ProjectA biodiversity management plan for Canadian Forces Station Alert (Nunavut, Canada)
Although the Arctic tundra is still largely undisturbed by direct human activities, thus offering unique opportunities to preserve its ecological integrity, the intensification of human impacts is clear and will generate the need to develop Biodiversity Management Plans (BMPs) wherever valued ecosystem components, such as Species at Risk, need to be preserved. Such plans have been proposed in many locations around the planet, but few exist in the tundra and methodologies still need to be developed. A BMP aims to define the actions needed to conserve or increase local biodiversity, and it should be site-specific. The implementation of a BMP relies on (1) the synthesis of existing background data; (2) the acquisition of new field data; (3) the establishment of biodiversity targets such as habitats or species protected under the Species at Risk Act; (4) the specification of actions to protect the biodiversity targets; and (5) the establishment of a monitoring program to evaluate the effectiveness of the BMP. My research project will be to achieve the first steps for the production of a BMP at Canadian Forces Station Alert in Nunavut (Ellesmere Island, 82°N), the northernmost permanently inhabited place on Earth. Given the paucity of existing biodiversity information from Alert, an inventory of local wildlife using camera traps, observation transects, and reports by station Station residents was started in summer 2018. We have also started to map wildlife habitats through analysis of satellite images and field survey of plant communities. In addition, we have initiated the mapping of trails used by off-road vehicles since this is a potential source of local habitat and wildlife disturbance. This study will make possible to develop appropriate spatial and temporal guidelines for reducing human disturbance in critical areas of arctic species with precarious status, namely Peary caribou, Red knot, and Ivory gull.