UNbc nresi biodiversity monitoring & Assessment program


UNBC Final BMAP Report to Chevron, Ltd. (February 2016)

Executive Summary

The Biodiversity Monitoring and Assessment (BMAP) program was initiated in 2012 through independent research teams at UNBC, Archipelago Marine Research Ltd., and the Smithsonian Institution — all supported by Pacific Trail Pipelines Limited Partnership (PTPLP) and Kitimat LNG (the Project). A Contribution Agreement to fund the implementation of UNBC’s contribution to the BMAP was signed in June 2013.

The BMAP was originally designed to respond to research questions before and during construction of the Pacific Trail Pipeline and the Kitimat LNG facility, and to allow the incorporation of findings into construction and operational practices for these and other development projects. The BMAP was intended to make a complementary contribution to the Project by monitoring and evaluating the status and trends of ecological units and habitats within the Project footprint and areas of influence. The BMAP was also intended to contribute to the knowledge and understanding of the biodiversity in the region as the Project transects through four ecological units: marine, coastal, mountain, and interior. Because of delays in the final investment decision (FID), the program was suspended at the end of 2015, and only those portions of the research protocols that could be conducted before construction have been completed.

This final report summarizes UNBC’s contributions to the BMAP before construction for six UNBC-led Protocols: the Aquatic Communities Protocol, the Tailed Frog as a Model for Understanding Connectivity within Aquatic, Riparian, and Terrestrial Ecosystems Protocol, the Soil Integrity and Revegetation Protocol, the Anadromous Movement and Estuarine Habitat Use of Cutthroat Trout Protocol, the Animal Movement Restoration Protocol, and the High Elevation Terrestrial Invertebrate and Lichen Restoration Protocol. For each of these Protocols, many of the main contributions related to the testing of alternate (usually DNA based or environmental DNA based) techniques for the assessment of species biodiversity.

Overall, our studies suggest diverse aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in the vicinity of the proposed pipeline and LNG facility. Within the six protocols, we uncovered numerous indicators of ecosystem function that could be used during pipeline construction and restoration. In the Aquatic Communities Protocol, we identified benthic invertebrate and fish biodiversity using both traditional sampling methods and taxonomic identification as well as using novel DNA-based sampling methods. In the Coastal Tailed Frog Protocol, we evaluated standard tailed frog sampling methods and used DNA-based water sampling to identify coastal tailed frog distribution along the pipeline right-of-way. In addition, the Tailed Frog Protocol group described coastal tailed frog population genetics in order to effectively use this species as an indicator of ecosystem connectivity after disturbance. The Soil Integrity and Restoration Protocol group used a microcosm experiment in combination with field sampling to describe and identify the components of the soil microbiome as indicators of soil resilience and function. The Cutthroat Trout Protocol looked at the movement patterns and population genetics of cutthroat trout in the vicinity of the natural gas terminal as an indicator of aquatic ecosystem function near the plant construction site. The majority of the Animal Movement and Restoration Protocol was designed to evaluate post-construction animal movement and restoration, but the pre-construction work focused on the development of DNA-based methods to assess small mammal movements across the right-of-way, and to assess the optimal time for using DNA to assess populations of larger mammalian herbivores. Finally, the High Elevation Protocol outlined baseline invertebrate biodiversity along the pipeline route over Nimbus Mountain and explored promising techniques to restore high elevation ecosystem function through restoration of biocrust communities above the treeline.

Chapter Overviews (Pages open in new windows)

Chapter 1 – UNBC Biodiversity Monitoring and Assessment Program Overview

Chapter 2 – Aquatic Communities Protocol

Chapter 3 – Tailed Frog as a Model for Understanding Connectivity within Aquatic, Riparian and Terrestrial Ecosystems Protocol

Chapter 4 – Soil Integrity and Revegetation Protocol

Chapter 5 – Anadromous Movement and Estuarine Habitat Use of Coastal Cutthroat Trout

Chapter 6 – Animal Movement Restoration Protocol

Chapter 7 – High Elevation Terrestrial Invertebrates and Lichen Restoration Protocol


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