Impact and adaptations to climate change on ecosystems and biodiversity
On behalf of Mr. Robert Siron, coorcdinator of the OURANOS ÉcoBioCC program and of Prof. Andrew Gonzalez, Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Science director, we are pleased to invite you to a workshop on impact and adaptation to climate change on ecosystems and biodiversity. The workshop will be held on December 11, 2013 at the New Res Hall (3625 Avenue du Parc, Montréal, Québec, H2X 3P8) from 8:30 to 17:30. Both the workshop and the symposium are open to the public: online registration open.
Assessment and Perspectives of the OURANOS’s ÉcoBioCC program
The researchers liable for any projects funded under the OURANOS’s ÉcoBioCC program, are invited to provide their input on an initial assessment of the experience and to discuss the outlook of this program. This workshop is indeed an important step in the synthesis and in the elaboration of the program for the next phase of the OURANOS’s ÉcoBioCC program. All the projects will be presented at the workshop in the form of theme-based panels reflecting the research priorities of the program.
Prof. Andrew Gonzalez, Director of the Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Science.
Backdrop of the next phase of the OURANOS ÉcoBioCC program by Robert Siron, OURANOS
Robert Siron holds a BSc in chemistry, and a MSc and a PhD in oceanography from the University of Marseille (France). He arrived in Quebec in 1988 as postdoctoral fellow and then started his career as a researcher in marine ecotoxicology at the INRS-Oceanology laboratory in Rimouski. From 1995 to 1998, he led several projects in popular science for various organisms. Then he joined Fisheries and Oceans Canada to implement the Saint Lawrence Observatory. From 2001 to 2008, he continued his career as scientific manager within the Oceans Policy and Planning Directorate in Ottawa, where he coordinated the national program on Marine Environmental Quality, then he worked on the implementation of Canada’s Oceans Strategy and led the development of the Ecosystem-based management framework. At Ouranos since March 2009, he is coordinating the science program of the Climate Change Action Plan of the Government of Quebec. He is also in charge of the Ecosystem, Biodiversity and Climate Change program, which has already supported more than 15 research projects on impacts and adaptation to climate change in this field.
In 2010, Ouranos launched a new Impacts & Adaptation thematic program to address and coordinate climate change issues related to ecosystems and biodiversity (EcoBioCC) in order to meet R&D needs of Ouranos’ members. Four years later and after undertaking more than 15 research projects, mainly funded under Action 26 of the Climate Change Action Plan of the Government of Quebec (PACC26-Ouranos), the EcoBioCC program has developed new knowledge on the impacts of CC on key species (exploited, at risk, invasive and disease vectors) and on important ecosystems (e.g. northern, aquatic and agro-ecosystems), in addition to studying some conservation strategies and their role in adaptation (protected areas, ecological corridors, biodiversity survey). The program has also contributed to a better understanding of the role and benefits of ecological services in supporting our adaptation to CC. All this new knowledge is the scientific foundation on which adaptation measures must be built. This introductory speech outlines and takes stock of the first phase of this program which ended in 2013. The program is now being renewed and the process to establish research priorities for the 2013-2020 phase linked to the government Strategy for adaptation to Climate Change and its new Action Plan is underway.
Government review of the implementation of the « Ecosystem, Biodiversity and Climate Change » program of the Ouranos Consortium bySabrina Courant, Service de l’expertise en biodiversité, Direction du patrimoine écologique et des parcs, Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs (MDDEFP)
Sabrina Courant is a biodiversity project manager with the Direction du patrimoine écologique et des Parcs (DPEP) of the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs (MDDEFP). She has received her B.Sc. in Biology from the Université de Rennes (France), her postgraduate degree in wildlife management from the Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR) and her M.Sc. from the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). During her Ph.D. at Laval University, she worked on the social foraging behaviour of plains bison. She worked as a coordinator for the Biodiversity sector as well as the Air and Climate change sector at Réseau Environnement for 7 months, during which time she became interested in ecological services. Since joining the MDDEFP in September 2013, she is in charge of various issues related to biodiversity, such as ecological services, climate change, the Convention on Biological Diversity and GMOs. She represents the MDDEFP on various interdepartmental committees, on the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Biodiversity Working Group and on the EcoBioCC program committee.
Since the early 2000s, the Government of Québec has been engaged in a proactive process to improve our understanding of climate change impacts and contributed, with other partners, to the creation of the Ouranos Consortium on Regional Climatology and Adaptation to Climate Change in 2001. Five years later, the Government of Québec unveiled its 2006-2012 Climate Change Action Plan, in which the measure 26 aimed to support the Ouranos Consortium program, including a panel on “Biodiversity and ecosystems”, to meet specific government needs on climate change adaptation. As a new 2013-2020 Climate Change Action Plan comes into action, this workshop provides an opportunity for the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs to review the projects implemented under the measure 26 of the 2006-2012 CCAP. This conference, a collaboration of various departments concerned, is a synthesis of the main outcomes of interest for the ministry, current or future implementation of the recommendations from the 14 EcoBioCC projects, and ministerial issues identified in the context of the EcoBioCC program renewal and the 2013-2020 Climate Change Action Plan.
2. Panels: synthesis on lessons learned and recommandations
Theme 1 : Species and communities
Panel moderator Anouk Simard, Direction de la biodiversité et des maladies de la faune (DBMF), Direction générale de l’expertise sur la faune et ses habitats (DGEFH). Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs (MDDEFP).
Dominique Berteaux obtained a Ph.D. in biology from Université de Sherbrooke in 1996. He then has been a postdoctoral scholar at Université Laval and University of Alberta before becoming a professor of wildlife biology at McGill in 1999.He is, since 2002, professor of ecology at Université du Québec à Rimouski. After being Canada Research Chair junior in conservation of northern ecosystems from 2002 to 2011, he is since 2012 Canada Research Chair senior in northern biodiversity. Dr. Berteaux is member of the BORÉAS Research Group on Northern Environments, he managed from 2008 to 2012, and also of the Northern Studies Centre as well as Quebec’s Center for Biodiversity Science. He created in 2009, the training program FONCER from NSERC in Northern environmental sciences (EnviroNord), he has headed since. Dr. Berteaux’s research focuses on mammal ecology, ecosystem functioning and the effects of climate changes on biodiversity. His research is mainly conducted in Quebec, Yukon and Nunavut. He directs since 2007 the CC-Bio project on the effects of climate changes on Quebec’s biodiversity.
