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2010

 

Assessing the status and trends of biological invasions in Canadian inland waters

(Prof. Anthony Ricciardi, McGill School of Environment & Redpath Museum)

Biological invasions are a phenomenon that is garnering increasing interest every day. It affects all facets of life, from the ecological to the economic and even social wellbeing. Canada is rife with freshwater and is therefore at a great risk of potential invasions. This report was commissioned by the Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) to assess the status and trends of freshwater invasive species. Furthermore, it explores the ecological, economic, and future threats of invasive species on Canada. At the end of this report, we provide some recommendations for future potential invasions and the invasive species that are already present. Also, included is a list of aquatic invasive species by region in Canada.

Assessing the status and trends of biological invasions in Canadian marine coastal waters

(Prof. Anthony Ricciardi, McGill School of Environment & Redpath Museum) 

Presently, there has been no attempt by Canada’s federal government to create a comprehensive list of all alien invasive species (AIS) in Canada and the pathways by which they arrived. The purpose of this paper is to amalgamate existing knowledge of the extent to which AIS disrupt Canada’s ecosystems and economy. From these finding this report will to identify information gaps and propose future recommendations. The Canadian Wildlife Federation commissioned this report.

‘Sustainable’ Seafood

(Mr. George McCourt, McGill School of Environment)

Seafood is a staple of the human diet. However, population growth, increasing demand for seafood, and powerful harvesting technologies mean that formerly plethoric fish stocks are on the brink of collapse. Recently, organizations concerned with promoting sustainability in the seafood industry have emerged. These include the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), Monterey Bay Seafood Watch (MBASW) and Ocean Wise. However, their legitimacy remains an important question, as past decisions have been controversial, and poor traceability of products along the supply chain means that consumer evaluation may be difficult. Despite these issues, the work of certification bodies, partnership programs and scientific research centers represent an important step in the promotion of responsible fishing practices.

McGill University, an institution that both serves a large consumer base and is environmentally conscious, is well positioned to critically evaluate the seafood served by the McGill Food and Dining Services (MFDS). However, difficulties arise in defining what constitutes sustainable seafood, as well as obtaining and processing product information from McGill’s food sources. Therefore, research is necessary to determine how best to collect and evaluate information so that sustainable purchasing decisions can be made.

The objective of our research is to develop a system that enables McGill Food and Dining Services to make sustainable seafood purchasing decisions. We have defined ‘sustainable seafood’ as seafood fished or farmed in a manner which does not jeopardize the long-term health of any species in the associated ecosystem, and that is linked to economic harvesting practices that will allow for continued harvesting for generations to come.

Maison Productive House

(Mr. George McCourt, McGill School of Environment)

Rapid population growth is continuously increasing demand for the finite resources of water and food. However, the current methods for production and transportation of these resources are not only very costly, but have adverse ecological effects. Local food production and greywater recycling are two methods that could relieve the pressure on these resources and help mitigate the adverse environmental effects resulting from their production and transportation. The Maison Productive House (MpH), a housing complex located in Pointe-St-Charles, Montreal, Quebec, is equipped with both a greywater recycling system and the space for on-site food production. However, these systems are not being used to their full potential and could be optimized. The objective of this project was two-fold: first, to assess the potential improvements of the greywater system at MpH and second, to provide a working model for food production that maximizes crop yield. The research was thus divided into two sections: a greywater system section and food systems section.

Edible Campus Garden

(Prof. Fréderic Fabry, McGill School of Environment & Department of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences)

Our client, the Edible Campus (EC), is a transboundary organization that aims to demonstrate how sustainability, food security, and environmental quality can be linked through innovative urban design to produce food in an urban setting. This work is part of a larger effort in the urban agriculture movement to respond to serious concerns related to the modern industrial food system. As the organization is currently in the process of expansion, they have identified a number of specific legal, environmental, health and organizational issues related to their operation that may constrain their ability to meet their larger aspirations. However, at present, there exist very few successful models for alternative methods of food production in an urban context, and even less research on the topic. The ability of the urban agriculture movement to address the larger systemic issues of food is contingent on the continued success and growth of organizations like the EC, one of the current national leaders in rooftop gardening. In our research we explored the opportunities and barriers to expansion of the Edible Campus Garden. This was divided into two sub-categories of Food Safety and Organizational Viability.

