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Peters D.L.,Environment Canada | Baird D.J.,University of New Brunswick | Monk W.A.,University of New Brunswick | Armanini D.G.,University of New Brunswick | Armanini D.G.,Prothea srl
Journal of Environmental Quality | Year: 2012

Agricultural land use can place heavy demands on regional water resources, strongly influencing the quantity and timing of water flows needed to sustain natural ecosystems. The effects of agricultural practices on streamflow conditions are multifaceted, as they also contribute to the severity of impacts arising from other stressors within the river ecosystem. Thus, river scientists need to determine the quantity of water required to sustain important aquatic ecosystem components and ecological services, to support wise apportionment of water for agricultural use. It is now apparent that arbitrarily defined minimum flows are inadequate for this task because the complex habitat requirements of the biota, which underpin the structure and function of a river ecosystem, are strongly influenced by predictable temporal variations in flow. We present an alternative framework for establishing a first-level, regional ecological instream flow needs standard based on adoption of the Indicators of Hydrologic Alteration/Range of Variability Approach as a broadly applicable hydrological assessment tool, coupling this to the Canadian Ecological Flow Index which assesses ecological responses to hydrological alteration. By explicitly incorporating a new field-based ecological assessment tool for small agricultural streams, we provide a necessary verification of altered hydrology that is broadly applicable within Canada and essential to ensure the continuous feedback between the application of flow management criteria and ecological condition. © 2012 by the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America.


Armanini D.G.,University of New Brunswick | Armanini D.G.,Prothea srl | Monk W.A.,University of New Brunswick | Carter L.,Environment Canada | And 2 more authors.
Environmental Monitoring and Assessment | Year: 2013

Evaluation of the ecological status of river sites in Canada is supported by building models using the reference condition approach. However, geography, data scarcity and inter-operability constraints have frustrated attempts to monitor national-scale status and trends. This issue is particularly true in Atlantic Canada, where no ecological assessment system is currently available. Here, we present a reference condition model based on the River Invertebrate Prediction and Classification System approach with regional-scale applicability. To achieve this, we used biological monitoring data collected from wadeable streams across Atlantic Canada together with freely available, nationally consistent geographic information system (GIS) environmental data layers. For the first time, we demonstrated that it is possible to use data generated from different studies, even when collected using different sampling methods, to generate a robust predictive model. This model was successfully generated and tested using GIS-based rather than local habitat variables and showed improved performance when compared to a null model. In addition, ecological quality ratio data derived from the model responded to observed stressors in a test dataset. Implications for future large-scale implementation of river biomonitoring using a standardised approach with global application are presented. © 2012 The Author(s).


Armanini D.G.,University of New Brunswick | Armanini D.G.,Prothea srl | Monk W.A.,University of New Brunswick | Tenenbaum D.E.,University of Massachusetts Boston | And 2 more authors.
Ecohydrology | Year: 2012

Anthropogenic pressure on flow regimes has been recognized as a significant threat to the health of rivers in Canada and elsewhere. Yet while we know that the historical hydrological conditions prevailing at river sites can be assigned to runoff regime types, the implications of this hydrological structure on biological community composition have been poorly studied. Here we support the improvement of guidelines for flow management by exploring the relationship between biota and runoff regime types for selected rivers in British Columbia. One thousand six hundred biological samples were extracted from Environment Canada's Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) database and a matching procedure was undertaken to associate biological samples to the long-term hydrometric monitoring stations stored in the HYDAT National Water Data Archive. A practical approach for spatial matching of hydrometric and biomonitoring sites was presented, which permitted matching of a sufficient number of samples to assess the structure of biological communities across the four regime types identified. By examining multivariate and univariate biological descriptors, including the recently developed Canadian Ecological Flow Index, differences in macroinvertebrate community composition between the runoff regimes were observed. In conclusion, we have developed a practical approach to match hydrological and biomonitoring data and we have forwarded guidelines on how to improve integration between hydrometric and biomonitoring networks. Moreover, we have provided the first ecological validation of runoff regime types in Canada, confirming the need to account for antecedent hydrological conditions in the assessment of ecological quality using biomonitoring data. © 2011 Crown in the right of Canada. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


Holmes R.,University of Western Ontario | Armanini D.G.,University of Western Ontario | Armanini D.G.,Prothea srl | Yates A.G.,University of Western Ontario
Environmental Management | Year: 2016

Best management practices (BMPs) are increasingly being promoted as a solution to the potentially adverse effects agriculture can have on aquatic systems. However, the ability of BMPs to improve riverine systems continues to be questioned due to equivocal empirical evidence linking BMP use with improved stream conditions, particularly in regard to ecological conditions. Explicitly viewing BMP location in relation to hydrological pathways may, however, assist in establishing stronger ecological linkages. The goal of this study was to assess the association between water chemistry, benthic macroinvertebrate community structure, and the number and location of agricultural BMPs in a catchment. Macroinvertebrate and water samples were collected in 30 small (<12 km2) catchments exhibiting gradients of BMP use and location in the Grand River Watershed, Southern Ontario, Canada. Stepwise regression analysis revealed that concentrations of most stream nutrients declined in association with greater numbers of BMPs and particularly when BMPs were located in hydrologically connected areas. However, BMPs were significantly associated with only one metric (%EPT) describing macroinvertebrate community structure. Furthermore, variance partitioning analysis indicated that less than 5 % of the among site variation in the macroinvertebrate community could be attributed to BMPs. Overall, the implemented BMPs appear to be achieving water quality improvement goals but spatial targeting of specific BMP types may allow management agencies to attain further water quality improvements more efficiently. Mitigation and rehabilitation measures beyond the BMPs assessed in this study may be required to meet goals of enhanced ecological condition. © 2016 Springer Science+Business Media New York


Parks D.H.,Dalhousie University | Parks D.H.,University of Queensland | Mankowski T.,Dalhousie University | Zangooei S.,Dalhousie University | And 6 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

GenGIS is free and open source software designed to integrate biodiversity data with a digital map and information about geography and habitat. While originally developed with microbial community analyses and phylogeography in mind, GenGIS has been applied to a wide range of datasets. A key feature of GenGIS is the ability to test geographic axes that can correspond to routes of migration or gradients that influence community similarity. Here we introduce GenGIS version 2, which extends the linear gradient tests introduced in the first version to allow comprehensive testing of all possible linear geographic axes. GenGIS v2 also includes a new plugin framework that supports the development and use of graphically driven analysis packages: initial plugins include implementations of linear regression and the Mantel test, calculations of alpha-diversity (e.g., Shannon Index) for all samples, and geographic visualizations of dissimilarity matrices. We have also implemented a recently published method for biomonitoring reference condition analysis (RCA), which compares observed species richness and diversity to predicted values to determine whether a given site has been impacted. The newest version of GenGIS supports vector data in addition to raster files. We demonstrate the new features of GenGIS by performing a full gradient analysis of an Australian kangaroo apple data set, by using plugins and embedded statistical commands to analyze human microbiome sample data, and by applying RCA to a set of samples from Atlantic Canada. GenGIS release versions, tutorials and documentation are freely available at http://kiwi.cs.dal.ca/GenGIS, and source code is available at https://github.com/beiko-lab/gengis. © 2013 Parks et al.

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