The CC-Bio project (http://cc-bio.uqar.ca/) mobilized 40 people since 2007 from academia, ministries, government agencies, naturalists associations and conservation of nature organizations. We gathered information on more than 750 species (trees and other plants, birds, amphibians) and evaluated how their phenology and distribution have been affected by recent climate changes. We then developed niche models to project the future potential distribution of those species in 2050 and 2080 according to the different climatic scenarios. Species already respond to climate changes: migratory birds have outpaced their spring arrival and the distribution of certain species expanded northward. Our projections indicate an important displacement in ranges of distribution, especially for animals. According to the hypothesis of the Nordic biodiversity paradox, a future increase in biodiversity is expected in our Nordic ecosystems. The warming should also cause ecological imbalances since the species adaptation capacity varies considerably. Numerous ideas emerge from those studies for adaptation. We have described the context and research results in a book to be published in January 2014 by Presses de l’Université du Québec. The conference is structured according to this book and makes a detailed presentation of it.
Impact of climate change on the expansion of the reed in the Saint-Laurence river by Prof. Claude Lavoie, Director of the Graduate School of Regional Planning and Development, Laval University
Claude Lavoie is a biologist and he holds a PhD in Biology from Laval University. He is the department head of the Graduate School of Regional Planning and Development (École supérieure d’aménagement du territoire et de développement régional) at Laval University, where he has also been teaching since 1996. He is an expert in ecology and managing invasive plants, particularly in wetlands and along roadsides, for which he leads the research in PHRAGMITES, a multi-university research group on Phragmites invasion. He is also working on the impact of climate on the spread of harmful species and the development of tools to aid in the decision process regarding invasive plants.
The climate changes along with the introduction of exotic invasive species are among the main menaces on maintaining biodiversity. The common reed, the most invasive plant of North American wetlands, is one of the species that benefits from the new conditions created by climate warming. Its geographic expansion is associated with decreases in water levels, a phenomenon that is suspected to occur at a more rapid pace in the coming decades, raising fears that the reed will invade the wetlands and banks of the St. Lawrence River. The objective of this work was to develop a habitat model for mapping the potential distribution of the common reed populations present in the wetlands of the St. Lawrence River using the current climate conditions and to utilize this model to predict the future distribution of the reed populations, taking into account climate change scenarios for the year 2050. The creation of the habitat model required several steps (collection of data on the current distribution of the reed populations, determination of the parameters that lead to the expansion of the populations, utilization and validation of an ecohydrological model, etc.).
The reed beds of the St. Lawrence River cover (2010) a total of 200 ha, which is not much compared to the total area of the wetlands located between Lake St. Louis and Lake St. Pierre (18 500 ha). However, the habitat model suggests that the current climate conditions are propitious for a considerable expansion of the reed beds. This phenomenon may be particularly remarkable at Lake Saint-Pierre, where the reed spatial distribution could potentially expand by a factor of 100, making this the largest complex of reed beds in the North American continent with more than 13 000 ha.
The climate changes that are expected over the next 50 years are likely to exacerbate the expansion phenomenon of the reed populations, mainly due to lower water levels of the river favoring the emergence of seed beds. The geographic expansion of the reed populations resulting from future climate changes may be particularly apparent in Lake Saint Louis and the islands of Contrecoeur where potential germination areas could increase by 40 to 50% compared to their current levels.
Considering the ecological importance and rarity of wetlands as well as the difficulties associated with the eradication of large reed beds, it would be preferable to develop preventive measures to stop or at least slow down the invasion process. Wetland disturbances (soil disturbance) should be, wherever possible, avoided as they are often the leading cause of geographic expansion of reeds by seeds. Bare ground created by any work carried out in the swamps should be replanted as soon as possible. The use of herbicides, currently prohibited in wetlands, might be an interesting avenue as a prevention method (a few square meters) at the beginning of the invasion process.
The expansion of the white-footed mouse and the emergence of Lyme disease in Quebec by Virginie Millien, Redpath Museum and Department of Biology, McGill University
Virginie Millien is a professor and curator at the Redpath Museum of McGill University since 2008. Her research focuses on the effects that environmental changes have on the distribution patterns and morphological diversity of mammals.
Virginie Millien, Andrew Gonzalez, Francois-Joseph Lapointe, Nicholas Ogden
We evaluated the effects of climate change and habitat fragmentation on the range expansion of the white-footed mouse Peromyscus leucopus and its implication in the emergence and spread of Lyme disease (LD) in Québec. We found that this species has expanded at a rate of ~ 10km per year over the last few decades. Using a species distribution model, we predict that the climate will be favorable for P. leucopus over most of Quebec by 2050. However, using molecular markers and habitat connectivity modeling, we detected strong barriers to dispersal. These results were compared with the distribution of ticks and LD prevalence across our study sites to better characterize the influence of P. leucopus on LD emergence. Our results will improve models of LD spread and so inform current and future public health risks posed by LD in Québec.
James Bay’s vascular and nonvascular flora biodiversity and assessment of their vulnerability to climate changes by Nicole Fenton, Francine Tremblay, Maryse Marchand and Yves Bergeron, Institut de recherche sur les forêts, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT).
Nicole Fenton is a specialist in the ecology of bryophytes and associate researcher at UQAT. More specifically, she is interested in both the influence of forest and its management on diversity and the functioning of the moss community and the influence of bryophytes on the functioning of natural and managed forests.
The work of Francine Tremblay involves genetics of forest trees. Part of the laboratory’s efforts are devoted to studies on phylogeography and structure of populations using different molecular markers.
