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Towards a holistic assessment of intertidal ecosystem health Ogden, Donna Lesley 2005

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TOWARDS AN HOLISTIC ASSESSMENT OF INTERTIDAL ECOSYSTEM H E A L T H by Donna Lesley Ogden B.Sc, The University of Victoria, 1997 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL F U L F I L L M E N T OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE in THE F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES (Resource Management and Environmental Studies) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH C O L U M B I A August 2005 © Donna Lesley Ogden, 2005 Abstract A diagnostic tool of intertidal ecosystem health was created and tested at a study area in southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The diagnostic tool was created to promote a more holistic approach to intertidal ecosystem health assessment, in addition to being simple, fast, inexpensive, and accessible. The diagnostic tool was generated after 6 coastal zone managers were interviewed and data were gathered on current practices and challenges in ecosystem health assessment. Based on a conceptual model of intertidal health drawing on the metaphor of the ecosystem as a household, the diagnostic tool was designed with respondents' comments in mind. The tool is composed of a series of questions that ask the practitioner to consider and judge the essential components of, and their interactions within, an intertidal ecosystem to assess the overall health of a specific site. To test the diagnostic tool, species and abundance data were collected from the intertidal zone in the Cordova Bay area, during the summer of 2004. The survey methodology followed the Shorekeepers' protocol for monitoring intertidal habitat in Canada's Pacific Waters (Jamieson et al., 1999). The study area has known impacts primarily from non-point sources of pollution and secondarily, from recreational use. Three sites within the Cordova Bay study area were chosen to reflect the differing severity of impacts. A high impact site, located directly at the mouth of Douglas Creek, carries a large amount of pollutants from urban run-off. A low impact site was chosen several hundred metres away from the mouth of the creek, with a moderately impacted site in between the sites with high and low levels of impact. The field data were used to test and evaluate the diagnostic tool based on its ability to meet the above criteria (holistic approach, simple, fast, inexpensive, accessible). The results indicate that the diagnostic tool is an appropriate first step in working towards an holistic assessment of intertidal ecosystem health. Implications of this research for integrated coastal zone management and future research are discussed in the final chapter of this paper. Table of Contents Abstract ii Table of Contents i i i List of Tables v List of Figures vi Acknowledgements vii Chapter 1. Introduction: Ecosystem Health in Intertidal Areas 1 1.1 Research rationale 1 1.2 Research questions 16 1.3 Outline of chapters in this thesis 16 Chapter 2. Methods: Process of Diagnostic Tool Development 18 2.1 General overview of research methods 18 2.2 Qualitative research: Interviews of Coastal Zone Managers 19 2.3 Interview results 23 2.4 Definition of ecosystem health 26 2.5 Model/Metaphor of ecosystem health 29 2.6 Tool for Intertidal Ecosystem Health Diagnosis 36 2.7 Creating the evaluation or scoring for the diagnostic tool 40 Chapter 3. Application of the Diagnostic Tool 42 3.1 Testing the diagnostic tool 42 3.2 Quantitative field methods: general 42 3.3 Study Area 42 3.4 Study Sites: Human impacts and relevant features 45 3.5 Intertidal survey and mapping protocol 51 3.6 Bird surveys 52 3.7 Using the diagnostic tool at Cordova Bay study sites 53 3.8 TIEHD test results in Cordova Bay 54 3.9 Interpretation of assessment results for Cordova Bay 55 Chapter 4. Diagnostic Tool Discussion and Conclusions 58 4.1 Strengths and weaknesses of the diagnostic tool 58 4.2 Potential uses and next steps for the diagnostic tool 70 Chapter 5. Summary and Recommendations 73 5.1 Summary of research 73 5.2 Implications for Coastal Zone Management 77 5.3 Implications and recommendations for future research 78 Literature Cited 80 Appendices 86 Appendix A: Letter of permission for interviews with Coastal Zone Managers 87 Appendix B: Certificate of Approval from U B C Behavioural Research Ethics Board 88 Appendix C: Tool for Intertidal Ecosystem Health Diagnosis with References 89 Appendix D: Tool for Intertidal Ecosystem health Diagnosis - Ready to copy and use format 92-List of Tables 2.1 Interview Questions for Coastal Zone Managers 21 2.2 Tool for Intertidal Ecosystem Health Diagnosis 37 2.3 Evaluation Key for the diagnostic tool 41 3.1 Impacts at each Cordova Bay Study Site 45 3.2 Breakdown of assessment scores by category for Cordova Bay 55 4.1 Summary of strengths and weaknesses of TIEHD 58 v List of Figures 2.1 Model of a Household with essential components 2.2 Conceptual Model of Intertidal Ecosystem 3.1 Map of general location of study area 3.2 Map of study site locations Acknowledgements The following people were integral to the academic side of the development and completion of this thesis: « My committee: Dr. Mike Healey, Dr. Les Lavkulich, Dr. Rob DeWreede. Special thanks to Dr. Rob DeWreede who was my main academic support and supervisor. The following organizations and individuals provided excellent support in a variety of ways at my request: • The Corporation of the District of Saanich (Peter Sparanese, Alex Johnson, Adrianne Pollard) • Fisheries and Oceans Canada • Seachange Marine Conservation Society (Nikki Wright) • Doug Biffard • Georgia Strait Alliance (Sarah Verstagen) • Mannie Cooper • Simone Kuklinski and the St. Michaels' University College Shorekeepers • Corrine Michel • Rob Dukelow • Ruth-Ann • Bob Bridgeman (Friends of Mt. Douglas Park Society) • Dr. Jackie Alder • John Roe • Dr. Mary Lou Reilly • Dr. Karen Quinn • Caroline Gravel, M . A . • Sarah Cook, M.Sc. Thank you to all of the above people who helped me to see this research through to the end. Chapter 1. Introduction: Ecosystem Health in Intertidal Areas 1.1 Research Rationale The place where the land and ocean meet is an area that is teeming with life. It is an ecosystem in which both the land and sea have influence. For hundreds of years the ocean has been considered a vast entity, so resilient as not to be at risk from human activities such as urbanization, pollution or harvesting. Currently, this myth is increasingly under question. In a time when humans are considering their role in influencing the Earth and its processes, many scientists and environmental managers are considering how the world ocean and coastal ecosystems can be better managed. It is the goal of this body of research to contribute to the improvement of coastal zone management and help lay to rest the myth of the limitless ocean. A concern about human impacts on coastal ecosystems and the potential effects on the functioning of these systems has triggered the following research. "Coastal zones are among the most highly productive, densely populated and valuable ecosystems on the Earth" (Brown et al, 2002, p.2). According to Kay and Alder (1999, p. xiv), coastlines are the world's most important and intensely used of all areas settled by humans. An estimated 50 to 70% of the estimated 5.3 billion people alive in 1999 lived in coastal zones (Kay and Alder, 1999, p.xiv). Human demands on coastal resources are often intensely competitive as well. Currently, new approaches for dealing with these conflicting demands in coastal areas are being developed and applied through coastal zone management (CZM). Coastal zone management is defined as: "multi-sectoral management focused upon both development and conservation issues within narrow, geographically delineated stretches of coastline and near-shore waters" (Brown et al, 2001, p. 37). 