Object & Deliverables
This project incorporated four years of field study and over 40 students were involved and trained. It was a cooperative project between Forestry Companies, Ducks Unlimited and Syncrude Canada and work was performed mainly by students from the University of Alberta. The objectives of the project were to:1) determine the abundance and distribution of wetlands tat provide suitable habitat for water birds in the Western Boreal Forest in north central Alberta, 2)determine the natural variation in dominant ecological and hudrological processes coontrolling wetland structure and function by comparing these processes across a range of geologic settings and over several years, and 3)derive and automate indices of these domant processes for inclusion in a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based Decision Support System that will be used to predict the productivity and response of individual ponds and wetland complexes to disturbances within the landscape. 24 ponds were studied at the HEAD site which represent the nature of wetland types and surficial geology landforms typical of the Western Boreal Plain Ecozone showing that research results can be generalized to the entire region.
The results indicated that the greatest variability in wetland type and water quality does not occur on a regional scale, but rather occurs at a finer scale and is related to surficial geology (landform types) and wetland connectivity. The research led to the development of a conceptual landform classification framework for the delineation of hydrologic systems. The final report was entitled, “Hydrology, ecology and disturbance of western boreal wetlands (HEAD) Final Report (Year 4)”, by Dr. K.J. Devito submitted to FRIAA on July 18, 2005.