Current Research | Apr 28, 2020

Discovering Indicators of Fish Productivity

We always need to understand the link between the different features of fish habitats and fish productivity, especially in the context of proposed updates to the Fisheries Act in Canada.

There are, however, some challenges.

For example, when it comes to predicting potential impacts of industrial activities on freshwater fish habitat and fish productivity, there is a lack of studies of sufficient length and spatial scale where the impacts of individual stressors on fish populations can be unambiguously evaluated. We also lack studies whereby detailed fish productivity, physical habitat, and ecosystem indicators are collected simultaneously.

Similar challenges also exist for understanding the effectiveness (and timelines) of habitat creation as an offsetting measure for the loss of fish habitat.

In this research project, we are addressing these knowledge gaps by working with our own extensive datasets on: fish community structure, productivity and behaviour; fish habitat and supporting food webs; and climate. These have been collected on non-manipulated lakes and during large-scale manipulations designed to mimic industrial activities at IISD Experimental Lakes Area. 

Lake trout emerges from net underwater into a fresh water lake over yellow rocks.
We always need to understand the link between the different features of fish habitats and fish productivity.

More specifically, this project will address the following priority research priorities:

1) to develop and/or evaluate a suite of indicators that can be used to assess ecosystem impacts, and guide decisions on habitat compensation;

2) to improve our understanding of impacts to fish habitat and productivity from industrial activities; and

3) to determine the effectiveness of a newly-created diversion channel as an offsetting measure for loss of fish habitat.

This research is being carried out in collaboration with Lakehead University and Queens University with funding from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Mitacs. This project builds on previous research whereby we determined the drivers of fish productivity.