1 While it may be difficult to aid coastal stakeholders in making more ecologically sound decisions, methods of assessing coastal health can, at the very least, ensure that decision-makers are accurately informed of the current state of the coastal area in question. This research paper focuses on the intertidal zone; that area that is defined as the area between the lowest low tide and the highest high tide on the edge of the ocean. There are a number of ecosystems included within this general area of the intertidal zone such as rocky shores, sandy beaches, and mudflats (Lalli and Parsons, 1993, p. 202). The intertidal zone is influenced by a very unique set of physical forces and widely varying conditions (i.e.: temperature, salinity, and exposure to air). This is the most visible and accessible marine area, yet we tend not to pay much attention to intertidal ecosystems, perhaps because in the past we did not fully recognize the role that these ribbons of life play in the greater ocean environment. Intertidal areas provide important nursery and feeding grounds for juvenile invertebrates and fish, spawning habitat for a number of fish species, and essential feeding and resting spots for migratory and resident bird species (Lalli and Parsons, 1993, p.202). Healthy intertidal habitat contributes to the productivity and diversity of marine species in coastal areas, in addition to providing feeding grounds for many land mammals (e.g.: mink, skunk, deer, raccoons, bears) (Lalli and Parsons, 1993, p.202). The current challenge is to decide what a healthy intertidal ecosystem looks like and how that state of health can be assessed and maintained. The Oceans Act, enacted in 1997, provides the legislation that allows Fisheries and Oceans Canada to undertake initiatives in the areas of Marine Ecosystem Health (MEH) (Envirologic Consulting, 1999.p.l). Although the Oceans Act does not define M E H , the following definition has been developed to guide M E H activities within the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada: "An ecosystem can be considered healthy if it appears as a healthy integrated whole. Put another way, the term ecosystem health describes desired ecosystem conditions. " (Envirologic Consulting, 1999. p.4). Promoting and 2 maintaining the sustainability of marine ecosystems is the ultimate goal of the Oceans Act, and therefore sustainability is considered another definition of M E H . The Oceans Act also requires that the management of marine ecosystems be accomplished using an ecosystem approach. This approach recognizes the inter-relationships among the biophysical attributes of an ecosystem, the economy and society (Envirologic Consulting, 1999. p.4). The ecosystem approach requires an integrated, holistic way of understanding and managing marine ecosystems that is supported by the relatively recent research in ecosystem health. According to Rapport et al. (2000, p.488), ecosystem health "integrates socio-economic, biological and health concepts and values within a holistic point of view" and was regarded as a new direction for ecosystem management at the start of the new millennium. While there is a large community of researchers working towards understanding and measuring ecosystem health (Rapport, 1997; Costanza et ai, 1992; Rapport et al, 2000), the focus in the past has been largely on terrestrial ecosystems. There are significant differences between marine and terrestrial environments (Healey and Paisley, 2002). The fluidity of marine ecosystems means that a large portion of the system is always moving and therefore very susceptible to long-range sources of pollution. The marine environment has the third dimension of depth which is much more difficult to access without highly specialized equipment. Without being able to fully see marine ecosystems, people have less of a perception of the whole system and science in general has less of an understanding of this as well. Finally, the marine environment is a common property resource without clear jurisdictional boundaries, and therefore extremely vulnerable to over-harvesting and exploitation. As a result of these differences, there are many problems inherent in using terrestrial ecosystem management techniques to study and manage marine ecosystems. Although research in marine ecosystem health has recently become popular, there are still relatively few studies on which to build. In order to draw conclusions about the state of marine ecosystems, the use of indicators of various characteristics related to the marine environment has become a common 3 practice and is the goal of many organizations worldwide (Ward, 1997, p.l). Although indicators by nature provide a reductionist approach to the assessment of ecosystem health (Dowlatabadi, pers. comm.), it may be possible to find one or a suite of indicators that reflect the health of an ecosystem in an integrated, holistic way. For example: management of marine fisheries has been largely based on the measurement of Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE) as an indicator of population health and the guiding measure to set harvest limits. This means that as long as the CPUE remained stable or increased each year, fisheries scientists did not reduce harvest limits. We now understand that this one indicator is too simplified and focused to allow a broadened, holistic assessment of marine fishery health. We know that the CPUE increased or remained stable for many years while the technology we used to find and capture fish became more sophisticated and efficient, meanwhile fish stocks were being harvested near the point of no return. Pitcher (2001, p.601) warns; "harvest limits that appear safe by single species evaluation can engender ecosystem changes that are hard to reverse." While fish stocks have been managed poorly and through single-species indicators in the past, marine communities as a whole have not been managed using any specific or consistent criteria at all. Overexploitation of marine species due to fishing practices was the first major human disturbance to coastal ecosystems. According to Jackson et al. (2001, p.629), there is evidence from historical records that strongly suggest; "major structural and functional changes due to overfishing occurred worldwide in coastal marine ecosystems over many centuries". Changes in structure and function occurred as early as the late aboriginal and early colonial stages, but were nowhere near the scale of changes that we are seeing more recently. A collapse in a number of key marine systems has already occurred as a direct or indirect result of overfishing (Jackson et al. 2001, p.629). These systems include: kelp forests of the Pacific, coral reefs, tropical and subtropical seagrass beds, and estuaries. When a marine ecosystem collapses, the ramifications go far beyond the loss of fish stocks. Ecological losses within the ecosystem translate into economic losses for adjacent communities that can quickly lead to severe social crises. The collapse of Northern Cod 4 on the east coast of Canada is a prime example of the severity of the impacts of overfishing at the ecological, economic, and social levels (Glavin, 1996, p. 8). In order to guard against future disasters in the marine environment, it is necessary to use a number of indicators of marine health that, together reflect the health of the whole system, not just single species. For example, the Ministry for the Environment of New Zealand (2001) created a list of Environmental Performance Indicators made up entirely of indicators that have been 'confirmed' for the marine environment. Indicators were labeled 'confirmed' by the Ministry for the Environment of New Zealand through a scientific and peer review process that functioned to evaluate, modify and then approve a list of potential indicators to assess the state of marine environments. The document refers to these indicators as "signposts for sustainability", helping New Zealand's coastal zone managers monitor marine ecosystems and evaluate environmental health with respect to sustainability by combining indicators of physical, biological, human use and values. Using Fisheries and Oceans Canada's definition of a healthy marine ecosystem as an integrated whole, or as sustainable, the search for marine environmental health indicators is given a focus. The key to promoting and maintaining sustainable ecosystems lies in allowing natural systems to maintain their resilience. Ecological resilience is defined by Gunderson and Holling (2002, p.27) as a quality that involves persistence, adaptiveness, variability, and unpredictability. This type of resilience is measured by the magnitude of disturbance that can be