Understanding coastal trapline ecosystems

Summary

The Kaa Upischukaashiiyiyuuch (land users from Kaa Upischukaashi trapline) understand the ecology of their trapline better than anyone. This collective knowledge provided CERRI with essential insights into the disappearance of eelgrass in this part of Chisasibi.

 

This study aims to mirror the way CH5 families envision the relationships that exist in nature in the documentation of ecological conditions using conventional science. We provided a comprehensive understanding of migratory waterfowl ecology by developing a method to link traditional ecological knowledge and ecological science to evaluate the state of waterfowl habitat. 

As a result, we developed a set of criteria to determine the quality of eelgrass beds as waterfowl habitats based on traditional ecological knowledge and conventional morphometrics. These criteria consist of new and improved metrics that can be used for future eelgrass monitoring.

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Clean- Absence of algae cyanobacteria and epiphytic diatoms-aakaashtiin- in the leaves and the substrate. Diatoms and algae might degrade the preferability of eelgrass leaves to certain waterfowl and could irritate them due to their toxicity. Cyanobacteria and diatoms bloom is driven by high phosphorous and organic carbon levels.

Accessible - leaves are accessible to geese at low tide. Unlike any waterfowl that can dive to feed, geese feed on eelgrass and other vegetation by upending, meaning only the head is submerged. This implies that food should be accessible (< 40cm of water, the average neck length of Canada geese).

Associated species - Fish (Sculpin, Whitefish, Cisco, Speckled trout) in the meadows.

Growing substrate – The eelgrass meadows grow in a soft ocean floor substrate (silt-like).

Clean- Absence of algae cyanobacteria and epiphytic diatoms-aakaashtiin- in the leaves and the substrate. Diatoms and algae might degrade the preferability of eelgrass leaves to certain waterfowl and could irritate them due to their toxicity. Cyanobacteria and diatoms bloom is driven by high phosphorous and organic carbon levels.

Accessible - leaves are accessible to geese at low tide. Unlike any waterfowl that can dive to feed, geese feed on eelgrass and other vegetation by upending, meaning only the head is submerged. This implies that under food should be accessible (< 40cm of water, the average neck length of Canada geese).

Associated species - The presence of fish (Sculpin, Whitefish, Cisco, Speckled trout) in the meadows.

Growing substrate – The eelgrass meadows grow in a soft ocean floor substrate (silt-like).

A COPY OF THE REPORT IS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST