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

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Advances in integrating urban form and energy-economy modeling for simulating transportation GHG-energy policies

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-07-26
Abstract: 

Vancouver, British Columbia is one of many leading municipal jurisdictions that has set ambitious GHG emission and renewable energy targets. This analysis uses Vancouver’s Renewable City Strategy as a case study of municipal policy that affects land use, transportation infrastructure, and population densification to assess the impact of urban form and density on transportation GHG emissions, energy use, mode-choice, and travel demand. The CIMS-Urban energy-economy model is used to provide realistic estimations of the effect of municipal policies on technology use and personal mobility behaviour that account for most urban transportation energy demand. The results indicate that improvements to urban form, in the absence of other policies that target vehicle energy efficiency and fuel switching to renewable sources, will not provide sufficient reductions in GHG emissions to achieve ambitious decarbonization targets. Additionally, urban density policy must be accompanied with mixed-use land zoning changes to be effective.

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

Effects of spatial structure on stock assessment estimates of biomass and productivity for Yelloweye rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus) in British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-06-24
Abstract: 

Ignoring the underlying structure of populations can lead to sub-optimal management of fisheries resources. I examined the influence of spatial population structure assumptions on stock assessment estimates of biomass and productivity for Yelloweye rockfish in British Columbia, Canada. Delay-difference assessment models were fit to different scenarios in which discrete stocks were delineated at successively smaller spatial scales. My results show that, in some scenarios, uncertainty in stock assessment outputs was no greater at finer spatial scales than for the aggregate stock. There was also evidence of differences in stock status at finer scales, suggesting that it might be worthwhile to establish methods for tracking Yelloweye on a finer spatial scale. Comparisons between the aggregated, coast-wide stock, and disaggregated north and south assessments would allow tracking of any differences in responses to management, providing additional certainty regarding management options and potentially lead to improved outcomes for the species.

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

Greenhouse gas mitigation potential of forest rehabilitation after severe disturbance events in British Columbia: Application of a customized, spatially explicit carbon budget model

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-06-27
Abstract: 

The rehabilitation of damaged forest stands in British Columbia (BC) will alter greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at a rate and magnitude that has not yet been quantified. In this study, I customize the Generic Carbon Budget Model for the Canadian Forest Sector to model rehabilitation activities consisting of converting deadwood to harvested wood products and enhancing growth by replanting. I model a region of interior BC that experienced intense wildfires in 2017 and 2018 and extensive mountain pine beetle (MPB) infestation in the mid-2000s. The results indicate that when 312,000 hectares of recently burned forest are targeted, net cumulative GHG emissions relative to the baseline are greater in 2030, 2.6 TgCO2e lower by 2050 or 21 TgCO2e lower by 2070. When forest impacted by MPB are included, cumulative emissions relative to the baseline are greater in 2030, 2050 and 2070, due to the low utilization rate of old beetle-damaged wood.

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

Estimating historic sea otter prevalence from archaeological and contemporary California mussel size structure

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-04-24
Abstract: 

Along the northeastern Pacific, the extirpation and subsequent recovery of sea otters generated profound changes in coastal social-ecological systems. Today, most conservation targets for sea otter recovery are formulated on pre-fur trade population estimates reflecting ecosystems devoid of humans. However, evidence suggests that for millennia prior to European contact, complex hunting and management protocols by Indigenous communities limited sea otters at sites of high human occupation in order to enhance local access to shellfish. To make inferences about relative sea otter prevalence in deep time, we compared the size structure of ancient California mussels (Mytilus californianus) from five archaeological sites on the Northwest Coast of North America to modern mussels at locations with and without sea otters. To estimate mussel shell length from archaeological umbo fragments, we established a morphometric regression between modern mussel umbo thickness and maximum shell length. We also quantified modern mussel size distributions from eight locations on the central coast of British Columbia, Canada, varying in sea otter occupation time. Comparisons of modern and ancient mussel size revealed that pre-fur trade mussel size distributions are more similar to modern mussel size distributions in the absence of sea otters, suggesting that sea otters prior to the maritime fur trade were maintained below carrying capacity as a result of human intervention. These findings provide broader insight into the conditions under which humans and sea otters persisted over millennia, and potential solutions for their coexistence in the future.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Anne Salomon
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M.