absorbed before the system changes its fundamental structure. While it is difficult in practice to measure resilience directly, it may be possible to measure resilience indirectly. A resilient system is one that maintains a given state when subject to disturbance (Gunderson and Pritchard, 2002, p.52). This can occur only when a system has all of the essential structures, functions and subsequent processes that make up the resilience mechanisms by which an ecosystem can absorb disturbance (Gunderson and Pritchard, 2002, p.54). These essential structures, functions, and processes include: productivity, food web interactions, nutrient cycling, species diversity, redundancy, keystone species, spatial heterogeneity of habitat, and respiration, to name a few. 5 Natural ecosystems are dynamic, constantly cycling chemicals in the form of energy, minerals and nutrients. They function via multiple feedback loops that allow for fluctuations in the chemistry, biology, and physics without changing the system as a whole (Odum, 1971, p.35). These feedback loops are present in the biological structure of an ecosystem, in the individuals and in communities (Odum, 1971, p.33). In theory, the greater the biological variability in the system, the greater the chance that potential imbalances will be mitigated by one species or another and therefore the current state is maintained despite disturbance. This is due to the greater redundancy in systems with higher variability. Although some populations within the ecosystem may be affected, the overall system functioning is not. According to Gunderson et al. (2000, p.388):"the consequence of all that variety is that the species combine to form an overlapping set of reinforcing influences that are less like the redundancy of engineered devices and more like portfolio diversity strategies of investors". According to Raghukumar and Anil (2003, p.884): "ecosystem functioning is dictated to a large degree by biodiversity". Current research is increasingly supporting the theory that greater species diversity provides a greater chance for resilience to stress in an ecosystem (Gunderson and Holling, 2002; Raghukumar and Anil , 2003). "Diversity is a basic property of life. It is clearly displayed at all levels of organization in undisturbed natural ecosystems and is usually considered essential for the survival of these ecosystems. It provides the variability needed to cope with changes implicit in nature" (Ray and Grassle, 1991, p. 453) However, Pimm and Hyman (1987, p. 91) argue: "there are so many factors that theoretically can affect the relationship between stress, resilience, and variability that we are unable to draw any definite conclusions about the form that this relationship takes". Using research on the effect of fish harvesting on resilience as studied by a number of fisheries ecologists and ecosystem models, Pimm and Hyman (1987, p.89) point out that although fish mortality increases with fishing intensity, there are mechanisms within the system to compensate for this increase. These mechanisms include; increased prerecruit 6 survival, decrease in the age of sexual maturity, and an increase in the number of eggs per unit of weight of females. This means that resilience of harvested populations could appear to increase, i f only temporarily, to compensate for an increase in mortality. Gunderson et al. (2000), Gunderson and Pritchard (2002), and Gunderson and Holling (2002) further discuss ecosystem resilience, although there is still a great deal more research required to fully understand resilience at the ecosystem level. In theory, although some ecosystem structures may change due to various stresses, a resilient ecosystem will maintain its functions (e.g.: primary productivity, nutrient cycling) despite these stresses. There has been little research using marine ecosystems in particular to test this hypothesis (Raghukumar and Anil , 2003). Human impacts affect marine environments differently than they affect the terrestrial environment. The fluid nature of marine ecosystems means that pollutants are less easily contained and traced, diseases are more easily spread, and therefore legislation is more difficult to enforce and mitigation an even greater challenge. In addition, the sheer size of marine areas (with the added dimension of depth) means that management activities in marine ecosystems can be more complex and challenging to plan and carry out than in terrestrial ecosystems (Brown et al, 2001, p. 16). According to Kay and Alder (1999, p.8), management becomes even more difficult in coastal areas when major administrative boundaries bisect coastal areas and divide the management of land from that of the ocean. Here on the coast of British Columbia, the main threats to the health of our shores are: 1) human population growth and the resultant increase in contaminant loading in coastal areas via urban run-off and sewage systems; 2) habitat loss or damage due to urbanization; 3) industrial development and the long-term legacy that historic industrial use has left in coastal areas. Climate change is also considered a threat to our coastal ecosystems and is expected to have a significant impact on our coast in the next century (Coastal shore stewardship, 2003, p.5). 7 Run-off from urban areas is a particular threat to the shorelines onto which it drains, and is a leading source of non-point source pollution. It is well-known that "pollution coming off the land and entering storm drains, watercourses and eventually the marine environment has the potential to impact public health and the environment" (Cameron and Mount, 2004). Stormwater sampling programs monitor water quality for public health and safety as well as environmental health purposes by testing for fecal coliforms and contaminated sediments. Fecal coliform bacteria include Escherichia coli and similar bacteria found in the digestive tract of warm-blooded animals such as humans and livestock. The presence.of fecal coliforms in water indicate fecal pollution and potentially adverse contamination by disease-causing organisms. Although high levels of fecal coliform bacteria themselves are not a threat to marine systems, they do indicate the presence of potential threats to public and environmental health. Fecal coliforms indicate a public health concern at levels above 200 fc/lOOmL, the level at which swimming areas are closed, as the bacteria itself can cause illness in humans. The environmental concern depends partly on the source of the bacteria arid triggers shellfish harvesting areas to be closed at levels above 14 fc/lOOmL (www.ecoinfo.ec.gc.ca/env_ind/region/shellfish , 2005). Fecal coliform bacteria can indicate faulty or failing septic tanks, storm-sewer cross-connections or overflows, agricultural wastes, and excessive dog or geese feces - all sources of added nutrients into the system. Nutrient loading in natural systems is an environmental concern because it can cause excessive algae to grow and then die off quickly, consuming much needed oxygen in the system, starving local fish and shellfish (Coastal Shore Stewardship, 2003, p. 70). When the storm drain system has been designed to handle sewer overflows (as is the case for many Victoria area storm drain outfalls), sewage wastes end up flowing out of the storm drain system and into streams or shoreline areas instead of out into deep ocean waters. Sewage wastes are problematic for the shoreline environment for two main reasons: 1) the additional nutrient input in the system, 2) deposition of fine, organic sediments or other contaminants can smother benthic invertebrate communities and 3) 8 along with human wastes, there are countless chemical contaminants present in the sewage system from homes, businesses, and industry. Although there is a great deal of information available to the general public about non-point source pollution and the importance of reducing use and improper disposal of chemicals, the potential for contaminants in the both the storm and sewer system is high. Chemical contaminants in both stormwater and sewer systems means that poisons are entering the marine environment with little or no control or monitoring apart from local stormwater sampling programs. The Capital Regional District's stormwater sampling program, for example, tests water for the following chemicals: arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, silver, zinc, and low and high weight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (LP A H and HPAH). A list of common examples of business and household wastes that contain these metals or PAH's can be found in Cameron and Mount (2004, Appendix F, p.l). Apart from the chemical contaminants and fecal coliforms monitored by stormwater sampling programs, it is unknown how many harmful viruses, bacteria, and chemicals enter marine shoreline systems undetected. In addition to contaminating our coastal areas, we are building roads, houses, and offices on top of valuable intertidal habitat so that it is either lost or damaged. Natural shores are increasingly becoming hardened with bulkheads, riprap, concrete or other materials causing changes in sediment transport regimes, sometimes resulting in losses of intertidal and sub-tidal wildlife (Coastal Shore Stewardship, 2003, p.5). For example, the Georgia Basin has three times more people than 40 years ago, and this number is expected to double again in less than 20 years. A greater population means more demand for access to the coast, more pollution, more stress on wildlife habitat and that more beaches disappear (Coastal Shore Stewardship, 2003, p.5). There are a number of organizations (both government and non-government) that are focusing on monitoring and assessing marine ecosystems to detect changes and potentially protect marine areas from further degradation. Xu et al. (2004) outline an assessment tool that involves a five step process: 1) review human activities in the marine 9 area, 2) identify human-induced stresses, 3) analyze ecosystem responses to stresses, 4) develop ecosystem health indicators, 5) assess ecosystem health. The health of Tolo Harbour, Hong Kong, China was assessed using indicators derived through this process by Xu et al. (2004). The indicators recommended in this approach involve those of the ° relevant stresses to the system as well as the responses of the ecosystem to these stresses biologically, chemically, and physically. The final assessment used by X u et al. (2004, p.363) categorizes the data for indicators according to whether it represents 'good' or 'bad' trends for the ecosystem being assessed. This method of assessing ecosystem health in the marine shoreline has proven useful in China as a way of evaluating the state of health in Tolo Harbour over time. It does not, however, allow a snapshot assessment of the current state of health in the absence of historical data. In Australia, the University of Queensland's Centre for Marine Studies has implemented an Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program (EHMP) (www.marine.uq.edu.au/marbot/ecosystemhealth/, 2005). The EHMP is based on a conceptual model that integrates current scientific understanding with community derived environmental values. The program uses an outcome-based approach to monitoring, by assessing the ecosystem response to natural and anthropogenic inputs, instead of measuring the inputs directly. The Australian EHMP uses marine plants as bioindicators of nutrient enrichment, a main source of problems in the marine ecosystems on the coast of Queensland. The nutrient bioindicators are assessed through techniques such as phytoplankton bioassays, stable isotope analysis and seagrass depth range for information on nitrogen and phosphorus. This approach to marine ecosystem health assessment was developed to evaluate the effectiveness of environmental protection initiated by the Brisbane River and Moreston Bay Wastewater Management Study. In Puget Sound, Washington, the Bainbridge Island Nearshore Assessment (Williams et al, 2003) was created to fulfill the ongoing assessment requirement for the City of Bainbridge's Shoreline Management Program. The Nearshore Assessment combines GIS mapping data with physical factors and environmental conditions of island shorelines, to characterize and assess ecological conditions. Assessment results will also be used for 10 future development of a framework for ranking nearshore restoration and preservation opportunities, designing a nearshore monitoring program, and evaluating the potential use of cumulative impact thresholds (Best, 2003, p. 9). On the east coast of Canada, an Approach for the assessment and monitoring of marine ecosystem health with application to the Mya-macoma community (Mark et al, 2003) was recently developed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The tool was created using the ecosystem health focus and an ecosystem approach. Although this assessment tool was designed to assess a specific clam community on the East coast of Canada, the research that went into the tool, in my opinion, is a significant contribution to the marine ecosystem health literature and provides a good example of an integrated approach to field assessment. According to Mark et al. (2003, p.7); "an ecosystem approach considers the components of a given system and the processes they are involved in as well as the interactions among its components. Rather than accounting for everything in the system, an ecosystem approach should aim at identifying the processes and elements that are critical for maintaining a system's characteristics." While Mark et al. (2003) outline an excellent process for using an ecosystem approach and doing an extremely thorough assessment, it requires a great deal of time, money and expertise. In-depth chemical and biological testing as well as complex statistical analyses are called for in the assessment. This means that such an assessment, while potentially valuable for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, is unrealistic for other coastal zone management practitioners and organizations, considering funding, time and human resource restraints. Also, the approach taken by Mark et al. (2003) does not include humans within the ecosystem. As a result there is no consideration of specific human activities and impacts on the system, which means that the approach does not meet my criterion for an holistic assessment tool as discussed in more detail below. Also on the east coast of Canada, Roff et al. (2003) describe geophysical approaches to the classification and monitoring of marine habitats. They propose that if marine environments are to be protected from human impacts, a consistent system to identify 11 types of marine habitats and communities is required. Roff et al. (2003) provide an overall approach to habitat classification using geophysical criteria, biological mapping and GIS techniques. While this approach certainly integrates a number of factors in one classification and provides a useful tool for coastal zone management, it does not provide a tool for ecosystem health assessment - though it may support it. In addition to the growing number of shoreline evaluation tools proposed worldwide and briefly summarized above, there have been a number of tools created to monitor shoreline ecosystems along the B.C. coast. It is important at this point to discuss these tools and their features. At the federal level, the Coastal/Estuarine Fish Habitat Description and Assessment Manual (Williams, 1989) exists to "guide habitat biologists, fisheries officers and other field staff who routinely conduct habitat assessments and evaluations as part of the development referral process". The protocol evaluates coastal areas in terms of productive capacity, primary productivity, fisheries, habitat sensitivity, and uniqueness using a scale of 1 to 4 for each criterion. The simplicity of this assessment tool is certainly a benefit to the practitioner. While the approach to assessment in this tool is labeled "ecological" in nature, it is very fish-focused with specific regard only for commercial species. The tool is not well-adapted to the intertidal ecosystem as that was not the main objective for its development. In addition, there is little reference to human impacts in coastal areas and no way to include those explicitly in the assessment. Non-governmental environmental organizations such as the Georgia Strait Alliance (GSA) have been using a monitoring protocol in B.C.'s intertidal areas since 1992. Intertidal Quadrat Studies (www, georgiastrait.org/quadrat.php. 2005) is a simple method of collecting biological information in intertidal areas in order to monitor change from year to year. While this program is valuable for educating the public about intertidal ecology, and providing some inventory data for beaches all over Vancouver Island, Quadrat Studies does not allow for the collection of data besides the biological, nor does it provide any means for evaluating the data with respect to ecosystem health. 