Ecological Restoration - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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A riparian restoration plan for a construction site on the Brunette River

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-04-21
Abstract: 

Urbanization has altered riparian ecosystems, resulting in the decline of species that depend on them. The Brunette River in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia is no exception; though it currently supports a range of biotas, many of them are at-risk. These impacts are further accentuated by the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, which will result in the removal of a portion of critical habitat for the endangered Nooksack Dace. In light of the cultural significance of the basin to Kwikwetlem First Nations, the goal of this plan is to improve conditions at the project site post-construction through the establishment of culturally and ecologically important species and the addition of habitat features. I completed soil, vegetation, and water quality surveys to inform my prescriptions. Recommendations include the management of non-native species using manual and mechanical control methods and the planting of a native riparian community that fits within the confines of human infrastructure. A robust monitoring plan is also provided.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Shawn Chartrand
Department: 
Environment: Ecological Restoration
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Sc.

Blanket Creek Provincial Park weedy field restoration plan

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-05-21
Abstract: 

A key management concern for provincial parks is the establishment of invasive species due to their impacts on native biodiversity. Within Blanket Creek Provincial Park there is a 0.24 ha heavily invaded field dominated by hawkweed species and spotted knapweed which developed after a series of natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Restoration actions are required to renew the ecological process of natural succession and shift the vegetation community from its current state to one dominated by native species. The aim of this project was to determine the current site conditions which will inform a restoration plan for the site and act as baseline conditions for future monitoring. This site assessment focused on the characterization of the vegetation and soil conditions. Restoration recommendations focus on promoting the development of a deciduous forest characteristic of the Interior Cedar-Hemlock biogeoclimatic ecosystem classification zone. The restoration recommendations include invasive species management, decompaction, fertilization, mulching, and the planting of native trees and shrubs.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Ruth Joy
Department: 
Environment: Ecological Restoration
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Sc.

Simplified structure or fewer arthropods to eat? Disentangling the impacts of an invasive plant on breeding bird diversity in agricultural hedgerows

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-04-16
Abstract: 

In agricultural landscapes, hedgerows provide critical habitat for songbirds. Himalayan Blackberry (Rubus armeniacus; HBB) is a widespread invasive species in the Pacific Northwest that has been linked to lower breeding songbird diversity. My study explored two possible explanatory mechanisms: reduced structural complexity and lower arthropod abundance as a food source. I conducted avian point counts in 51 hedgerow segments at 2 locations in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. In these segments, I quantified vegetation structure using a Foliage Height Diversity (FHD) metric derived from LiDAR data. I sampled arthropod abundance on the foliage of woody understory vegetation. I used multiple regression to identify best fit generalized linear models. Songbird diversity decreased with HBB % cover and increased with FHD. However, arthropod abundance was unrelated to bird metrics, and similar between HBB and other native shrubs. This suggests that hedgerows should be managed to control HBB and maximize vegetation structure.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Ruth Joy
Department: 
Environment: Ecological Restoration
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Sc.

Restoration of an urban creek water quality using sand and biochar filtration galleries

Date created: 
2018-12-17
Abstract: 

Stormwater runoff from parking lots often contains a variety of elements and compounds in different forms and concentrations that may pose risks to biota in receiving aquatic systems. Heavy metals including copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are of particular concern in such runoff due to their prevalence, toxicity to aquatic organisms and persistence in the environment. The ability of a commercially available biochar to remove pollutants of concern through column treatments was assessed in this research. Factors including the pollutant’s concentration, total organic carbon (TOC), pH, and biochar particle size were considered. The biochar used in this study showed a significant heavy metals and PAH removal ability compared to sand, qualifying it as a potential substitute for sand in urban structural best management practices. Maximum percentage removal using biochar followed the order of naphthalene (NAP) > Zn > Cu. Regarding Cu and Zn removal, small biochar exhibited higher removal efficiency compared to medium biochar. In terms of NAP removal, both small and medium biochar exceeded sand with a five-fold percentage removal. However, biochar of different particle sizes had the same removal percentage.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Ken Ashley
Department: 
Environment: Ecological Restoration
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Sc.

Marsh resiliency strategies in the face of sea-level rise: Pilot project opportunities for Fraser River delta tidal marshes

Date created: 
2020-05-07
Abstract: 

Coastal wetlands are naturally resilient to changing sea levels; however, as rates of sea-level rise increase, the interaction between changing sea-level and ongoing human impacts will be a major driver in future coastal tidal marsh stability. My goal is to provide decision makers with recommendations to increase the resilience of the Fraser River delta front tidal marsh communities over the twenty-first century. I conducted a literature review to (1) examine the current knowledge base regarding effects of sea-level rise on tidal marshes and (2) identify current ecosystem-based adaptation strategies for increasing tidal marsh resilience to sea-level rise. Based on this review, recommendations are made for strategies that could be used to increase tidal marsh resilience in the Fraser River delta. Recommendations include (1) initiating delta-wide marsh accretion modeling to assess tidal marsh vulnerability under possible sea-level rise scenarios and (2) implementing sediment augmentation pilot projects for both direct (e.g., layered sediment lifts) and indirect (e.g., mud motor) sediment augmentation strategies to test ecosystem based adaptive management strategies as part of an adaptive management framework.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Ken Ashley
Department: 
Environment: Ecological Restoration
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Sc.