Evaluating the (mis) application of the indicator species concept in Canadian environmental impact assessment

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-01-29
Abstract: 

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a land use planning process that is meant to characterize and mitigate potential impacts of proposed development projects to valued components (VC), including a large array of species. Indicator species are often used to represent broader assemblages of species in environmental management and conservation. However, there is a danger of making false inferences in the absence of a transparent and rigorous framework for selecting and applying indicator species. By reviewing ten recent Canadian federal EIAs, I investigated whether and how terrestrial wildlife indicator species were used to evaluate potential impacts on wildlife VCs. Indicators were used ubiquitously, though variably, across EIAs. The variation can be attributed to a lack of rigorous indicator frameworks and absent or vague regulatory guidance. The findings of this study provide evidence for a systemic failure to uphold minimum standards of evidence in Canadian federal EIA. This has important implications for the scientific integrity of information used in government decision-making. Regulatory guidance should be adapted to promote the appropriate use of indicator species in EIA.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
Supervisor(s): 
Ken Lertzman
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M.

Spatial covariation in productivity of Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) in the northeast Pacific Ocean

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-04-24
Abstract: 

I examined spatial patterns of covariation in productivity indices estimated for 24 Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) stocks and 5 stock aggregates in the northeast Pacific Ocean. Spatial covariation was weak among stock productivity indices. Correlations existed among stocks at close distances (less than 400 km), but the direction of the correlations were both negative (as low as -0.82) and positive (as high as 0.94), resulting in weak overall correlation (r = 0.16) among nearby stocks, suggesting small-scale oceanic processes are likely driving stock productivity. A small increase in correlation among stocks in distant regions (between 2,000-3,000 km) was seen, which was more evident among the stock aggregates than in the individual stocks analyzed. Developing a better understanding of the underlying productivity among herring stocks in the northeast Pacific offers an approach that can help differentiate competing hypotheses about the drivers of productivity shifts by helping identify the most likely spatial scale of potential drivers of productivity.

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

Microplastic fibres in Pacific sand lance (Ammodytes personatus) burying habitats in the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia, Canada

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-12-14
Abstract: 

The ingestion of Microplastic fibres (MF) by forage fish is of growing concern, as these MF have the potential to inhibit ingestion of nutrients, as well as accumulate and magnify at higher trophic levels. In the Strait of Georgia (SoG) on the Pacific Coast of Canada, such accumulation could be significant to the Pacific sand lance (PSL) (Ammodytes personatus), a key food source for marine predators such as Pacific salmon, seabirds, and marine mammals. The Pacific sand lance lacks a swim bladder and must bury in shallow low silt, medium coarse sand patches, and these sedimentary habitats may have high MF concentrations. This research assesses MF concentrations in PSL shallow subtidal burying habitats. Seafloor sediment samples were collected in Spring-Fall 2017, using a Van Veen grab sampler. Samples were collected at distances ranging from ~850 m to 20 kilometers from shore and effluent discharge pipes, and water depths ranging from 5 m to 100 m below the surface. MF concentrations were determined from 112 sediment samples in the laboratory using density extraction methods, while controlling for contamination. We found significantly higher concentrations of MF in suitable PSL burying habitat than in not suitable PSL habitat. Highly suitable PSL habitat had an average of 4.6 MF 10 g-1 and a median of 2.3 MF 10 g-1. A Kruskal Wallis test revealed that these values were significantly greater than in samples located in non-suitable PSL habitat, which had an average of 1.2 MF 10 g-1 and a median of 0.3 MF 10 g-1 (p = 3.5x10-5, 0-15 fibres 10 g-1). Additionally, we observed higher concentrations in shallow water depths (<40 m) than in deeper water depths (>40 m). Congruently, we found distance from estuaries and sewage outflows, as well as proportion of very fine sand in sediment, to be related to MF concentration in seafloor sediment in the SoG. The high concentrations of MF in suitable PSL habitat found in this study could potentially have implications for PSL, such as MF ingestion and the consequent inability to digest organic foods due to the blockage of the digestive tract by MF.