12 Shorekeepers is another protocol by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. This method however, is "designed for non-professionals to map and survey the intertidal zone, and to produce data of sufficient quantity and quality for use by resource managers, environmental biologists, and marine researchers who are monitoring and assessing long-term changes in marine communities" (Jamieson et al, 1999, p.i). The Shorekeepers' protocol was designed specifically for Canada's Pacific coast and is more straight-forward to use than the protocol described by Mark et al. (2003) for the Mya-Macoma communities on the East coast. Like GSA's Quadrat Studies, Shorekeepers' is accessible to the general public and C Z M practitioners and provides a good inventory of intertidal biology, but does not provide any guidance or means to evaluate the overall health of the ecosystem. While the Shorekeepers' program has been collecting data since 1997 at some sites, there has been little done to use the data. Presumably this is because the protocol is still in the early testing and development stages, but coastal zone practitioners surely need a way to get results for themselves without having to wait on research scientists to do it for them. The need for an assessment tool that provides some guidance for British Columbia's coastal zone management (CZM) practitioners to evaluate intertidal ecosystem health and do so using an holistic approach is evident. Chapter 2 also provides evidence in the form of testimonials from C Z M practitioners stating that such a tool is needed to fill this gap. It is important, at this point, to distinguish between the ecosystem approach and an holistic approach. The ecosystem approach refers to the concept as described by Fisheries and Oceans Canada in the movement away from single-species management of living resources (Jamieson et al, 1999, p.l). This approach is based on the fact that good species management is not possible by separating them from their environment. The ecosystem approach examines system components and processes, and their interactions, and aims to include humans as a part of the ecosystem. Grumbine (1994, p. 28) points out that the ecosystem approach was a relatively new concept and policy framework in the mid nineties when it was being defined- at the same time the role of humans in nature 13 was being redefined. Prior to the ecosystem approach, resource management focused on resource extraction from the point of view that humans were separate from nature. Holism is defined as "the view that an account of all the parts of a whole and their interrelations is inadequate as an account of the whole" (Mautner, 2000, p. 253). A holistic worldview includes humans within natural ecosystems. This view "recognizes the fundamental interdependence of all phenomena and that as individuals and societies we are all embedded in (and ultimately dependent on) cyclical processes of nature (Capra, 1996, p.6)." If we go one step beyond an holistic approach, the ecological approach refers to the concept described by Capra (1996), in which one assumes an ecological view or perception of the world. According to Capra (1996, p.6): "the ecological view is associated with the philosophical school of deep ecology, which does not separate humans- or anything else- from the natural environment". Capra also proposes that the ecological view is different from the 'holistic view', and is even more appropriate for the new paradigm into which he proposes we are moving (1996, p.6). Using a holistic view of a bicycle, Capra suggests, means to see the bicycle as a functional whole and to understand the interdependence of its parts accordingly. Using an ecological view however, a bicycle is seen as in the holistic view above, but adds the perception of how the bicycle is embedded in its natural and social environment (i.e.; Where the raw materials came from, how it was manufactured, how its use affects the natural environment and the community in which it is used, etc.). For the purposes of this research, to avoid confusion I will continue to use the term 'holistic' to refer to an approach to understanding ecosystems as a whole, recognizing that humans are indeed a part of natural systems. It is important to clarify, however, that although humans are considered a part of natural systems, we are the only species (as far as we know) that can consciously choose to act unsustainably. While individual organisms may not be able to adapt to a changing environment and ultimately become extinct, as humans we now have the knowledge and means to act in a manner that will 14 lessen our contributions to environmental change and degradation, and promote the survival of our species. Lovelock (2000, p. 12) points out that although it may seem that "humans have become like a leukemia of the Earth", "leukemic cells do not debate their destructive role, nor consider a change of behaviour that might curb their own numbers". The reductionist view embodied in the Scientific Revolution has been very useful in furthering science and technology. This compartmentalized mode of thinking can no longer serve the greater good, i f it is not balanced out and deepened by an holistic approach to ecology. Odum (1971, p.36) states; "the ecosystem is the central theme and most important concept of ecology. The two approaches to its study, the holological and the merological, must be integrated and translated into programs of action i f man is to survive his self-generated environmental crisis." The prefixes 'holo' and 'mero' refer to the whole (holos) and the parts (meros) respectively, and so the term holological refers to the study of something in its completeness and merological is the study of something by looking at the parts. Twenty-five years later Capra (1996, p.81) proposed that the study of structure (including matter, substance, and quantity) and the study of pattern (including form, order, and quality) be melded together along with 'process' as the linkage between the two as in the example of the bicycle above. Capra seemed to agree with Odum in stating: "the key to a comprehensive theory of living systems lies in the synthesis of these two approaches" (1996, p.81). It is not brand new science to go about our research as i f the whole were greater than the sum of its parts, it is just deeper, and perhaps less familiar science to many of us. Systems thinkers have been conducting such research and applying it to living systems since the 1950's and 60's (Capra, 1996). Even centuries ago, Leonardo da Vinci and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe made significant contributions to biology through their ability to combine the study of pattern with that of structure (Capra, 1999,p.5). 15 It is the purpose of this research to explore the intertidal ecosystem using an holistic approach and in doing so create an assessment tool to evaluate intertidal health in a more holistic way than has previously been accomplished. This research was undertaken with the hope that action to conserve and restore intertidal ecosystems would be aided and encouraged with a tool that allows a snapshot assessment of intertidal ecosystem health. 1.2 Research questions It was my intent to begin with research questions that would lead me towards a more holistic understanding of ecosystem health in general and apply that by creating an assessment tool that could be used to "diagnose" intertidal ecosystem health. The following are the specific research questions that guided the thesis work: A. What makes an intertidal ecosystem whole (and therefore healthy, given my operational definition of ecosystem health in Chapter 2)1 B. What are the indicators of ecosystem health in the intertidal zone? C. How can these indicators be combined to create a simple, low-cost, efficient, holistic tool to assess intertidal ecosystem health? 