Nicole Fenton, Francine Tremblay, Maryse Marchand and Yves Bergeron, Forest Research Institute, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, 445 boul. de l’Université, Rouyn-Noranda, QC, Canada J9X 5E4
This project intended to increase the understanding of how climatic factors and habitat characteristics influence the actual distribution of vascular and nonvascular flora wealth of northern ecosystems in order to better assess the impact of climate changes on their future distribution. More specifically, our objectives were; 1) update, based on existing data, a taxonomic digital database on James Bay’s flora; 2) assess the impact of the climatic gradient on the actual wealth of terrestrial ecosystems flora on this area; 3) identify key species potentially vulnerable to climate changes; 4) model, using climate scenarios from MRCC, the future distribution of key species of which the actual distribution is related to the climate gradient. We proceeded with digitizing the data on the distribution of vascular and nonvascular species from inventories conducted on the James Bay territory and eco-inventory data collected from the Natural Resources Ministry south and north from the northern limit of the commercial forest. The analysis of species as a function of climate variables demonstrates that among listed species, eight reach their southern limit and 65 their northern limit within the James Bay territory. Our results show that the wealth of strata responds simultaneously to the climate, mainly precipitations, and to the retrace interval of natural disturbance. The species distribution under various climate scenarios shows an increase of the wealth of vascular flora in the north and a decrease for the nonvascular flora (lichens). Globally, our results demonstrated that the wealth of species on northern territories would be affected both by a direct impact from the climate and an indirect impact from the climate on the disturbance regime (fire cycle).
Theme 2 : Ecosystems and Habitats
Panel moderator Marcel Darveau, Head of boreal conservation and research for Quebec, Ducks Unlimited Canada
Impacts of climate change on space use by migratory caribou from Quebec-Labrador by Christian Dussault, Direction de la faune terrestre et de l’avifaune, Direction générale de l’expertise sur la faune et ses habitats, Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs du Québec
Christian has received his B.Sc. from the Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR) and his M.Sc. from the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR). During his Ph.D. at Laval University, he worked on the ecology of moose and the impact of logging on wildlife. He worked as a researcher for 2 years at Laval University and 5 years at the Université du Québec à Rimouski, during which time he became interested in the overabundant deer populations and the relationship between wildlife and human activities. For the past 7 years, he is a biologist with the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs (MDDEFP). He coordinates, in collaboration with the universities, various research projects on large mammals.
The migratory caribou is a central element of the ecology of northern environments and it is the heart of the culture and economy of this region. For the past 25 years, adundance and seasonal distribution of two large herds of migratory caribou that inhabit Northern Quebec and Labrador, the Rivière-George (RG) herd and the Rivière-aux-Feuilles (RF) herd, have shown large fluctuations. However, there is little information on the factors that will explain these variations particularly in terms of the effects of climate change. Given the magnitude of the anticipated climate changes particularly in the northern environments, it is essential to focus on their effects on the caribou populations in order to ensure proper management of the populations both from the perspective of conservation as well as of exploitation (sustainable exploitation). To better understand the influence of climate conditions and the environmental variables on the phenology of migration and on habitat selection during migration, we will initially develop an approach to define the migration patterns and identify migration arrivals and departures based on changes in travel patterns. Applying satellite data from 25 years on two herds composed of 252 females for the RG herd and 150 females for the RF herd, it allowed us to identify 698 migration routes for spring and 813 for autumn. We were then able to show that the spring and autumn migration patterns of the caribou, very variable in the 1990s, tended to stabilize in recent years for both herds. The observed changes in migration routes along with demographic changes in both herds are noticeably obvious by the changes in the use of wintering areas. With the help of the Canadian Regional Climate Model (CRCM) we have been able to show the climate impact on the phenology of spring and fall migrations. Specifically, calving was delayed by the warm springs, snowmelt and ice break-up increase the cost of travelling, whereas the arrival on the wintering grounds was faster during late winter due to the absence of snow on the ground facilitating migration. The snow characteristics affecting the cost of travelling and the access to resources along with the anticipated climate changes may affect the bio-demographic of the migratory caribou of Northern Quebec and Labrador. Better understanding of the decrease in the population density along with the cumulative effects of climate components in the distribution of the migratory caribou are essential in order to understand the changes in the migratory patterns and to better guide management and conservation of the Quebec herds.
Hydrogeological modeling and modeling of salamander populations on Covey Hill: outlook for habitat conservation in the context of climate change by Marie Larocque, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, UQAM.
Marie Larocque is a hydrogeologist and a professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at UQAM since 2000. She leads the Quebec Network on groundwater whose mission is to strengthen and expand collaborations between researchers and knowledge users on groundwater. Her research focuses on the characterization of aquifers and on the interactions between groundwater and surface waters, particularly at the level of the wetlands. She is particularly interested in understanding the effects of climate change on the dynamics and renewal of groundwater. She made a significant contribution to these issues by the characterization of the hydrogeological cycles and by the use of mathematical modeling.
Marie Larocque1, Lael Parrott2, David Green3, Martin Lavoie4, Stéphanie Pellerin5, Jana Levison6, Philippe Girard7 and Marie-Audray Ouellet1
1 ESCER centre, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Université du Québec à Montréal; 2 Irving K. Barker School of Arts and Science, University of British Columbia; 3 Redpath museum, McGill University; 4 Northern Studies Centre, Université Laval; 5 Institut de recherche en biologie végétale (IRBV), Montréal Botanical Garden; 6 School of Engineering, Guelph University; 7 Geography department, Université de Montréal
Observed and projected climate changes are considered as a serious threat to biodiversity. Already classified as at risk, vulnerable or endangered species are all the more sensitive to habitat modifications. The example of the mountain dusky salamander (Desmognathus ochrophaeus) at mount Covey Hill is typical of this issue. This species’ habitat is closely tied to groundwater resurgences whose hydrological dynamics is indirectly controlled by the climate through groundwater recharge. However, the control exercised by hydrological variables on the sustainability of this salamander population is almost unknown. This project aimed an application of dynamic and ecological modeling on the natural laboratory of the Covey Hill Mount, a site of approximately 150 km2 instrumented for monitoring of hydrological variables and salamander populations, allowing the implementation of preservation strategies to promote the resilience of this natural environment in the face of climate change.
