford
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M. (Planning)

The extent, density, and biomass carbon of eelgrass (Zostera marina) meadows in Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-07-11
Abstract: 

Seagrass habitats have recently been characterized by their ability to capture and store organic carbon, known as ‘blue carbon.’ However, the geospatial extent and carbon storage capacity of these habitats are largely unknown on the Pacific Coast of Canada. This research quantified the areal extent of three eelgrass (Zostera marina) meadows in southern Clayoquot Sound on the Pacific Coast of Canada using remote sensing technologies and assessed the above- and belowground biomass (AGB; BGB) and living carbon content of the intertidal and subtidal zones. AGB estimates ranged from 11 ± 4 to 92 ± 51 g DW m-2, which translated into carbon stocks of 4 ± 1 to 33 ± 18 g C m-2 and are consistent with global estimates for Z. marina. BGB estimates were much lower than values for Z. marina in other regions (45 - 285 g DW m-2), ranging from 5 ± 4 g DW m-2 (2 ± 1 g C m-2) to 26 ± 20 g DW m-2 (9 ± 7 g C m-2). Low BGB in Clayoquot Sound is likely a response to sub-optimal environmental conditions, resulting in the eelgrass’ shallow root system. The intertidal zone of two of our meadows, Robert Point (22,414 m2) and Grice Bay (186,468 m2), made up approximately 70% of their total meadow area (31,886 m2 and 261,667 m2, respectively), whereas the subtidal dominated at Kennedy Cove (4,318 m2), making up 80% of the meadow (5,343 m2). Mapping the intertidal and subtidal portions of each meadow allowed for biomass and living carbon estimates to be scaled up to their respective zone. After accounting for the size of each meadow, the more marine-influenced meadows, Robert Point and Kennedy Cove, had significantly higher density, biomass, and living carbon content values. Given the scarcity of data available on the extent of eelgrass meadows in Canada, regionally specific quantification of these habitats’ areal extent, biomass, and carbon storage dynamics are required to accurately assess seagrasses climate change mitigation potential.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Karen Kohfeld
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M. (Planning)

Advancing abalone conservation by revealing change in predator-prey interactions and social-ecological resilience through time

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-08-14
Abstract: 

Species conservation remains challenged by paucity of long-term data on how human use and environmental factors have shaped species abundance and trends. Further, as humanity pushes against limits of the biosphere, sustainable environmental governance could benefit from understanding factors that conferred resilience to enduring coupled social-ecological systems (SESs). Along Canada’s west coast, northern abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana) and coastal indigenous peoples (First Nations) have co-evolved for millennia. Yet within a half-century, commercial overfishing under centralized fisheries management caused closure of all abalone fisheries and subsequent listing of abalone as endangered. While loss of this cultural keystone species profoundly affected coastal First Nations and recent abalone recovery fuels interest in restoring traditional fisheries, concurrent recovery of a key predator, sea otters (Enhydra lutris), poses a conservation conundrum. I aim to advance abalone conservation by illuminating key changes in components and interactions within this SES through time. To understand ecological effects of sea otter recovery on abalone, I conducted field surveys in three regions of coastal British Columbia, representing four decades of sea otter occupation and varying environmental conditions. While sea otters caused abalone density decline, indirect effects improved habitat conditions and altered abalone behaviour and distribution, thereby mediating predation effects. Next, I synthesized multiple knowledge sources to demonstrate how ecological extirpation of sea otters caused social-ecological regime shifts allowing abalone to obtain higher historical abundances than were likely prior to European contact. This shifted baseline and continuing declines amplified perceptions of abalone extinction risk. However, if abalone are not truly endangered, society is morally obligated to conserve abalone and restore sustainable traditional fisheries for reasons of social justice. Finally, I explored how fisheries sustainability might be achieved using traditional knowledge of past governance and management protocols. Although polycentric institutions for abalone recovery today might support future co-management, key issues of power asymmetries, trust and funding remain barriers to address. By broadening our understanding of the abalone SES in western Canada, my thesis provides insights into how weaving indigenous knowledge of past resource management with contemporary western science can inform ecologically sustainable and socially just approaches to coastal fisheries today.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Field observation of sunflower star hunting northern abalone and red sea urchins on Haida Gwaii, BC
Lab observations of sunflower star engulfing a hatchery-reared northern abalone
Senior supervisor: 
Anne K Salomon
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Sustainability planning and assessment: Identifying and evaluating community capital in the district of North Vancouver

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-06-12
Abstract: 

In order to achieve global sustainability targets, there is a need for concerted effort at local and global levels. To date, there has been no consensus regarding the tools that should be used for sustainability assessment at the local level. While sustainability assessment and monitoring tools that are easy to understand and agreed-upon have been proposed, implementation has been challenged by the complexity of local planning, with its diverse stakeholders as well as a myriad of social, economic, and environmental factors and departmental silos. In this mixed methods research project, an opportunity was taken to operationalize the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in a local setting. One multi-criteria analysis sustainability assessment approach, the Community Capital Framework and associated tool, the Community Capital Scan, aligned well with the Sustainable Development Goals and subsequently was tested as a sustainability assessment tool by a Canadian community, the District of North Vancouver. The implementation strategy, the challenges and successes, and the results of the sustainability assessment are described. Findings will be useful for others committed to contributing locally to global sustainability goals.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Mark Roseland
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M. (Planning)

Linking Community-Based Monitoring to Water Policy in Canada

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-12-14
Abstract: 