Lyme disease risk within a peri-urban nature park in southern Quebec: Sampling for spatial distribution

(Prof. Bruce Case, Associate Member, McGill School of Environment & Department of Pathology)

Lyme disease is a growing threat in southern Quebec due to the northward expansion of blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis, the primary vector for Lyme disease in North America. The increased temperatures in Canada due to climate change create ideal habitats for ticks moving from areas of the United States with endemic populations. Since abundant tick population has a higher potential for transmission of Lyme disease, analysis and surveillance of these newly populated areas is essential for public health measure. This research focused on the fine-scale distribution of blacklegged ticks in Longueuil Regional Park (known as Parc Michel-Chartrand since September 2010), a peri-urban park on Montreal‘s South Shore, for the Zoonoses division of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and the Municipality of Longueuil.

Human Risk Assessment for Lyme Disease in a peri-urban park in southern Quebec

(Prof. Bruce Case, Associate Member, McGill School of Environment & Department of Pathology)

Recent studies have shown an increase in the northward range-expansion of the black-legged tick, Ixodes scapularis, the primary transmission vector of Lyme disease. This expansion poses a possible public health risk to the previously unaffected population of southern Québec. Periurban parks specifically pose a risk for transmission of Lyme disease, as high human populations come into contact with tick populations in these areas. For this reason, we wanted to explore the factors that may lead to higher risk of Lyme disease transmission within a peri-urban park in southern Québec. Our specific question of interest was "what spatial and behavioural factors put the public at risk for contracting Lyme disease in Longueuil Regional park'?"

Using the Geoweb to support community participation in watershed monitoring – problem identification in water management

(Prof. Renée Sieber, McGill School of Environment & Department of Geography)

The Yamaska River flows north into the Saint Lawrence River south of Montréal, soil erosion in its drainage basin is leading to decreased water quality, which is a concern to many citizens in the watershed. This 4784 km2 sized watershed has experienced a shift from being a largely forested area to one that is mainly agricultural, leading to changes in aquatic ecosystems, stream flow regimes, and natural erosion patterns. This study addressed soil erosion as it is an observable phenomenon of primary concern to many citizens due to the loss of fertile soils and water quality degradation. The Rivière Noire, one of the main tributaries of the Yamaska, is the primary study area for the project. A group concerned with environmental issues and water quality within the MRC of Acton is the Corporation de Développement de la Rivière Noire (CDRN) and this project was developed to help them address erosion concerns in the region. Erosion is a natural phenomenon, which humans can accelerate through intensive agricultural practices. Seven McGill students collaborated on a project to help CDRN and as part of their studies in Environmental Research under direction of Professor Renée Sieber. This report outlines the project and its findings. The project assesses how to increase use of local citizen participation and reporting using a Geoweb application, an online digital mapping tool. The project objective was “To design and implement a Geoweb application to enable community-led monitoring of erosion in the watershed of the Rivière Noire in the MRC of Acton, Québec”

Using the Geoweb to support community participation in watershed monitoring – water quality data collection to enable citizen led monitoring

(Prof. Renée Sieber, McGill School of Environment & Department of Geography)

Our research focuses on evaluating whether the GeoWeb platform can be used to facilitate citizen-led problem identification of watershed issues in a rural community. This research will provide our client, La Corporation de développment de la rivière Noire (CDRN), with a process and a manual to facilitate the introduction of the GeoWeb platform into the community. Data was collected through five small-scale workshops held in the Regional County Municipality (MRC) Acton. Following the workshops, a semi-structured interview was conducted with CDRN in order to assess the applicability and usefulness of the tool for their purposes.

Biological inventory of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue – Ecosystem Level Assessment

(Prof. Sylvie de Blois, McGill School of Environment & Department of Plant Science)

Summary unavailable

Biological inventory of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue – Biodiversity Assessment

(Prof. Sylvie de Blois, McGill School of Environment & Department of Plant Science)

Summary unavailable