A paleoecological analysis exposed a decreasing trend of the recharge from 1900 to 2010. However, this evolution tends to reverse over the last decades. Climate scenarios provided by Ouranos indicate that the future climate will be significantly warmer and humid than todays’ (horizon 2050). Rainfall intensity should also increase significantly. A groundwater simulation throughout the hill using the MODFLOW model demonstrated that water piezometric levels, flows at resurgence and base stream flows could increase significantly until 2050. A groundwater simulation performed using the fully coupled HydroGeoSphere model on a small portion of the North face of the hill allowed to simulate the Salamanders’ habitats water dynamics. Results show that the resurgences average flow and associated number of days of activity will increase for the majority of future studied climate scenarios.
The life-cycle model of aquatic salamanders developed as part of this project (model centred on the individual) allows to reproduce a typical set of their physiological, ecological and behavioral characteristics. The model is also able to reproduce the variability of salamander development stages duration as well as the densities of adults observed in nature. The combination between results from this model and the HydroGeoSphere one allowed to simulate the progression of mountain dusky salamander populations on the Covey Hill mount as a function of future climate scenarios. Results indicate a significant increase in mountain dusky salamander abundance for all resurgences studied. This increase is accompanied by a significant decrease of the probability of extinction of salamanders with respect to resurgences at the higher elevations on the hill. The model has also highlighted a significant acceleration of the life cycle and an extension of the period for reproduction.
Overall results demonstrate the importance of implementing conservation measures allowing to improve the recharge on the entire Covey Hill mount, that is, beyond direct protected areas surrounding sites where salamanders have been observed and in a more continuous manner than identified priority conservation areas. Due to favourable conditions for salamanders in a future climate, conservation initiatives should be oriented towards minimizing the impact of known and identified disruptions.
Evolution of the freshwater high marshes in the upper estuary of the St. Lawrence and strategies to protect species at risk from the perspective of climate change by Najat Bhiry, Département de Geography Université Laval
Najat Bhiry is Director of the Northern Studies Centre and full professor in the Department of Geography at Université Laval. She has double expertise: the first on Quaternary geology (geomorphology, stratigraphy, sedimentology and micromorphology) and the second on plant paleoecology. Her main research topics are: 1) Impact of climate changes on northern wetland dynamics; 2) Relation between man and environment in Nunavik, Nunatsiavut and Iceland; 3) Geomorphological processes and their role in rivers dynamics; and 4) St. Lawrence River’s current and past tidal marshes. Her dual expertise allows her to ensure a strong multidisciplinary training for her students based on current topics and to establish close collaborations with researchers from different backgrounds domestically and internationally. Mrs. Bhiry has been responsible for graduate programs in Geographic Sciences (2004-2010) and for the program of environmental biogeosciences (2009-2010).
Danielle Cloutier is lecturer in the master’s program of environmental biogeosciences at Université Laval (Québec, Canada). She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology, a master’s of geography (shoreline geomorphology) and a PhD in oceanography (marine geology). Her multidisciplinary background provides her with essential expertise for the study of current issues related to the environment, and particularly, to aquatic environments. Over the course of her career, Mrs. Cloutier had the opportunity to coordinate and participate to national and international projects (Canada, Italy, Wales, Africa-Senegal), including the study on coastal marshes, the installation of sea outlets, dredging, sediment quality assessment, etc. She also has an expertise on oil spills in cold water and in the presence of ice (interaction between oil and ice-sediments). Together with the Canadian Coast-Guard, she developed an effective method allowing the dispersion of oil spilled at sea in the presence of ice. Her main interests and research topics focus on: 1) Sediment dynamics of St. Lawrence River’s tidal marshes; 2) Management and revaluation of dredged sediments in fluvial environments; and 3) Interaction oil-ice-sediments and future of oil in waters characterized by the presence of ice.
Line Couillard is the team leader within the Directorate of the ecological heritage and parks of the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks. She holds a bachelor’s in biology and a master’s degree in plant ecology. Her main interests and research topics focus on Quebec’s threatened or vulnerable plants, wetland plant communities and Quebec’s northern vegetation. She coordinates the implementation of the Act on threatened or vulnerable species as well as the learning and protection activities of Quebec’s threatened or vulnerable plants. She is the principal author or co-author of several identification guides and conservation plans on those species. The project presented in the frame of this workshop has been realized in response to one of the recommendations formulated in those conservation plans, namely, to document the erosion of marshes of the St. Lawrence freshwater estuary, considered as a threat to the survival of three species at risk, one phenomena that is likely to increase with climate change.
Tidal marshes from the freshwater estuary of the St. Lawrence shelter several endemic plants some of which are currently in a dire situation. Those marshes are affected by the erosion and/or flooding leading to a habitat loss for those species. Current and anticipated climate changes are liable to further emphasize this phenomena and thereby, habitat loss for species in a dire situation. According to various field observations, erosion is very active in the freshwater estuary and large rafts of vegetation are torn away and evacuated by equinox tides, intense storms or ice. The impact and especially the causes of those processes in this portion of the St. Lawrence remain inadequately documented until now. This is therefore, a first detailed study on the topic whose principal objective is to document the dynamics of the marshes from Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, Château-Richer and Île-aux-Grues and to identify the main factors responsible for their evolution in order to allow the MDDEFP to adapt its backup strategies of threatened or vulnerable species and of the area’s biodiversity.