1.3 Outline of chapters in this thesis The chapters in this thesis document are arranged to help the reader follow the research process from beginning to end. Chapter 1 has just discussed why the research was undertaken and how it fits in with other research areas like coastal zone management, ecosystem health, and an holistic approach. Chapter 2 describes methods used to answer the proposed research questions listed above, and how the intertidal health diagnostic tool was created. The entire theoretical underpinning for the diagnostic tool is also found in Chapter 2, including my operational 16 definition of ecosystem health and the mental model that provided the vision for the assessment tool. Chapter 3 describes the results of testing the intertidal health diagnostic tool with field data collected in a study area along Southern Vancouver Island's coast. Instructions regarding how to use the diagnostic tool are outlined in Chapter 3 as well. Chapter 4 provides the discussion of strengths and weaknesses in the diagnostic tool and potential for further usage of it. Finally, Chapter 5 summarizes the research in its entirety and discusses the implications of this research for coastal zone management, and future research. 17 Chapter 2: Methods: Process of Diagnostic Tool Development 2.1 General Overview of Research Methods To answer my research questions and ultimately create an holistic assessment of intertidal ecosystem health, both qualitative and quantitative methods were employed. The following is a description of the methods used to answer each of the three research questions addressed in this thesis: What makes an intertidal ecosystem whole (and therefore healthy, given my operational definition of ecosystem health)? A great deal of background research and reading of the past and current literature (as summarized in section 2.4) provided a variety of answers to this question. In order for me to reach some final conclusion about which answers were most relevant to the research and to formulate a definition of ecosystem health, I used a combination of my experience and philosophy of health together with scientific theory and explanation. A model of intertidal ecosystem health was created based on the chosen definition and mental model of ecosystem health. What are the indicators of ecosystem health in the intertidal zone? In addition to using relevant scientific and environmental literature and examining current field methods of assessing ecosystem health (as outlined in Chapter 1) to answer this question, responses from interview participants were important in guiding the research. The detailed explanation of the model of intertidal ecosystem health was created by combining information from both of the above sources in addition to my own experience. How can these indicators be combined to create a simple, low-cost, efficient, holistic tool to assess intertidal ecosystem health? 18 Once the definition and model of ecosystem health were created, the generation of a diagnostic tool to assess intertidal ecosystem health evolved quite naturally with the formulation of a series of questions to address each category within the model. Questions were designed to be simple and easily interpreted and answered with an intermediate level of intertidal ecosystem experience and theory. The process of selecting and wording relevant questions was guided by the interview outcomes as well as reference in the scientific literature regarding a particular indicator's robustness, reliability, utility, and past use. The most challenging portion involved the evaluation of the answers to these questions in the field and how to determine what this says about health once completed. A scale was developed based on theory and experience that would allow answers to be evaluated simply and clearly. By summing the scores a final overall assessment of the health of the ecosystem is reached. As a final stage in the development of the assessment tool, a study area was chosen and sampled using a current methodology for surveying intertidal areas along BC's coast. The information was then plugged into the diagnostic tool in order to test the tool's applicability and utility. Using a survey methodology that is already in place and in use, allowed for exploration of the possibility of using it in cooperation with the diagnostic tool to help interpret intertidal data for practitioners. 2.2 Qualitative research: Interviews of Coastal Zone Managers Quantitative research methods are often heavily relied upon in determining levels of human impact or ecosystem health. As one of the guiding objectives of this research was to work towards creating a more holistic assessment tool, it was decided that combining field work (quantitative research) and literature searches with interviews (qualitative research) of persons with experience in the area of coastal zone management would help to envision how theory is applied in practice. The interview results supported the creation of a diagnostic tool that can be used readily by.environmental practitioners to assess 19 intertidal ecosystem health in a more holistic way (as discussed further in Ch. 3: Application of the Diagnostic Tool). Six structured interviews were conducted between March and May, 2004. Participants were selected from all known and accessible Coastal Zone Managers in the Southern Vancouver Island and lower Mainland area. Coastal Zone Managers, for the purposes of this study, included anyone working to restore, organize, manage, or understand coastal ecosystems. Participants were selected from governmental institutions at the local, regional, Provincial, Federal and First Nations levels as well as academics, and non-governmental environmental organisations. Although several attempts were made to interview a representative from the Federal government, from both Parks Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, none of those contacted responded to the initial email and subsequent calls requesting their participation in an interview. As a result, representatives from only six of the above seven classes of coastal managers were interviewed. The specific tool of qualitative research that was used is most closely associated with that of the survey (DeVaus,1990). There has been some discussion about whether survey research is more quantitative in nature than qualitative. However, since the interviews were done in person and not through the use of a questionnaire, allowing flexibility for the researcher to reword and expand on questions and responses, it seems appropriate to categorize the interviews as a qualitative survey. The purpose of the interviews was specifically to find out: a) i f there is a need for the above research as identified by coastal zone managers; b) where there are gaps and challenges for these experts to do their jobs; and c) to find out what indicators these experts currently use to assess marine health. The interview questions are listed in Table 2.1 below. 20 Table 2.1 Interview Questions for Coastal Zone Managers Section 1: Coastal Zone Management (CZM) - General 1. What criteria do you use to make decisions in the coastal zone? 2. What are the gaps and challenges involved in being a coastal zone manager? 3. What is the future of C Z M , in your opinion? Where is it going? Section 2: Ecosystem Health in the Coastal Zone 4. Some people define ecosystem health in terms of the human Western medical model, by saying it is "the absence of disease", how do you define Health as it relates to coastal ecosystems? 5. What indicators (biological, chemical, social, economic, physical) help you to determine this state of health? 6. Do you currently have a need to assess health in the coastal zone for work purposes? Why/Why not? 7. What tools do you use to assess health, i f you do? 8. What do you see as gaps and challenges to assessing health in the coastal environment? 9. What do you see as the main barriers to healthy ecosystems in the coastal zone? 21 Section 3: specific site evaluations Ask managers to evaluate specific well-known beach sites. (Healthy vs Not Healthy) Section 4: Further resources and/or suggestions for my research 10. Can you suggest any resources that I should use in researching ecosystem health in the coastal zone? 11. (After a brief overview of my research goals) Is there any part of my research that you see being beneficial to your work or the work of others in this field? 