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|Title:||Investigating the effects of water level on depth zones for macrophyte distribution and ecological index performance in coastal marshes of Georgian Bay, Lake Huron|
|Keywords:||water level, Georgian Bay, coastal wetland, vegetation, ecological index, slope, monitoring|
|Abstract:||Monitoring and maintaining the health of coastal wetlands is a global concern. The greatest threat to coastal wetlands in the Great Lakes Basin are anthropogenic removal and enrichment. The coastal wetlands in Georgian Bay are relatively undisturbed by humans, but face disturbance caused by reduced annual water-level fluctuations. Since these wetlands are critical habitat for many fish, bird, amphibian, and reptile species, many efforts to accurately monitor and maintain their health have been put into place. Recently, these wetlands have been experiencing an abrupt (~1 m) transition to higher water levels, following 14 years of sustained lows, which allowed trees and shrubs to invade the meadow vegetation zone. This sustained water-level pattern has never occurred in this region before, offering the unique opportunity to study wetlands undergoing a transition, where areas of 10+ years of upland plant species growth was inundated and became part of the wetland habitat. This thesis first investigates how this change in water level affects the distribution of meadow, emergent, floating, and submerged vegetation both in physical space and area. The second chapter of this thesis presents long-term water quality, macrophyte, and fish community monitoring using ecological indices. Water quality and macrophyte indices are robust enough to monitor wetlands undergoing a transition; however, issues arise in the calculation of the wetland fish index, as the changes in macrophyte distribution described in Chapter 1 impact the ability to replicate community sampling using fyke nets. The research done throughout this thesis is highly beneficial in adding to the limited knowledge of key factors impacting macrophyte community shifting. This work also identifies water-level scenarios where managers must adjust sampling protocols to succeed in effectively sampling wetland fish communities.|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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|Boyd_Lindsey_M_2017April_MSc.pdf||4.16 MB||Adobe PDF||View/Open|
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