Consulting practice

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Formed in January 2002, SciTech provides responsive and effective analyses in support of scientific research projects and Environmental Assessments. Our services are used by the private sector, government, and academia to accelerate research efforts and environmental studies. Our goal is to improve the quality and timeliness of information provided to decision makers.

SciTech staff have actively participated in a variety of research projects, both academic and industrial. Our focus is on the aquatic environment, at scales ranging from streams to ocean basins. Our work encompasses three main areas: The spatio-temporal distribution of habitat, the ecology of marine animals, and marine classification.

Our studies of the ecology of marine mammals include status reports, diet studies, reviews, and impact assessments. We are committed to understanding and mitigating any potential effects on marine mammals as a result of human activity.

We are experts at developing predictive model of species distributions. We have described potential habitat for a wide range of species including:

  • Sea otters, northern abalone (DFO)
  • White sturgeon, rainbow trout, bull trout, and Chiselmouth chub (BC Ministry of Fisheries)
  • Steller sea lions, large baleen whales (blue, fin, sei, and humpback – UBC)
  • North Pacific Right whales (NPRB Grant)
  • Leatherback sea turtles

SciTech has also been closely involved in the Species At Risk (SARA) process for several marine species in Pacific Canada. This work has included preparation of Status Reports on sei and fin whales, and the SARA Recovery Strategy for blue, fin, and sei whales in Pacific Canada. Recently (2012), SciTech completed a CSAS report on potential habitat for Leatherback sea turtles.

Summary of past projects

 

Leatherback sea turtle Critical Habitat (2012)

Working with Fisheries and Oceans staff in Vancouver and Halifax, as well as collaborators from the Fisheries Centre at UBC and from the National Marine Fisheries Service, we created a model of potential foraging areas for leatherback sea turtles in Pacific Canadian waters. Because data are sparse, we developed a Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) model, using Chlorophyll-a concentrations as a proxy for concentration features, and low Eddy Kinetic Energy areas as a proxy for retention. The model will form the basis for recommendations of Critical Habitat designation for this species.

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A Habitat Template for the Pacific Canadian Shelf (2012)

On contract with the World Wildlife Fund, we created a comprehensive classification of the Pacific Canadian Shelf suitable for defining benthic biological units. Such a bioregionalisation is critical to support identification of Marine Protected Areas, analyses of cumulative benthic effects, and the development of species-habitat associations. Such efforts central to the sustainable use of marine resources.

We defined a Disturbance-Adversity surface based on a theory of niche adaptation originally articulated by Southwood (1977, 1988). The theory assumes that individuals adapt to their environment through functional adaptations, and that physical disturbance and ecological adversity (i.e., the challenges to making a living) are strong, independent, drivers of this adaptation. The theory therefore proposes that marine communities should be comprised of organisms functionally adapted to different ecological conditions – the Habitat Template – defined by the Disturbance-Adversity space. The template characterises benthic areas with similar driving forces that lead to particular life history characteristics or survival strategies without imposing uniformity on the traits or adaptations that support those strategies.

 

An ecological classification of nearshore ecosystems (2009-2012)

Finally done. The nearshore bottom patch model published for the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia, Canada.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0079661113000797

 

Defining EBSAs in the eastern North Pacific (2009-2010)
Marine Ecosystems and Aquaculture, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Nanaimo, British Columbia

Developed and applied an approach for Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) identification in Pacific Canadian waters and the oceanic Northeast Pacific based on the review of previously applied methods for identifying ecologically and biological sensitive marine areas (EBSAs) in Canadian waters.

Two related publications. One done, one in prep but almost there. First is the review of EBSA methods in Marine Policy (Gregr et. al. 2012 ), the second is work led by Rowenna where we demonstrate the robustness of bottom characterisation to spatial resolution. I wish she’d get that finished. Ian Perry supported this work.

 

 

Right whale (Eubalaena japonica) habitat in the North Pacific and Bering Sea (2006-2010)

North Pacific Research Board, Anchorage, Alaska

Grant awarded to SciTech Environmental Consulting to investigate the distribution of historic right whale sightings and develop several, multi-scale models of potential foraging habitat in the North Pacific. The study included research in right whale ecology, plankton ecology, and physical oceanography.

Steller Sea Lion – Fisheries Competition Study (2002-2008)
Marine Mammal Research Unit, Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia

Led investigations into the habitat of Steller sea lions and the potential for competition with commercial fisheries. The study included the development of a predictive model of Steller sea lion habitat; a review of prey distributions and the development of potential prey fields; quantification of the overlap between commercial fisheries and Steller sea lion habitat; and an assessment of the efficacy of fisheries regulations designed at reducing this overlap.

Benthic Classification of the northern British Columbia shelf (2005-2007)
NRCan and Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Assembled and derived the necessary data sets for a benthic classification of the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area in Pacific Canadian waters. Investigated the utility of available data sets, and proposed and implemented algorithms to classify the region according to Disturbance and Adversity characteristics.

Abalone Habitat Modeling (2004)
Marine Environmental Quality Section, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Nanaimo, British Columbia

Using the B.C. shorezone units, the B.C. ecounits classification, and other appropriate data sets, predicted high suitability areas for northern abalone throughoutBritish Columbia.

Statistical Methods for Fish Habitat Characterisation (2003)
Aquatics Information Branch, Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management, Victoria, British Columbia

Evaluated alternative methods to describe species-habitat relationships relating freshwater species inBritish Columbiato landscape (1:50,000) and stream (1:20,000) characteristics. The study reviewed statistical methods relating to ordination, regression and Bayesian methods to combine analyses at different resolutions and incorporating different data sets.

Marine Mammals in the Hecate Strait Ecosystem (2003)
Hecate Strait Ecosystem Project, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Nanaimo, British Columbia

Reviewed the abundance, diet, and habitat use of marine mammals in the waters offBritish Columbia’s north and central coasts. Includes, to the extent possible, estimates of population trends and exploitation from 1950 to present day, and a review of the ecology of the species in relation to their habitat.

Sea Otter Carrying Capacity Model (2002-2003) 
Conservation Biology, Stock Assessment, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Nanaimo, British Columbia

Developed an estimate of the carrying capacity (maximum population) of theBritish Columbiacoast for sea otters. The analysis included a measure of coastline complexity, a species-habitat relationship, and bootstrapped confidence intervals.

A Framework for Defining Marine Sensitive Areas (2002)
Decision Support Services, Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management, Victoria, British Columbia

Reviewed current approaches and formalized necessary definitions to establish a methodology for defining the spatial boundaries of Marine Sensitive Areas in the coastal waters ofBritish Columbia. The work will form the basis of a quantitative, repeatable, analytic approach to identifying sensitive marine areas for future protection.

Status Report of the Sei Whale (2002)
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), Canadian Wildlife Service, Ottawa, ON

Summarized the scientific, community and aboriginal knowledge of the northeastern Pacific and the northwestern Atlantic populations of the sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis).

 

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