The main results show that erosion of high marshes from the freshwater estuary is in the order of a few cm/month in all sites and has been caused by different phenomenon including the Irene storm characterized by strong winds (> 62 km/h) and heavy precipitations (80mm). The second is related to ice-out in April 2012 which contributed to the erosion of high marshes by removing rafts of vegetation. The historical evolution of the studied sites has highlighted a decrease in the surface of upper salt marsh usually accompanied by an increase in the surface of the lower marsh. Moreover, the vegetation of the four marshes studied is in the form of distinctive zones arranged parallel to the shore according to a submersion gradient. Two of the three threatened plant species targeted by the project appear vulnerable to the erosion of marshes: the Victorin’s gentian and the Victorini’s hemlock that grow near or either side of the erosion slope.
The incorporation of results through statistical analyses allowed to establish significant links between the freeze-up length, the slope height, the submersion frequency and the slope erosion. Similarly, results show that the combination and simultaneity of key variables (e.g.: winds strength and intensity, precipitations and high water levels) can generate a heavy erosion of the slope.
Critical thermal refugia for Atlantic salmon and Brook trout populations of eastern Canadian rivers by Michel Lapointe, Department of Geography, McGill University
Michel Lapointe is a professor in the Department of Geography at McGill University. Fluvial Geomorphologist (PhD, UBC 1990) and former Scientific Director of the CIRSA (Centre Interuniversitaire de Recherche sur le Saumon Atlantique).
This research project was carried out between 2009 and 2013 and addressed summer thermal shelters in rivers which are critical habitats for coldwater fish communities during heat waves including the Atlantic salmon and the brook trout. In a context of multi-purpose river use and climate change, riverine ecosystem management requires the development of tools allowing to better identify and preserve river sections containing those shelter habitats, invisible and therefore poorly understood, predict their vulnerability to global warming and to suggest mitigation or adaptation measures. This projetct was carried out in partnership with Ouranos, Hydro-Québec and NSERC and stems from a collaboration between eight researchers, four universities and institutes, CIRSA members, the CIRSA and the Canadian Rivers Institute from New-Brunswick. Technical approaches and models have been developed for the detection (infrared airborne) and spatial analysis of those shelter habitats (location, temporal variability), for the characterization of various types of thermal shelters and the respective processes controlling them as well as to clarify the conditions of use of those habitats by fishes. Those tools will allow resource managers to estimate the importance of thermal shelters for the survival of diverse Atlantic salmon populations and to model the fate of various types of thermal shelters in a context of climate change. Finally, in a mitigation or adaptation perspective, we have been able to analyze by hydraulic modelling, the practical efficiency of devices, eventually allowing the creation of artificial thermal shelters in habitat sectors vulnerable to warming, productive in juveniles but lacking in shelters.
Northern Quebec biodiversity atlas by Frédéric Poisson, Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs (MDDEFP) and Robert Siron, OURANOS
Frédéric Poisson obtained a Bachelors degree in ecology and a masters in biology from Université Laval. Since 2000, he works at the MDDEFP’s Direction du patrimoine écologique et des parcs. Hi score mandate is to analyse, by means of the territory’s ecology mapping, several issues such as the establishment and characterization of the protected areas network and the analysis of landscapes and wetlands. He is an associated professor at Université Laval and he is responsible for the course “Gestion écologique du territoire”. From 2009 to 2012, he was the coordinator of the Atlas project on northern Quebec’s biodiversity at the ministry.
The Atlas project on northern Quebec’s biodiversity has been funded jointly by Quebec’s government, Foundation Prince Albert II of Monaco and the Ouranos Consortium. The aim of the project is to study the biodiversity of a territory of more than 1.2 million square kilometers and to conduct this study by taking into account climate changes. The analysis of available inventories related to eco-districts allowed to process the knowledge of ecosystems in the pilot territory of the North Shore. Most of the funding from the Ouranos Consortium has been used to test climate models thinner than the one of MRCC at 45km. the MRCC 15lm seems to be the one that would best respond to the needs of the Atlas project given the scale of the chosen territorial mesh. If it has been possible to use the data in a qualitative manner to delineate spatial climate patterns, new analyses from data coming from weather stations are necessary to allow the use of data in a qualitative manner. The Atlas project has allowed to identify flaws and to capture the future needs in terms of climate data from Northern Quebec. A portion of the funds allowed to build partnerships between the MDDEFP and research groups seeking a common goal: RegroupementQuébecOiseaux, CSBQ and UQAT, UQAR.
Theme 3 : Ecosystem services
Panel moderator Alison Munson, Département des sciences du bois et de la forêt, Faculté de foresterie, de géographie et de géomatique of University Laval
Contribution of multifunctional agroforestry management systems to the climate change adaptation capacity of agrosystems by Alain Olivier, Department of Phytology, Laval University
Alain Olivier (B.Sc. in agronomy, Ph.D. in plant biology) is a professor of agroforestry in the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences at the University of Laval since 1995. As such, he is responsible for various courses and training provided under the MSc program in agroforestry. His research interests mainly focus on the integration of trees in the agricultural landscape. Since 2004, he is the director of the Interdisciplinary Group for Research in Agroforestry (GIRAF), which operates in both tropical and temperate (subtropical) zones. He also holds, since 2011, the chair in International Development at the University of Laval.
