SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: British Columbia

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Scientific management of wildlife requires confronting the complexities of natural and social systems. Uncertainty poses a central problem. Whereas the importance of considering uncertainty has been widely discussed, studies of the effects of unaddressed uncertainty on real management systems have been rare. We examined the effects of outcome uncertainty and components of biological uncertainty on hunt management performance, illustrated with grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) in British Columbia, Canada. We found that both forms of uncertainty can have serious impacts on management performance. Outcome uncertainty alone - discrepancy between expected and realized mortality levels - led to excess mortality in 19% of cases (population-years) examined. Accounting for uncertainty around estimated biological parameters (i.e., biological uncertainty) revealed that excess mortality might have occurred in up to 70% of cases. We offer a general method for identifying targets for exploited species that incorporates uncertainty and maintains the probability of exceeding mortality limits below specified thresholds. Setting targets in our focal system using this method at thresholds of 25% and 5% probability of overmortality would require average target mortality reductions of 47% and 81%, respectively. Application of our transparent and generalizable framework to this or other systems could improve management performance in the presence of uncertainty.

Concepts: Hunting, British Columbia, Bear, Montana, Yellowstone National Park, Bears, Grizzly Bear, Banff National Park

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The Columbia River and its tributaries provide essential spawning and rearing habitat for many salmonid species, including Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). Chinook salmon were historically abundant throughout the basin and Native Americans in the region relied heavily on these fish for thousands of years. Following the arrival of Europeans in the 1800s, salmon in the basin experienced broad declines linked to overfishing, water diversion projects, habitat destruction, connectivity reduction, introgression with hatchery-origin fish, and hydropower development. Despite historical abundance, many native salmonids are now at risk of extinction. Research and management related to Chinook salmon is usually explored under what are termed “the four H’s”: habitat, harvest, hatcheries, and hydropower; here we explore a fifth H, history. Patterns of prehistoric and contemporary mitochondrial DNA variation from Chinook salmon were analyzed to characterize and compare population genetic diversity prior to recent alterations and, thus, elucidate a deeper history for this species. A total of 346 ancient and 366 contemporary samples were processed during this study. Species was determined for 130 of the ancient samples and control region haplotypes of 84 of these were sequenced. Diversity estimates from these 84 ancient Chinook salmon were compared to 379 contemporary samples. Our analysis provides the first direct measure of reduced genetic diversity for Chinook salmon from the ancient to the contemporary period, as measured both in direct loss of mitochondrial haplotypes and reductions in haplotype and nucleotide diversity. However, these losses do not appear equal across the basin, with higher losses of diversity in the mid-Columbia than in the Snake subbasin. The results are unexpected, as the two groups were predicted to share a common history as parts of the larger Columbia River Basin, and instead indicate that Chinook salmon in these subbasins may have divergent demographic histories.

Concepts: DNA, Salmon, Chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus, Salmonidae, Columbia River, Columbia Basin, British Columbia

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Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii), a foundation of coastal social-ecological systems, is in decline throughout much of its range. We assembled data on fish bones from 171 archaeological sites from Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington to provide proxy measures of past herring distribution and abundance. The dataset represents 435,777 fish bones, dating throughout the Holocene, but primarily to the last 2,500 y. Herring is the single-most ubiquitous fish taxon (99% ubiquity) and among the two most abundant taxa in 80% of individual assemblages. Herring bones are archaeologically abundant in all regions, but are superabundant in the northern Salish Sea and southwestern Vancouver Island areas. Analyses of temporal variability in 50 well-sampled sites reveals that herring exhibits consistently high abundance (>20% of fish bones) and consistently low variance (<10%) within the majority of sites (88% and 96%, respectively). We pose three alternative hypotheses to account for the disjunction between modern and archaeological herring populations. We reject the first hypothesis that the archaeological data overestimate past abundance and underestimate past variability. We are unable to distinguish between the second two hypotheses, which both assert that the archaeological data reflect a higher mean abundance of herring in the past, but differ in whether variability was similar to or less than that observed recently. In either case, sufficient herring was consistently available to meet the needs of harvesters, even if variability is damped in the archaeological record. These results provide baseline information prior to herring depletion and can inform modern management.

Concepts: Scientific method, Statistics, Null hypothesis, Archaeology, British Columbia, Herring, Pacific herring, Archaeological site

47

Humans use a variety of deliberate means to modify biologically rich environs in pursuit of resource stability and predictability. Empirical evidence suggests that ancient hunter-gatherer populations engineered ecological niches to enhance the productivity and availability of economically significant resources. An archaeological excavation of a 3800-year-old wetland garden in British Columbia, Canada, provides the first direct evidence of an engineered feature designed to facilitate wild plant food production among mid-to-late Holocene era complex fisher-hunter-gatherers of the Northwest Coast. This finding provides an example of environmental, economic, and sociopolitical coevolutionary relationships that are triggered when humans manipulate niche environs.

