There are three components to our research at the Hakai Beach Institute:
- Our own in-house long term ecological research (LTER) program, which we call Changing Landscape.
- Research by partners that directly complements Changing Landscape.
- Other related research on the Central Coast, such as that conducted via the Hakai Network and other vehicles.
The region around the Hakai Beach Institute on Calvert Island on the British Columbia Central Coast has historically been very difficult to study in detail because of its remote location, isolation and lack of supporting infrastructure. The advent of the Hakai Institute has changed all that. We believe that given our location, capabilities and interests, the role that best complements the capabilities of other research organizations is for us to act as a long term ecological research (LTER) site in the tradition of the LTER network, which was first established in the USA and has now been extended worldwide via the International LTER network to hundreds of sites in more than 30 countries.
The stated goals of a LTER site are as follows:
- Understanding: To understand a diverse array of ecosystems at multiple spatial and temporal scales.
- Synthesis: To create general knowledge through long-term, interdisciplinary research, synthesis of information, and development of theory.
- Information: To inform the LTER and broader scientific community by creating well designed and well documented databases.
- Legacies: To create a legacy of well-designed and documented long-term observations, experiments, and archives of samples and specimens for future generations.
- Education: To promote training, teaching, and learning about long-term ecological research and the Earth’s ecosystems, and to educate a new generation of scientists.
- Outreach: To reach out to the broader scientific community, natural resource managers, policymakers, and the general public by providing decision support, information, recommendations and the knowledge and capability to address complex environmental challenges.
The theme of the Hakai LTER is Changing Landscape. Human-induced climate change will obviously but one component of that theme, but that is by no means our sole interest. Our landscape was in flux long before humans developed the capacity to influence climate, and change has been particularly striking during the 15,000 years or so that the landscape has been recovering from the trauma of glaciation.
Research will be mainly concentrated near the Hakai Beach Institute facility on Calvert Island on the British Columbia Central Coast. The oceans and estuaries within the red boundary are relatively easy reach by our research vessels and therefore will receive particular attention for marine ecology and archaeology. Earth Sciences and Terrestrial Ecology will focus on those zones covered by LiDAR and other remote sensing (mainly Calvert and Hecate Islands). The terrain accessible by trails from the Hakai Beach Institute (roughly a 5 km radius) can be studied intensively.
Monitoring will continue year round, with an initial commitment to five years, with contemplation of an extension for five additional years. Work will include studies of what is known about the geological and ecological history of the locale, particularly over the 15,000 years since the last glacial maximum. Work will also include a detailed study of the impact of human habitation on the landscape during that time.
Work will potentially include study of any ecological or geological processes that are important to a general understanding of the dynamics of the locale. We will initially focus on the following research axes, each of which will be a constituted as a subprogram under the Changing Landscape umbrella:
- Earth Sciences
- Marine Ecology
- Terrestrial Ecology
- Data Management and GIS
Intensive Research Initiatives
Occasionally research topics emerge within the context of the LTER that stimulate sufficient interdisciplinary interest to justify launching an intensive research initiative. Such is the case with the so-called Bog Forest Initiative.