Climate changes (CC) can have a significant impact on Quebec’s agriculture. However, results from studies on the effects of trees in agriculture reveal that intercropping systems (IS) could contribute to the adaptation of agrosystems to CCs. Trees are introduced in widely spaced rows in ISs which allows the carrying on of agricultural activities. The diversification of the agrosystem causes complex and varied interactions allowing a better total productivity if the competition exerted by trees on cultures is managed properly. Profits can be can be even greater if we consider other ecosystem services offered by ISs. The objective of the project was to determine the potential contribution of ISs to the resistance and resilience of southern Quebec agrosystems in the face of CCs and specifically, their impact on biodiversity, hydrology, microclimate, agriculture yield and economic profitability of the agrosystem on the basis of different CC scenarios. The project involved experiments carried out on an experimental site combining a forage intercropping with hybrid poplar rows and red oaks spaced by 12m, and controlled laboratory experiments. Measured variables are based mainly on biomass and culture quality, growth and allometric relations of trees, root distribution, solar radiation, soil water, microbial resilience and microarthropods diversity. Ecosystem services provided by ISs have also been quantified and monetized. Climate models have been developed and calibration of the Hi-sAFe model has been carried out along with simulations of ISs according to various climate scenarios. Oaks and poplars have developed different rooting in presence of the culture. Poplar roots have shown a greater competitiveness confirmed by water distribution in the soil and a lower forage performance. However, it is the light that would be, at least in the actual climate, the limiting resource. The management of trees distribution and shape would allow to master their degree of competition. A meta-analysis also demonstrated that the choice of tree species is fundamental in the CC context. Only oaks have increased the density of soil microarthropods which are closely linked to thin roots. Facing an increase in droughts, microarthropods could find in ISs more organic resources required for their survival and the maintenance of their functions, very important for the agrosystem. Agroforestal systems demonstrated the capacity to increase soil microbial resilience and a positive effect on productivity and crops drought tolerance. Conventional systems in current climate provide a greater agriculture yield in comparison with IS’s yield. However, the total IS economic value is 2.4 times greater when we take into consideration the ecosystem services they provide. Finally, our analysis show the important positive effects of ISs. The total relative production (trees and cultures) is greater in IS than in separate single-crop farming and forestry. This relative productivity gap is increased with anticipated CCs. Tree productivity gains allows in fact to offset the crop yield that, while globally decreasing in CC scenarios, is more stable in IS. In conclusion, dealing with the considerable consequences on crop yields caused by CCs for the agricultural sector and considering the increasing interest for ecosystem services, ISs has great advantages in Quebec, especially thanks to a more stable yield of cultures and to the resilience of ecosystem processes involved in the agroforestal system. The adoption of ISs on a large scale in southern Quebec could limit the dependence of farmers on risk management programs.
Tools for the hydrological, economic and spatial analysis of ecological services provided by wetlands of the lower St. Lawrence lowlands: adaptation to climate change by Richard Fournier, Department of Applied Geomatics, Sherbrooke University
Professor Fournier completed his B.Sc. in Physics with a specialization in atmospheric ciences in 1984, a master’s in space science (M.Sc.) with a specialization in remote sensing in 1990 and a Ph.D. in geomatics in 1997. He has more than 25 years experience in implementing geomatics tools in natural environments (forests and wetlands) combining his research projects in the Canada Center for Remote Sensing, Canadian Forest Service and finally since 2001, at the Department of Geomatics at Université de Sherbrooke.
The concept of environmental services allows to establish the significance of ecosystems to any necessary adaptation in order to limit the effects of climate changes. We suggest the use of hydrologic, spatial and economic models as well as plant characterization in order to assess multiple ecosystem services provided by wetland sites (WS). Our work focus on two watersheds from the St. Lawrence lowlands. The use of a hydrological model aims to evaluate the role of WS in supporting low waters as well as flood alleviation. Plant characterization will be used to assess the effect of distance between WS and streams on structuring these environments and their functionality. We suggest also the introduction of a series of spatial indicators at different scales reflecting environmental services according to sustainable development criteria, in order to propose critical areas for intervention. Finally, an economic analysis will provide an accounting framework of those environmental services to quantify their support in connection with the impact of anthropogenic pressures in a predictable context of CCs. Those analyses will allow to: (a) quantify the differences in functionalities between WS; (b) assess the temporal and spatial variability of ecological/hydrological processes; (c) identify the impacts of CC on environmental services attributed to WS and (d) assess the significance of the role of WS in the development of adaptation strategies dealing with CCs.
An ecological network to manage the functional links between biodiversity and ecosystem services by Andrew Gonzalez, Department of Biology, McGill University
Dr. Andrew Gonzalez is Professor in Department of Biology, McGill University, and Director of the Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Science. He received his PhD from Imperial College. After four years as an assistant professor at the University of Paris VI, he moved to McGill University in 2003 to take up a position as an associate professor and Canada Research Chair in Biodiversity Science. His research is focused on the causes and consequences of biodiversity change, a theme he explores using a range of theoretical and experimental approaches. Recent publications have addressed the link between species loss and ecosystem functioning, the impacts of habitat destruction and fragmentation on ecosystem, and designing an ecological network for Montreal that is robust to climate change.
The ability of ecosystems and human societies to adapt to ongoing climate changes will depend on our ability to create sustainable landscapes with diversified and resilient socio-ecological networks. In order to reach their biodiversity conservation objectives, the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs (MDDEFP) has highlighted a need for research to elaborate a methodological framework and the identification of a network of ecological corridors west of the St. Lawrence Lowlands. In order to meet these needs, our project has suggested an ecological network with three main objectives: 1) increase the resilience of agroecosystems of the region with respect to climate change by reducing the fragmentation of natural habitats, 2) promote the crossing of the St. Lawrence Lowlands during the latitudinal migration of species to the north, 3) maintain the specific diversity and environmental services of woodlands. Our approach is based on an innovative methodological framework and calls on experts in ecology, evolution, computer science, remote sensing and GIS, mathematics, and field studies. Our project has created a partnership between governmental agencies, NGOs and researchers. We will aim to establish an ecological network for protecting biodiversity and ecological services of the region and to adapt to anticipated climate changes for centuries to come.
Creation of a methodological guide for the economic assessment of non-market goods in the context of increasing the capacity for making decisions about adaptation par Jean Pierre Reveret, Département de stratégie, responsabilité sociale et environnementale, École des sciences de la gestion, UQÀM
Doctor of Economics and holder of a DEA in applied ecology, Jean-Pierre Revéret is a professor at Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM) since 1981. From 1993 to 1995, he has been Vice-Director at the Académie Internationale de l’Environnement in Genève. He is now professor in the Department of Strategy and Social and Environmental Responsibility at the UQAM’s School of Sciences and Management. He taught in Universities in France, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Senegal, Egypt and Ecuador. He created and headed the department of environmental management at the University of Senghor (Alexandria, Egypt) from 1991 to 1993. He was member of the Commission on research management and its IRD applications (France) from 1999 to 2002 and then, its science adviser from 2004 to 2008. He also served on the scientific council of the French institute of biodiversity from 2007 to 2009. He is member of the CRSDD and is now co-chair of the CIRAIG’s International Chair in Life Cycle, research center based at École Polytechnique de Montréal.