Concepts: Natural environment, Economics, Pacific Northwest, Archaeology, British Columbia, Vancouver, Excavation, Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast

38

Studies have demonstrated ways in which climate-related shifts in the distributions and relative abundances of marine species are expected to alter the dynamics and catch potential of global fisheries. While these studies assess impacts on large-scale commercial fisheries, few efforts have been made to quantitatively project impacts on small-scale subsistence and commercial fisheries that are economically, socially and culturally important to many coastal communities. This study uses a dynamic bioclimate envelope model to project scenarios of climate-related changes in the relative abundance, distribution and richness of 98 exploited marine fishes and invertebrates of commercial and cultural importance to First Nations in coastal British Columbia, Canada. Declines in abundance are projected for most of the sampled species under both the lower (Representative Concentration Pathway [RCP] 2.6) and higher (RCP 8.5) emission scenarios (-15.0% to -20.8%, respectively), with poleward range shifts occurring at a median rate of 10.3 to 18.0 km decade-1 by 2050 relative to 2000. While a cumulative decline in catch potential is projected coastwide (-4.5 to -10.7%), estimates suggest a strong positive correlation between the change in relative catch potential and latitude, with First Nations' territories along the northern and central coasts of British Columbia likely to experience less severe declines than those to the south. Furthermore, a strong negative correlation is projected between latitude and the number of species exhibiting declining abundance. These trends are shown to be robust to alternative species distribution models. This study concludes by discussing corresponding management challenges that are likely to be encountered under climate change, and by highlighting the value of joint-management frameworks and traditional fisheries management approaches that could aid in offsetting impacts and developing site-specific mitigation and adaptation strategies derived from local fishers' knowledge.

Concepts: Climate, Fisheries, Abundance of the chemical elements, Overfishing, British Columbia, Species distribution, Fisheries management, Fishery

33

In 2007, the province of British Columbia implemented incentive payments to primary care physicians for the provision of comprehensive, continuous, guideline-informed care for patients with 2 or more chronic conditions. We examined the impact of this program on primary care access and continuity, rates of hospital admission and costs.

Concepts: Medicine, Hospital, Physician, Calculus, Derivative, Provinces and territories of Canada, Canada, British Columbia

31

Home birth is available to women in Canada who meet eligibility requirements for low risk status after assessment by regulated midwives. While UK researchers have reported lower costs associated with planned home birth, there have been no published studies of the costs of home versus hospital birth in Canada.

Concepts: Childbirth, United Kingdom, Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Provinces and territories of Canada, Canada, German language, British Columbia, British Empire

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Well-functioning food webs are fundamental for sustaining rivers as ecosystems and maintaining associated aquatic and terrestrial communities. The current emphasis on restoring habitat structure-without explicitly considering food webs-has been less successful than hoped in terms of enhancing the status of targeted species and often overlooks important constraints on ecologically effective restoration. We identify three priority food web-related issues that potentially impede successful river restoration: uncertainty about habitat carrying capacity, proliferation of chemicals and contaminants, and emergence of hybrid food webs containing a mixture of native and invasive species. Additionally, there is the need to place these food web considerations in a broad temporal and spatial framework by understanding the consequences of altered nutrient, organic matter (energy), water, and thermal sources and flows, reconnecting critical habitats and their food webs, and restoring for changing environments. As an illustration, we discuss how the Columbia River Basin, site of one of the largest aquatic/riparian restoration programs in the United States, would benefit from implementing a food web perspective. A food web perspective for the Columbia River would complement ongoing approaches and enhance the ability to meet the vision and legal obligations of the US Endangered Species Act, the Northwest Power Act (Fish and Wildlife Program), and federal treaties with Northwest Indian Tribes while meeting fundamental needs for improved river management.

Concepts: Ecology, Ecosystem, Endangered species, Mississippi River, Columbia River, Columbia Basin, British Columbia, Rivers

26

Human-wildlife conflicts impose considerable costs to people and wildlife worldwide. Most research focuses on proximate causes, offering limited generalizable understanding of ultimate drivers. We tested three competing hypotheses (problem individuals, regional population saturation, limited food supply) that relate to underlying processes of human-grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) conflict, using data from British Columbia, Canada, between 1960-2014. We found most support for the limited food supply hypothesis: in bear populations that feed on spawning salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.), the annual number of bears/km(2) killed due to conflicts with humans increased by an average of 20% (6-32% [95% CI]) for each 50% decrease in annual salmon biomass. Furthermore, we found that across all bear populations (with or without access to salmon), 81% of attacks on humans and 82% of conflict kills occurred after the approximate onset of hyperphagia (July 1(st)), a period of intense caloric demand. Contrary to practices by many management agencies, conflict frequency was not reduced by hunting or removal of problem individuals. Our finding that a marine resource affects terrestrial conflict suggests that evidence-based policy for reducing harm to wildlife and humans requires not only insight into ultimate drivers of conflict, but also management that spans ecosystem and jurisdictional boundaries.

Concepts: Hunting, World population, British Columbia, Bear, American Black Bear, Brown Bear, Bears, Grizzly Bear