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

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Assessment of the impacts of bottom trawling on marine foundation species in northern Hecate Strait, British Columbia

Date created: 
2012-04-12
Abstract: 

I examine impacts of bottom-trawling on benthic foundation species (FS) in northern Hecate Strait, BC using photographic analysis of the benthos conducted over a gradient of trawling effort, substrate, and depth. Between 14-22 photos, from 31 remote-operated-vehicle transects, were analyzed to assess proportional coverage of FS. Using quasi-binomial regression I found that FS coverage is negatively associated with (in order of importance) the proportion of soft substrate (βPsm = -1.09; SE = 0.15), depth (βd = -0.31; SE: 0.29), trawled area (βS14 = -0.06; SE = 0.15), and surficial geology “sand/gravel” (βsand/gravel = -0.06; SE: 0.25). Surficial geology, inferred from substrate maps, is the least important variable associated with FS coverage, due to misclassification of substrate type at the scale of the survey. I found the true magnitude of trawling impact on FS to be uncertain due to inadequate power and contrast in my survey design.

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. (Planning)

Assessing the viability of the Species at Risk Act in managing commercial exploitation and recovery of threatened and endangered marine fish in Canada

Date created: 
2012-03-27
Abstract: 

Commercially exploited threatened or endangered marine fish are consistently declined for listing under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), largely due to predicted socio-economic impacts associated with SARA’s prohibitions. However, commercial exploitation can be exempted from SARA’s general prohibitions. If exemptions were utilized, commercially exploited species could benefit from other aspects of SARA listing, and support continued economic opportunities for fishers. I conducted a literature review, key expert workshop, and interviews to develop potential criteria to determine when this management approach might be appropriate. I administered a questionnaire to experts and stakeholders to evaluate the importance of the criteria, and elicit opinions on SARA’s possible role in marine fisheries management. Respondents favoured criteria that supported the biological feasibility of species recovery, and promoted compliance with management objectives, but disagreed over how at-risk marine fish could best be managed. Recommendations focus on ways to resolve the listing bias against marine fish.

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

Low stream flows: making decisions in an uncertain climate

Author: 
Date created: 
2012-02-24
Abstract: 

Water resource managers must make decisions regarding minimum instream flow requirements for rivers, despite many uncertainties. Two important uncertainties concern (1) estimates of usable fish habitat at different discharges, and (2) effects of climate change on future stream discharge. I examined the implications of these two uncertainties for the North Alouette River, British Columbia (BC). Using the British Columbia Instream Flow Methodology, which is an assessment method for water diversions needed by small-scale hydroelectric projects, I found that uncertainty in habitat preferences of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) fry generally dominated uncertainty in the results of the BCIFM when numerous transects were used. In contrast, for fewer than 15 transects, variation in physical habitat among sampled transects was the most important source of uncertainty. In addition, the increasing frequency of climate driven low-flow events suggests that operations of small-scale hydroelectric projects in BC may become more restricted in the future.

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

Developing ecosystem based sediment quality guidelines in British Columbia

Date created: 
2012-01-06
Abstract: 

Sediment Quality Guidelines (SQG) that do not account for biomagnification of chemicals in marine food chains, may be insufficiently protective of upper trophic level organisms. Biota-Sediment Accumulation Factors (BSAF=Cbiota/Csediment) quantify the relationship between concentrations in organisms and the sediment and can be applied to derive SQGs that account for biomagnification. PCB data for four sites on the B.C. coast were used to derive BSAFs. BSAF were used to assess risks to upper trophic level populations from current SQG and to derive new SQG. Bioaccumulation modeling derived BSAFs for additional species and human health risk assessment. Applying BSAFs shows that current guidelines fail to protect Orca whale, Steller sea lion and harbor seal populations or human health. SQGs back-calculated from relevant endpoints for human health, marine mammal, birds and salmon population health were all under 1 μg/kg dw – substantially lower than the current B.C. SQG of 20 μg/kg dw.

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

Large-scale movement patterns of male loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) in Shark Bay, Australia

Author: 
Date created: 
2011-11-22
Abstract: 

The Shark Bay World Heritage Property is home to the largest breeding population of loggerhead turtles in Australia. With little known about the movements of males in this population, I assessed the large-scale movement and habitat use patterns of adult male loggerhead turtles to inform conservation strategies. I tagged nine male loggerhead turtles with SPOT satellite tags and tracked them for seven months. Turtles exhibited fidelity to foraging areas considerably smaller than anticipated, with activity space sizes (85 pvc) that were on average 186.0 km2 (± 206.0 sd). To complement tracking data, I interviewed eight Aboriginal fishermen and local ecotourism operators and recorded their traditional and local ecological knowledge concerning loggerhead turtle movements and habitat use. Respondents suggested loggerheads stay within small areas and that there are some areas in the bay where loggerheads are more abundant. Traditional and local ecological knowledge therefore corroborated quantitative satellite tracking data.