Nanaimo River Estuary Restoration: An Assessment of Berm Removal on Benthic Macroinvertebrates in Tidal Channels

Date created: 
2016-04-16
Abstract: 

Macroinvertebrates in two berm-impacted tidal channels (Site A and Site B) were compared to a natural channel (Site C) to determine short-term response to berm removal restoration using a BACI study design. Multivariate analysis indicates that the benthic community composition shifted from before berm removal to after berm removal conditions but not in a predictable organized way. Total abundance was highest at Site A in both conditions (before and after berm-removal). Invertebrate diversity was similar and low among sites. Biomass was highest at Site C. Organic matter percentage was highest at Site C in both conditions and it appeared to increase in Site A and Site B after berm removal. Silt & Clay (>0.0063mm) were statistically different in Site C compared to Site A and Site B although very fine sand was the highest in percentage among sites and in both conditions. Berms affect channel and benthic invertebrate dynamics; time and more research are needed to fully restore the Nanaimo estuary.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
Supervisor(s): 
Ruth Joy
Department: 
Environment: Ecological Restoration
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Sc.

A mitigation plan for salmonid spawning habitat in the Lower Seymour River, North Vancouver

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-04-19
Abstract: 

The Seymour River is a mountainous river located in North Vancouver. Over the past century, this river has been subjected to many anthropogenic activities that have cumulatively altered the natural flow and sediment regime. The Seymour Falls Dam, located in the middle of the watershed, intercepts gravel transport from the upper watershed into the lower reaches. This combined with the intense channelization within the lower 4 km of the river, which has created conditions incapable of gravel deposition and retention, has led the lower reaches to become gravel deficient. This gravel deficiency has caused the degradation of traditional spawning grounds of chum (Oncorhynchus keta), and pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha). This study aims to: 1) determine if there is a gravel deficiency for chum and pink salmon spawning in the lower 1.5 km reaches and, 2) provide recommended mitigative treatments of gravel addition to increase suitable spawning area, and therefore increase salmon productivity of the Seymour River. A site assessment was conducted on the lower 1.5 km of the Seymour River and included sampling of the five key parameters that define spawning habitat (i.e., water depth, velocity, dissolved oxygen, water temperature and substrate). A particular focus was given on analysing the substrate as it was expected to be deficient for spawning due to the predetermined conditions in the watershed such as the dam and the channelization. Results of the site assessment confirmed that substrate is a limiting factor for chum and pink salmon spawning in this area as the bed surface is composed of large cobbles and boulders too large for these specific species to move to dig a redd. Therefore, a mitigation plan of gravel addition is proposed to increase spawning habitat and conserve these salmon runs.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Ken Ashley
Department: 
Environment: Ecological Restoration
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Sc.

An ecological restoration plan for a weedy field at The University of British Columbia Okanagan

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-04-15
Abstract: 

Grassland ecosystems are rare, in decline, and support a multitude of at-risk species in British Columbia. At the University of British Columbia Okanagan in Kelowna BC, a 3.3 ha site at the entrance of the campus is outlined as Okanagan grassland in campus design plans but currently lacks native bunchgrass communities. The goal of this restoration plan is to return grassland plant communities to the site despite the pervasiveness of noxious weeds. I characterised site conditions through soil and vegetation surveys. Restoration recommendations include managing noxious weeds through mowing, hand-pulling and some herbicide application. The site will be replanted with bunchgrass vegetation, two pockets of ponderosa forest, and two types of shrub communities. A walking path, signage, and two xeriscape gardens will also be included to control human use of the landscape. Long-term monitoring will be incorporated into classroom curricula to tie monitoring to learning opportunities.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Miranda Hart
Department: 
Environment: Ecological Restoration
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Sc.

Alaksen National Wildlife Area: Reservoir suitability for the introduction of the endangered Western Painted Turtle

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-04-16
Abstract: 

Alaksen National Wildlife Area located in Delta, BC is home to freshwater species in the former tidal marsh. The current agricultural landscape has left a legacy of high concentrations of heavy metals, trace amounts of organochlorine pesticides, and excess nutrients within the sediments and water of the brackish Fuller and Ewen Reservoirs. Arsenic and phosphorous exceeded Canadian water quality guidelines, while arsenic, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, nickel, and phosphorus exceeded sediment quality guidelines. There were trace pesticides known to be endocrine disrupters detected in the water and sediment, and combined low level toxicity effects are a concern. A preliminary ecological risk assessment on the metals was completed and the results indicate that there is a possibility of adverse effects for benthic invertebrates, but negligible risk for endangered Western Painted Turtles. However, compounding all the ecosystem stressors along with rising sea levels leads ANWA not an ideal place to introduce this species.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Vicki Marlatt
Department: 
Environment: Ecological Restoration
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Sc.

Restoring hydro-impacted wetlands for secretive marsh birds

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-04-17
Abstract: 

Secretive marsh birds can be difficult to detect and are dependent on wetlands, leaving them vulnerable to wetland loss or alteration. This study examines the influence of management-altered hydrological regimes on five secretive marsh bird species in the West Kootenay and Columbia Wetlands in British Columbia, Canada. Focal species occupied wetlands with less frequently altered hydrological regimes more often and in greater numbers. Occupancy models suggested that woody vegetation, tall vegetation, and open water are important drivers of occupancy for these species. Wetlands most frequently experiencing heavily altered hydrological regimes had more open water and less tall vegetation, both of which were negatively associated with wetland occupancy. Water management operations may be promoting altered vegetation communities within these wetlands, in turn promoting lower occupancy of secretive marsh bird species. Restoration recommendations include: prioritizing lower elevation wetlands, limiting woody vegetation encroachment, and experimentally restoring the hydrological regime of affected wetlands.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
David Green
Department: 
Environment: Ecological Restoration
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.Sc.