Joel Heath (University of British Columbia) is the first Blue Box seminar speaker this semester. He will be discussing "Dynamics of winter sea ice and ecology in Hudson Bay: impacts of hydroelectric developments" on Tuesday, January 15 at 1:00 p.m. in SN 2025. The abstract of this talk is below.
Dynamic sea ice ecosystems in east Hudson Bay provide important winter habitats for wildlife that move between open water areas including polynyas and floe edges. Inuit have reported extensive changes to the structure and dynamics of these habitats associated with hydroelectric developments and climate related environmental change. The increasing frequency and severity of mass-mortality events of wildlife like the Common Eider is of particular concern, representing the proverbial 'canary in the coal min' for the changes occurring in this ecosystem. My research program investigates how landscape scale changes in sea ice and oceanographic conditions influence the ecology of these habitats. I combine Inuit knowledge, oceanographic deployments, remote sensing and quantitative ecological approaches to understand these changes. Based on long term winter field studies, I have developed a series of quantitative dynamic models that provide a mechanistic understanding of winter ecology in these habitats that can be linked to landscape and population dynamics. I will present a summary of physical and biological changes observed by Inuit and academic research, demonstrate how quantitative ecological models can help understand current and future impacts of environmental change, and propose future directions for expanding our community based monitoring programs to other regions in the eastern Arctic, inculding the development of positive working relationships with the hydroelectric industry.