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. (Planning)

An examination of the zoning policy and practices of the Parks Canada Agency

Author: 
Date created: 
2011-08-11
Abstract: 

This project examines the current zoning system used by Parks Canada by investigating its application on the strategic policy level and the park planning level. The analysis is based on interviews with thirteen employees from the Parks Canada as key informants. In summary, most informants felt that zoning generally achieves its goals, but also suggested a number of improvements for updating zoning to reflect and advance the overall mandate and policy direction of the Parks Canada. At the park level, zoning should include specific targets towards a desired future state or vision of each area being zoned. A quantitative decision tool for site-level evaluation of zoning would be helpful in assessing existing zoning during management plan reviews. This research provides an external perspective on the role of zoning in Canada’s national parks and how zoning could be enhanced to more directly address the mandate of the Parks Canada.

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

A study of the relationship between crop damages inflicted by the one-horned Indian rhinoceros and the defensive response to these damages by farmers in Chitwan National Park, Nepal

Date created: 
2011-11-28
Abstract: 

Crop damages inflicted by the one-horned Indian rhinoceros are viewed as one of the most serious problems plaguing the relationship between farmers and wildlife in communities that surround Chitwan National Park (CNP), Nepal. In response to these damages, many farmers implement defensive measures, which range from erecting a fence to more extreme measures such as the use of a firearm, in an effort to deter future damages from occurring. This study uses an econometric model to understand the factors that are hypothesized to influence the decision of a farmer to invest in defensive measures to combat these damages. Additionally, an economic model rooted in the theory of alliances is adapted and applied to the basic defensive measures model to determine if the decision to implement these measures is influenced by the defensive action of neighboring farmers. The results indicate that various factors, such as the distance a farm is located from the CNP boundary and the amount of land under cultivation, are responsible for a farmer investing in defensive measures. Further and in conjunction with the theory of alliances, when defensive measures within a Village Development Committee (VDC) increase, an individual farmer will feel sufficiently protected from this additional effort and opt to free-ride on the defensive effort of neighboring farmers instead of investing in personal defensive measures. These results will be helpful to assist resource managers to evaluate and create more effective environmental conservation strategies and policy recommendations in the CNP region.

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

Where is the catch? A closer look into the Fishing Surveys of British Columbia to reveal angler motivation and satisfaction

Date created: 
2011-09-27
Abstract: 

Since 1975, the Canadian provinces and Canadian Wildlife Service have conducted surveys on freshwater recreational fishing. Completed every five years, these surveys contain human dimension (HD) indicators pertaining to motivation and satisfaction. To date, data analysis of those surveys has mostly been based on simple statistical analysis like cross-tabs and t-tests. This research explored anglers’ HD indicators cross-sectionally and longitudinally through the use of four cross-sectional data sets in order to discover managerial relevant information. Exploring motivations over time revealed a steady importance of non-catch related motivations, while the weight of catch-related items declined. A principal component and cluster analysis of combined data (1990-2005) identified four distinct clusters, each predominantly driven by another motive (Everything, Catch, Eating, Social). An information-theoretic approach was applied to analyse satisfaction as a function of various variables. Satisfaction was positively correlated to days fished, fishing success and harvest, nature, social interactions, and year partaken and negatively correlated to residency, age and eating fish. This research demonstrates that the addition of HD to standardized angler surveys will influence natural science based decision-making, and to a more holistic policymaking and management.

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

Assessing bear-human conflicts in the Yukon Territory

Date created: 
2010-12-16
Abstract: 

Managing conflicts between bears and humans is vital for human safety and for the conservation of bears. This study investigated black bear (Ursus americanus) and grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) interactions with humans in 18 major communities of the Yukon Territory. I used an information theoretic approach to generate predictive models of the relative potential of bear-human interaction for the 9 conservation officer management regions in the Yukon Territory. I independently modeled interactions for each species according to 2 distinct bear foraging seasons: hypophagia and hyperphagia. Predictive models for both foraging seasons suggest a strong correlation between anthropogenic linear features and black and grizzly bear-human interactions. Therefore, consideration of bear habitat requirements and “bear smart” principles during community planning and development may be critical to achieve long-term success in bear-human conflict management.

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

Population responses of Coho and Chinook salmon to sedimentation associated with forest roads in a coastal watershed of the lower Fraser River

Date created: 
2010-09-14
Abstract: 

In British Columbia, one of the main negative impacts on salmonid habitat is the production of fine sediments generated by forest roads or other human activities. Given this concern, this study’s main objective was to develop a quantitative framework for estimating effects of extreme suspended-sediment events caused by forest road construction and use on populations of chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) in a medium-sized coastal watershed of the lower Fraser River. The framework incorporates existing knowledge of sediment production by forest roads to make a quantitative link between traffic levels and physiological responses of salmonids. The results suggest that extreme sedimentation events generated by heavy traffic levels negatively affect populations of chinook and coho. Population numbers declined proportionally to the elevated levels of suspended sediments concentrations following a non-linear trend in which Chinook salmon are more vulnerable to the deleterious effects of sediments than coho salmon.

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