The methodological guide aims to ensure a maximum of homogeneity and standardization in the use in Quebec of tools aiming to provide an economic value to use and non-use values linked to the variation of ecosystems and environmental services quality they provide to the society in the frame of climate changes. This objective gave rise to three products: a) a point on the recent literature in the field of economic assessment tools of environment, ecosystem goods and services with particular emphasis on applications in the field of climate changes; b) an exam on the strengths and weaknesses of the methods and their relevance in a variety of real situations as well as their capacity to produce results which might be transposed to other ecosystems in Quebec and finally c) a collection of methods or combination of methods used in the field illustrated by a series of case studies among the projects funded by OURANOS, ensuring maximum relevance for the selected cases.
Theme 4: Conservation and sustainable management of biodiversity
Panel moderator Catherine Périé, Expert of climate change impact for Québec forests, Direction de la recherche forestière, Ministère des Ressources naturelles (MRN)
Adaptating nature conservation and the Québec protected area network to climate change by Louis Belenger, Département des sciences du bois et de la forêt, Université Laval and François Brassard, Coordonnateur R & D, Direction du patrimoine écologique et des parcs, Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs (MDDEFP)
Louis Bélanger is a professor of sustainable forest management in the Faculty of forestry, geography and geomatic at Université Laval. He is also the director of the new natural and built environments integrated bachelors program at the same institution. His research activities with his graduate students focus on the design of innovative strategies of ecosystem-based management and conservation for Quebec’s forestry regions. His research allowed to develop approaches ensuring the conservation and promotion of wildlife, tourist and landscape resources. He is also interested in protected areas as well as their conservation and management. He takes part notably to the development of ecosystem-based management principles in protected areas. For the past several years, he has been the president of Nature Quebec’s Forestry Commission, a national environmental group working towards the protection of the environment and the promotion of sustainable development. He is actively involved in the public debate on Quebec’s forest management.
François Brassard graduated in planning and environmental forestry (1996) and obtained a master’s degree in forestry sciences and geography (1998). He works as the research and development coordinator for the Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks’ service for protected areas. He coordinates an experimental project on protected multi-use areas in Quebec. He is co-leading the project on adaption to climate changes and design and management of the protected areas network. He also leaded the planning of the protected areas network throughout Quebec for close to 10 years and worked for different organizations dedicated to the protection and promotion of forest areas, including the minister of Natural Resources and the Bois-Francs Forest Agency, while teaching at the college and university level. Currently, he has the pleasure to give the course on geography of the woodlands at Université Laval.
The aim of the project is to contribute to the evolution of the planning and management framework of Quebec’s protected area network. To achieve this goal, two strategic orientations have been developed as a reference frame for the adaptation of the protected area system to climate changes within the framework of the forest environment. The first one consist in managing for ecological resilience, one of the foundations to the ecosystem adaptation to climate changes. The second aims to implement ecoregional nature conservation strategies to strengthen the ecological resilience of Quebec’s forestry regions. The establishment of large conservation areas (> 3 000 km²) is considered as one of the best strategies in order to ensure the strengthening in natural and semi-natural regions, of ecological resilience in the face of climate changes. Two possible approaches to establish large conservation areas are: i) the large sanctuary of nature constituted by a large strict protected area and ii) the large multi-class protected area formed with conservation cores (strict protected areas) wrapped in buffer zones (multi-purpose protected areas) where socio-economic conditions limit the feasibility of establishing wide strict protected areas. To develop this new multi-purpose protected area status, two pilot projects have been established in the Lower St. Laurence and in Mauricie focusing on the wildlife reserves of Matane and Mastigouche.
Development of a methodology and sampling framework for monitoring biodiversity in relation to climate change by Pedro Peres-Neto1,2, Dept. of Biological Sciences, UQÀM, Frédéric Boivin1 and Anouk Simard3.
Pedro Peres-Neto obtained his Ph.D. in zoology at the University of Toronto in 2002. Subsequent to his Ph.D. he has been a postdoctoral fellow at Université du Québec à Trois-Rivière and at Université de Montréal before becoming a professor in ecology at Université de Régina in 2005. He is, since 2006, professor of ecology at Université du Québec à Montréal. In 2010, he became Canada Chair in spatial modeling and biodiversity. Dr. Peres-Neto is a founding member of Quebec’s Center for Biodiversity Science. He is also an associate editor in four primary journals on ecology: Ecography, Global Ecology and Biogeography, Methods in Ecology and Evolution and Oecologia. Dr. Peres-Neto’s research is positioned at the borders of the study on communities and quantitative ecology and incorporates specific areas such as spatial ecology, landscape ecology, aquatic and terrestrial ecology, ecomorphology and evolution of species. Work undertaken in Dr. Peres-Neto’s lab combine observational and experimental approaches as well as quantitative data analysis and synthesis allowing to better understand the roles of the different factors in community assembly.
1Université du Québec à Montréal, 2Canada Research Chair in spatial modeling and biodiversity, 3Ministere du développement durable, de l’environnement, de la faune et des parcs (MDDEFP)
Biodiversity is changing at the global scale, primarily due to anthropogenic activities of which, climate changes (CC) are likely to become the most important cause over the next century. Numerous observations already demonstrate that organisms respond to CCs (e.g., phenological and distribution changes). These changes have the potential to greatly affect biodiversity and the various ecosystem services drawn from it. In this context, Quebec’s government has decided to adopt a follow-up program for biodiversity in order to mitigate and adapt to the effects of CC on biodiversity and ecosystem services. That is how the CC-Suivi project, whose purpose was to develop such a program was born. Yet, developing a follow-up on biodiversity (determine what to and where to follow) as a function of CCs is a major challenge. Indeed, as it is impossible to follow all organisms in all ecosystems, choices often heartbreaking should be made. This is particularly true for a vast territory with a low population density such as Quebec where follow-up costs can easily explode. This presentation will cover the multiple challenges and choices the CC-Suivi project has encountered and how those have been addressed.