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

An analysis of off-reserve core housing need of Indigenous renters in British Columbia

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-04-09
Abstract: 

This project uses Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Core Housing Need (CHN) indicator to assess the incidence of inadequate housing, unaffordable housing, and unsuitable housing for Indigenous and non-Indigenous renter households from 1996 to 2016 in British Columbia using data collected through the Census and National Household Survey. Trends over time, regional differences, and disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous households are discussed in relation to housing policy and other indicators, such as average household income and vacancy rate. The incidence of CHN of Indigenous renter households decreased from 48.5% to 35.2% between 1996 and 2016. However, the current incidence of CHN (2016) continues to be much higher for Indigenous renter households (35.2%) than non-Indigenous renter households (29.4%). Regionally, Indigenous renter households in the Mainland/Southwest and Vancouver Island/Coast regions experienced the highest levels of CHN in 2016, while the Nechako and Northeast regions had the lowest levels of CHN. Affordability is the primary determinant of CHN. Recent housing policy is attempting to address this problem by funding the development of affordable housing nationally and in BC, with both the federal and provincial government contributing to on- and off-reserve housing. Although the incidence of CHN for Indigenous renter households has improved over time, it remains a substantial issue and the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous households continues to exist.

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

Understanding the vulnerabilities and resilience of food systems: A case-study of three food service operations in the City of Vancouver

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-03-29
Abstract: 

Local governments are increasingly undertaking research to identify vulnerabilities of their food system with the goal of understanding how food security will be impacted during and after a disturbance. This research uses a case study of three food service operations (FSOs) within the City of Vancouver to understand how a short term and a long-term disturbance may impact the FSOs’ ability to provide low-cost meals to the public in need of this service. Food service operations set the menu, purchase, prepare and serve food at a facility or institution such as a community centre cafeteria. The aims of this research are to: (1) characterize vulnerabilities of the FSOs, and (2) identify characteristics of the FSOs that can or do increase resilience to the disturbances. This research develops a framework, the Food Service Operations Vulnerability Assessment Framework, to assess the overall impact a disturbance may have on the FSOs’ ability to provide food. The Framework was developed through a literature scan of food system vulnerability, through resilience research, and by incorporating and building upon similar frameworks used by other local governments. Interviews with the three FSOs staff were conducted and applied to the Framework, using the disturbances of an extreme weather event and an earthquake as hypothetical examples. Results found that the structural stability of buildings, power and water supply are the most vulnerable characteristics, as damage to them is likely to reduce the ability of the FSO to provide food to the public. Possible cumulative impacts, such as simultaneous road network damage and power loss, increase the vulnerability of the FSOs. The flexibility and resourcefulness of the FSOs staff, the multiple food distributors to the FSOs and on-site food storage may increase the resilience of the FSO to disturbances. Overall, this research provides other FSOs with a framework to understand their vulnerabilities and identifies resilience characteristics that could maintain food security during and after a disturbance.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Evelyn Pinkerton
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M. (Planning)

Has Tesla influenced consumer perceptions of electric vehicles? Insights from a survey of Canadian car buyers

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-02-25
Abstract: 

The reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs) is vital for the mitigation of negative climate change impacts. Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) could serve as a key element to reduce GHGs. Therefore, an increased uptake in the adoption of BEVs is vital if we are going to meet our climate goals. In this research, I explore consumer awareness and perceptions of brands that produce BEVs, including incumbent automakers, as well as Tesla, a relatively new BEV-focused automaker. Among the broad literature of consumer research on battery electric vehicles (BEVs), little weight is placed on the role of automaker brand. Drawing from marketing literature, I note that consumers might prefer the automotive brands that they are familiar with, due to brand loyalty. Alternatively, they might prefer Tesla for being more innovative, affording it a pioneer advantage. I study the role of brand using survey data collected from a representative sample of 2,123 Canadian new vehicle-buyers in 2017. Findings reveal that respondents most frequently associate BEVs with Tesla (27% of respondents), Toyota (27%), Chevrolet (26%), and Nissan (13%). More than two-thirds of respondents are familiar with Tesla, and 40% select Tesla as a brand representing the “future of BEVs”. In contrast, when asked which brand they would refer to buy a BEV from, responses are more evenly spread across a variety of brands, with more selecting Honda (31%) and Toyota (30%). Of the Tesla-familiar respondents, most reference that Tesla has influenced them to perceive BEVs in positive ways, such as being more innovative, stylish, and environmentally beneficial. Similarly, respondents associate Tesla with images of being more powerful, attractive, and trendy, relative to BEVs in general. These findings could be associated with intent to purchase a BEV considering that 51% of the Tesla familiar respondents indicated that Tesla was increasing their interest to purchase a BEV. These exploratory findings suggest that Tesla has contributed to shaping consumer perceptions of BEVs.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Jonn Axsen
Department: 
Environment: School of Resource and Environmental Management
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.R.M.