This paper examines the relationships between Community-Based Water Monitoring (CBM) and government-led water initiatives. Drawing on a cross-Canada survey, the paper explores the reasons why communities undertake CBM, the monitoring protocols they follow, and the extent to which CBM program members feel their findings are incorporated into formal (i.e., government-led) decision-making processes. We find that despite following rigorous and recognized protocols, fewer than half of CBM organizations report that their data is being used to inform water policy at any level of government, and that respondents report higher rates of cooperation and data-sharing between CBM organizations themselves than between CBM organizations and their respective governments. This finding is significant, because governments at all levels continue to express support for CBM. We explore the barriers between CBM data collection and government policy, and suggest that structural barriers include lack of multi-year funding, inconsistent protocols, and poor communication. More broadly, we argue that the distinction between formal and informal programming is unclear, and addressing known CBM challenges will rely on a change in perception: CBM cannot simply be a less expensive alternative to government-driven data collection.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Sean Markey
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M. (Planning)

Factors associated with angling license purchase frequency and fishing site choice for BC anglers

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-05-28
Abstract: 

A substantial proportion of anglers in British Columbia (BC) are infrequent, meaning that they do not purchase a license every year. Maintaining fishing license sales is an important objective of fisheries management and leads to stable revenue for conservation and management. To sustain participation, we must better understand the characteristics, license-purchasing habits and fishing site preferences of infrequent anglers, as well as differences between infrequent and frequent anglers. We employed a survey distributed to random BC anglers stratified by participation; a follow-up survey was used to assess non-response bias. The results showed that age, fishing skills and centrality of fishing to lifestyle, number of other anglers in household and usual time of license-purchasing influenced the anglers’ likelihood to be frequent license-purchasers. Choice modeling identified the differences in fishing site preferences (e.g., expected fish size, amenities) between the two angler groups and revealed what management actions would increase overall angler satisfaction.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Sean Cox
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M. (Planning)

Blue carbon storage and variability in Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia

Date created: 
2018-04-19
Abstract: 

Seagrass habitats store substantial amounts of organic carbon, known as 'blue carbon', We took sediment cores from the intertidal and subtidal zones of three eelgrass (Zostera marina) meadows on the Pacific Coast of British Columbia, to assess carbon storage and accumulation rates. Sediment carbon concentrations did not exceed 1.30 %Corg, and carbon accumulation rates averaged 10.8 ± 5.2 g Corg m-2 yr-1. While sediment carbon stocks were generally higher in the eelgrass meadows relative to non-vegetated reference sites, carbon stocks averaged 1343 ± 482 g Corg m-2, substantially less than global averages. Our carbon estimates are in line with results from other Z. marina meadows; Z. marina’s shallow root system may contribute to lower carbon storage. Sandy sediment, nutrient limitation, and low sediment input may also contribute to low carbon values. The larger, more marine influenced meadows with cooler temperatures resulted in larger total carbon stock. By improving the quantification of site-specific carbon dynamics, eelgrass' role in climate change mitigation and conservation can be assessed.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Karen Kohfeld
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M. (Planning)

Estimating detection probability and detection range of radiotelemetry tags for migrating sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) in the Harrison River, British Columbia

Date created: 
2018-03-01
Abstract: 

Radiotelemetry is a commonly used tool for tracking migration rates, estimating mortality, and revealing fish behaviour. However, researchers risk misinterpreting tag detection data by not appropriately accounting for signal detection probability or detection range of fixed antennas. In this study, I use generalized linear mixed effects models to estimate signal detection probability and detection range of six radiotelemetry tags at four fixed antenna sites. Detection probability differed among the four telemetry fixed sites despite identical techniques and similar receiver site equipment in a relatively small geographic area. The interaction of depth and distance demonstrated the greatest impact on detections at all sites. I conclude that rigorous testing of detection probabilities and detection range of test tags at individual receiver sites should be standard protocol for telemetry studies to optimize study designs and to ensure that appropriate inferences are drawn when telemetry data are used to support management decisions.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Sean Cox
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M.

Policy makers or policy takers: How can cities contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

Date created: 
2018-04-26
Abstract: 

This study explores the implementation of community energy policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. There are two components to this study. The first is a modeling exercise which uses an energy-economy model to evaluate policies in terms of their greenhouse gas emissions reductions for the city of Victoria, British Columbia. While there is significant potential for Victoria to reduce emissions and fossil fuel use in some sectors, additional policy from the federal and provincial government will be needed to drive deep emissions reductions and fuel switching. The second component is a survey directed at community energy practitioners in Canada. It explores the use of tools such as the model used in this study to help inform the implementation of community energy policy. The preliminary findings suggest that while policy makers are open to the use of analytical tools for policy evaluation, significant barriers to executing these analyses and implementing their recommendations exist at the local level.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Mark Jaccard
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M. (Planning)

Developing methodologies for First Nations community surveys: Considerations for the external researcher

Date created: 
2018-04-19
Abstract: 

Indigenous communities require good data for the advancement of self-determination, planning and development. Unfortunately, there is a lack of disaggregated data available for Indigenous peoples in Canada, especially at the community level. First Nations community surveys provide a tool to address this data gap by collecting culturally relevant community-specific data. However, although survey research methods are well documented in the literature, there is little information specific to survey methods in the Indigenous context. This research provides considerations and guidelines for methodologies specific to First Nations community surveys based on four case studies and a literature review of the general survey research methods. Findings illustrate that the survey guidelines from the literature cannot be applied directly to First Nations community surveys without modification. Recommended modifications include community involvement and modifying methods to incorporate and reflect the specific characteristics and interests of the First Nations community.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Thomas Gunton
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M. (Planning)