CC-PEQ : Climate change and invasive species in Québec by Sylvie de Blois, Plante science, McGill University
Sylvie de Blois obtained a Ph.D. in biology with emphasis on plant and landscape ecology from Université de Montréal in 2001. She has been a visiting researcher at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia and a professor in McGill University’s department of plant sciences and School of Environment. She is the associate director of McGill’s School of Environment and member of Quebec’s Center for Biodiversity Science. She is regularly involved as an expert in international committees on sustainable development issues and new generation of young researchers. She co-initiated in 2007 the CC-BIO project on the effects of climate change on biodiversity in Quebec and is a founding member of the Phragmites group. Since 2011 she leads the CC-PEQ project which aims to evaluate the impact of climate changes on biological invasions. Dr. de Blois’s research focuses on plant and landscape ecology and particularly on the effect of climates changes on plant diversity. She is also coauthor of the book: “Changements climatiques et biodiversité du Québec: vers un nouveau patrimoine naturel” published by the Presses de l’Université du Québec.
Quebec’s biodiversity shall undoubtedly be enriched with new species due to climate changes but global warming could also promote the proliferation of invasive species. The CC-PEQ project (Climate Changes and Invasive Plants in Quebec) has deployed diverse expertise on biological invasions, biogeography, management of metadata, climate and ecological modeling, study of phenology and risk analysis in order to develop tools and knowledge required to assess the threat from plant species invasion in Quebec and Eastern North America as a function of climate changes. The current distribution of more than 200 weeds has been inventoried in the eastern coast from which 40 have been the subject of a detailed analysis in order to assess their future distribution in Quebec. The phenology of two late flowering species, the common reed (Phragmites australis) and the Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica), was also examined in situ along a climatic gradient in order to understand how those species adapt to the climate.
All of our observations demonstrate an increasing risk of invasion with climate changes. It follows that with time, a larger area throughout Quebec will show favorable climate conditions for 90% of analyzed harmful species (more invaded territories), that climate conditions will allow for the survival of at least seven new harmful species in Quebec and that climate thresholds allowing for some species to see their fertility increased will be reached (more propagules). Files detailing the response of 40 species have been produced. They are unique in that they describe the species biological and biogeographical characteristics, they are classified according to their harmful character, provide maps showing their actual and future potential distribution and provide an analysis of the risk of invasion across Quebec and North America as a function of climate changes. The increase in the number of propagules is based on the fact that both species observed in the field, the common reed and the Japanese knotweed, have shown a climatic limit for the production of viable seeds in the study area. The Eurasian common reed, despite its relatively recent introduction on the continent, can adapt its phenology to the length of the growing season which might allow it to respond quickly to the issue of global warming. Equally, the northern limit of viable seeds production for the Japanese knotweed is now located in the Quebec region, that is, 500 km much further north than the old known limit on the continent.
The knowledge and the tools generated from this project can be integrated in management plans of biodiversity and monitoring of natural environments and protected areas, in the development of prevention practices, early detection and control, in Quebec’s policy for the protection of the environment and natural heritage as well as in scientific programs for the understanding of invasion phenomena. It would be a good idea to further develop strategies for the diffusion and transfer of knowledge and better understanding of the relation between the climatic niche in the area of origin and invasion patterns.
An estimate of future Lakes temperatures Northern Quebec by Claude Bélanger and Yves Gratton, INRS-Eau, terre et environnement
Yves Gratton is a physical oceanographer. He studies circulation and water mixing processes in estuaries, open oceans and polar regions as well as internal waves and adjustment processes. He is also interested by the impact of physical processes on organic production and mathematical modeling. Professor Gratton has worked at INRS-Oceanology (now the ISMER) before joining the Eau Terre Environnement Research Centre.
Salmonidae inhabiting boreal lakes do not tolerate well relatively warm and poorly oxygenated waters and upcoming climate change could possibly reduce the habitat of those species. In order to consider the impact of future temperatures on the availability of salmonidae habitat, a one-dimensional model (MyLake) was used to simulate temperatures in lakes for 2041-2070. The model was first calibrated for each one of the lakes in order to properly reproduce temperature observations. Annual future temperature cycles were obtained via long simulations (32 years) for which required meteorological inputs were obtained from past series, modified with season average between future and past simulated values with the regional climate model CRCM (delta methodology). Many changes that were modelled result from the warming and the delay of cooling in early summer and fall. The maximum “future-past” differences occur in the 0-10m layer in spring. The differences in deeper layers occur in fall together with the delay of the fall turnover and the greater amount of heat distribution. When Lake Jacques-Cartier is conceptually located at eight latitudes, results demonstrate a habitat loss for the trout (Salvelinus namaycush) in all cases when considered limited by a temperature 12 °C although at least 33% of the volume of the lake always remain at a temperature below that limit. Considering a lake not as deep such as the Stewart Lake, results predict that this limit will be exceeded over the whole water column during 20 days in autumn. Exploratory results suggest even more pronounced “future-past” differences for 2071-2100 and an increase in the maximum temperature for Lake Jacques-Cartier from + 3.0 to + 4.7 °C.
3. A first synthesis : Assessment and Perspectives
Following the synthesis of the knowledge and lesson learned from these projects Francois Durand, Marcel Darveau, Anouk Simard, Alison Munson et Catherine Périé will present a summary of the workshop recommendations to the EcoBioCC program committee.
Robert Siron will present the actual stage of the 2014-2020 planification for the EcoBioCC program.
4. Closing comment and networking cocktail
Alain Bourque (DG OURANOS) will present his perspective on the OURANOS program on climate change impacts and adaptation.