12. Is there anything I could do to improve the usefulness of my research? Several potential participants were contacted via e-mail at their place of work where they were informed of the purposes of the research and specifically the purposes for the interviews (see Letter of permission in Appendix A). Participants were asked i f they agreed to participate in an interview, i f consent was given, an interview date, time, and location were set-up. Interviews were conducted in person, where possible, and tape-recorded. In one case, a face-to-face interview was not possible due to location and travel limitations, therefore a telephone interview was conducted. The interviews required a maximum of one hour per participant. At the time of the interview, all participants were again asked i f they consented to being interviewed and tape-recorded. Participants were then reminded of the purpose of the 22 research and the interviews. Participants were read the questions one by one, with no time limit for a response, allowing time for thought or reflection afterwards. The tape-recorded interviews were transcribed following the interview session and the results are summarized below in section 2.3. Confidentiality of participants was maintained at all times and any quotes used in the summary have been kept anonymous. A l l documents and tapes have been kept in a locked cabinet and in password protected computer files where only I have access. As the interview portion of this research involved the use of human subjects, an application for approval by the University of British Columbia's Office of Research Services and Administration Behavioural Research Ethics Board was submitted and granted (#B03-086) (Certificate of Approval - i n Appendix B). 23 Interview results The outcomes of the interview process were helpful for this research in a variety of ways. First, the responses aided in the formulation of a definition of ecosystem health that fit with both scientific theory and current practitioner's philosophies of health. One participant defined ecosystem health in the following way: "I like the analogy to human health. I don't know i f I would agree with the lack of disease. I think that the measure of marine ecosystem health would be that all the parts are there and that they are functioning in a coordinated way. So we have top predators, the long-lived species, the slow to reproduce species are supported, but yet we still get economic development in a sustainable way. That the age structure in a population is there and is indicative of the full range of possibilities, shows the health of ecosystems." Another participant defined ecosystem health by stating: "There is a spectrum of health... lush with life vs not... like a moonscape." 23 A l l participants combined biological, chemical, and physical indicators with social, economic and political indicators in order to define ecosystem health. Second, participants confirmed that there was indeed a need for this research. A l l participants felt that this research would be beneficial to their work or to that of their co-workers in some way, i f not directly. A l l six participants said that they did have a need to assess health in the marine ecosystem for work purposes, although their specific focus and reason for assessing health varied depending on each person's work goals. Participants used a combination of monitoring and inventory data, mapping technology, anecdotal information from community residents, past reports and expert knowledge to assess health in marine areas. When asked about the gaps and challenges to assessing intertidal ecosystem health in the coastal environment, participants had a variety of responses, including: "Lack of training and knowledge in staff, in understanding the marine environment. None of us have been trained in marine processes or marine anything. There has always been a big emphasis on freshwater." "It is a challenge for the public will to lobby the government to put in place systems to monitor and report back, then remediate. Here the government can lead and does not have to fund it all." "One of the major gaps is the cost. Also a challenge. We have the tools sitting on the shelf to do more, like inventory. There is a formal process, but we don't have the money to do it. Maybe we need to link up with other agencies that have the funding." In addition to the lack of knowledge and experience in marine ecosystems and the lack of funding and political support for marine ecosystem monitoring and inventory, participants listed the following gaps and challenges to assessing marine ecosystem health: 24 • Complexity of marine ecosystems • Lack of public information about what the indicators mean • Costs of assessment • Lack of inventory data • Mindset is limiting • Lack of support for stewardship • Long-term monitoring is hard to do Third, participants' responses helped to guide me in the creation of a diagnostic tool for assessing intertidal ecosystem health - as I had hoped when structuring the interview questions. Participants confirmed the use of several specific indicators of intertidal ecosystem health in the field, and had many insightful and practical suggestions for improving current survey methodologies and listed criterion that they would like to see in a new assessment tool. One participant commented on the need for a new approach to examining ecosystem health in general: "The scientific methods of measuring ecosystem health are extensive. They require highly trained personnel. The problem is that it doesn't connect i f we go with the traditional scientific method of measuring ecosystem health. It's difficult to tease out integrated processes because its so reductionist and its generally beyond the average community group or person to directly relate to it. So we need something that is in between - beyond just crystal-balling, that can be done by local community groups in a rigorous enough manner that it's meaningful and provides some direction to • management. I have doubts that the traditional scientific model will provide us with clear management options." One respondent felt that instant feedback in the form of an index for a quick assessment with little training and easy summarization with a final number to compare sites, would be best. This person felt that current assessment tools are too time-consuming and complex, involving the collection of too much information. 25 When asked about the scope of the assessment tool, most participants agreed with the following participant's quote: "For me, a measure of ecosystem health in areas of more common everyday use is much more useful than that of an area of heavy industrial use." The majority of participants were concerned with assessing local areas, quickly, as cheaply as possible, with a simple protocol and having some reliable way to evaluate the data in the end to aid in management decisions. This is what was aimed for in the creation of the diagnostic/assessment tool. An interesting observation of the interview results was that participants answered very specifically about the focus of their work, despite the more general aim of many questions. This outcome illustrates the need for a more holistic approach in ecosystem health assessment, as practitioners are so tuned in to the specific needs of their field and their work goals, that the larger or whole picture is easily distorted or broken into pieces. 