Long Term Ecological Research will naturally include study of the oceans that surround Hakai. We will likely focus on local phenomena in shallow inlets and estuaries, and on the intimate relationship between terrestrial ecosystems and the nearby oceans.
Topics chosen for initial study at Hakai:
- Primary Production in Kwakshua Channel
- Marine Ecosystem Mapping
- Microbial Food Web
Coordinated by Wayne Jacob (Hakai Institute).
Primary Production in Kwakshua Channel
Led by Brian Hunt (University of British Columbia).
From an marine perspective the most critical issue is the seasonal cycle of production, and nutrient use and regeneration. Coupling with the bog forest will be a key component of this through freshwater runoff (measured in situ by CTD, and correlated with weather station data and riverine output if collected by terrestrial teams) and nutrient inputs. What will be important here is how freshwater increases stratification (which can enhance production while nutrients last and inhibit production once nutrients are depleted), and if it actually contributes significantly to marine nutrient supply, which fuels production. From an ecosystem and food web perspective, my aim would be to first get a handle on the ecosystem fundamentals through at least one annual cycle of measurements before identifying key areas of focus for the future.
Rationale: Kwakshua Channel has ease of access, and the sampling stations span shallow nearshore habitat at the head of the channel to waters influenced by Fitz Hugh Sound. These standard sampling stations should be supplemented opportunistically with CTDs completed during boating activities in other areas. Preliminary analysis of time series data from 2010 and 2011 indicate that phytoplankton bloom timing was similar at the Pruth Bay Station and Rivers Inlet. A initial focus of the Hakai monitoring should be placing this location in the context of the Central Coast oceanographic environment, including: drivers of primary production; plankton biomass; bloom timing. This can be done through comparison with satellite data and samples collected by DFO.
Sampling will be divided into three temporal components:
- Daily sampling – daily sampling will focus on generating a time series of CTD data (temperature, salinity, depth, photosynthetically active radiation, turbidity, chlorophyll biomass from fluorescence, dissolved oxygen).
- Every 4 days – CTD (as part of the daily measurements); Nutrients (a key factor controlling primary production – what is the seasonal cycle of depletion and replenishment in Kwakshua Channel); chlorophyll biomass (necessary for calibrating the CTD fluorescence and monitoring phytoplankton community structure).
- Every 12 days – Particulate organic matter (POM) for stable isotope composition of the base of the food web (phytoplankton and microzooplankton); Zooplankton (community structure and size structure for monitoring zooplankton food web dynamics).
Sampling will be conducted at six locations in Kwakshua Channel.
Marine Ecosystem Mapping
Led by Wayne Jacob (Hakai Beach Institute).
We are beginning a detailed mapping of the shallow waters surrounding the Hakai Institute site, which will include a detailed study Kwakshua Channel, Meay Inlet, Choked Passage and North Beach, plus a more opportunistic study of selected sites on the exposed shoreline as far south as Seventh Beach. Techniques will include underwater video transects, dive studies, possibly near-shore bathymetry. Particular attention will be paid to ecological hotspots: eel and surf grass beds, kelp forests, coralline algae beds, etc. All information with be georeferenced.
Microbial Food Web
Project under discussion with Ken Lertzman (Simon Fraser University), Steve Hallam (University of British Columbia), Curtis Suttle (University of British Columbia) and others.
The waters of Kwakshua Channel are subject to chronic and acute (after rain storms) fluxes of water from the adjacent bog forests, which is laced with dissolved organic matter (DOM). We would predict therefore that the Microbial Food Web, which is based on marine bacteria and protists, would be active and important to the ecology of the channel. We are considering which aspects of these phenomena deserve attention and the techniques we might employ to study them.