2.4 Definition of Ecosystem Health Before any further work was done to answer the research questions and create the diagnostic tool, a definition of ecosystem health needed to be developed or chosen that agreed with my research goals and personal philosophy of health. It has been discussed in (Rapport et al, 1985, p.619) that defining health is a subjective task and therefore dependent to varying degrees on one's perspective. Perceptions of health are key to defining it. This research required that I explore my own perceptions of environmental health in order to clarify how I envisioned a healthy ecosystem. In my experience working in environmental science, education, and restoration it has become clear to me that natural systems persist in whatever way they can despite the stresses that plague them. Given time, ecosystems restore themselves. Ideally natural systems would be allowed to recover from a disturbance once it has been removed or absorbed by the system. Unfortunately many systems face numerous, cumulative 26 disturbances without time or space to recover and so invasive restoration techniques (such as the dredging of sediments with heavy equipment) are deemed necessary. A healthy ecosystem, according to my philosophy of health, is one that does not require human intervention in performing basic ecosystem functions. Humans are included within my definition of an ecosystem, but once human disturbance has reached a level where 'invasive' restoration techniques are required for the system to persist, the health of the system is considered compromised and poor. Humans have choices about the activities they undertake and how severe the impacts of these activities may be. Human activities undertaken within an ecosystem that ultimately degrade the system to the point where it can no longer support human life is considered unsustainable, and creates unhealthy ecosystems. It is necessary to clarify that this research was undertaken to provide a tool to aid in the eventual conservation and maintenance of intertidal ecosystems along B.C.'s coast, with particular focus on the urban shorelines of the Victoria area. The diagnostic tool is focused on assessing health in these areas and is not meant to evaluate agricultural or maricultural areas such as orchards, wheat fields, fish farms etc. It is understood that it is necessary for our species to grow food and harvest resources for our varied needs and leave the evaluation of those areas for another paper. To summarize, my personal vision of the healthiest intertidal ecosystem possible is a system that does not show any indications of being compromised and has little activity happening around it that would degrade the essential structure and function of the system as a whole. Humans can live in and around the system, but the activities of those humans would be sustainable. It is with this philosophy in mind that the literature was examined for a definition of ecosystem health appropriate to my research. The chosen definition needed to incorporate this philosophy and permit evaluation using the tool to be developed. 27 In exploring the topic of ecosystem health and the variety of definitions that had already been constructed, the following definitions were useful in shaping my definition of ecosystem health: " A healthy ecosystem is one that provides services supportive of the [human] community" (Rapport, 1997, p.45). "Healthy ecosystems are defined in terms of three main features: vigor, resilience, and organization" (Rapport, 1997, p.45). "An ecological system is healthy and free from 'distress syndrome' i f it is stable and sustainable - that is, i f it is active and maintains its organization and autonomy over time and is resilient to stress" (Haskell et al, 1992, p.9). " 'Health' may be used in a human context as the condition of being sound in body, mind, and spirit; freedom from physical pain. 'Integrity' implies an unimpaired condition or the quality or state of being complete or undivided" (Karr, 1992, p. 226). "These concepts [ecosystem health and integrity] are embodied in the term 'sustainability', which implies the system's ability to maintain its structure (organization) and function (vigor) over time in the face of external stress (resilience)" (Costanza, 1992, p. 239). "An ecosystem can be considered healthy i f it appears as a healthy integrated whole. Put another way, the term ecosystem health describes desired ecosystem conditions " (Envirologic Consulting, 1999. p. 4). Despite the plethora of definitions of ecosystem health found in the scientific literature and summarized above, I did not find an existing definition that was fully appropriate or satisfactory. The most challenging point was that the definition had to be practical enough to use and evaluate in the field. 28 The following definition of ecosystem health was generated based on the interview outcomes, literature research and my own preferences, experience, and values. An ecosystem will be considered healthy if it is whole, meaning: 1) having all of its essential components; 2) that these components are functioning ( or able to function) without human support; 3) interactions among components are not disturbed. To clarify once again, humans are included in this definition of ecosystem health, but human activities that damage the functioning or interactions of ecosystem components considered essential, are not considered a part of a healthy ecosystem. This definition was the first step towards creating the diagnostic tool for intertidal ecosystem health and gave the work a base from which to start. 2.5 Model/Metaphor of Ecosystem health Using the above definition of ecosystem health, a mental model of a healthy intertidal ecosystem was formed. The next step was answering the question: What are the essential components of the intertidal ecosystem? The definition of the word 'ecology' provided the model and metaphor of the household for ecosystem health. The word ecology comes from the Greek "oikos" meaning house. In trying to understand ecosystems, their components and essential structures and functions, it is helpful to go back to the roots of the word and the original idea to consider our understanding of the functioning of a household or a home. The word 'home' or 'household' is used here instead of just house, as these include the people and their activities living within the house. The use of a conceptual model allows for a more holistic view of the ecosystem. 29 The model of a household or home (Figure 2.1) was used to aid in the determination of essential components in an intertidal ecosystem (Figure 2.2). The major categories of structures and functions important to the functioning of a household apply to the structures and functions important to the functioning of the intertidal ecosystem (and with some alteration potentially to any ecosystem). Figure 2.1 Model of a Household with essential components Figure 2.2 Conceptual Model of Intertidal Ecosystem 30 Here is an explanation of each of the categories or headings from the model and how they apply to the functioning of the intertidal ecosystem: Foundation: The foundation of a house acts to provide the main structure upon which the rest of the house is built. It's purpose it to provide stability to the whole structure. In an ecosystem, the ability of the habitat to support the organisms and the system as a whole is determined by a number of factors including; the wildness of the ecosystem (how much human intervention is required for it to function?), the historical use of the area (how have human impacts degraded the area in the past?) as well as the specific physical, chemical, and biological dynamics of the system. An ecosystem's natural origin acts as the foundation. When an ecosystem must be supported artificially through human intervention, it's foundation lacks stability. For example with hatchery fish, it is known that they are much less able to cope with the local diseases, and threats to survival than the wild stock. Wild stocks are known to be more resilient than non-wild stocks. While humans are a part of ecosystems, when we must intervene in order for a specific ecosystem to function, we must question the health of the natural system. Habitat: In the home or household model the actual physical structure of the house is the body that supports the home and the people and activities within it. In the intertidal ecosystem the habitat can be considered to provide that same function. There are many qualities required of a habitat for it to "support" an intertidal ecosystem. These qualities include: having space or habitat available for use, having a variety of habitats and/or substrates that will support a variety of organisms - like the number of rooms in a house and their differing purposes. While the type of habitat will (in part) determine the types of organisms that can occupy the habitat, the quality of the habitat can limit whether or not certain organisms will occupy the habitat. With a house the state of the physical and aesthetic structure will limit the type of people that will decide to live there; is it a one 31 room bungalow or a 3-story 4-bathroom mansion with a swimming pool? Are the walls insulated with asbestos? Is the habitat contaminated? The habitat allows the foundation to have certain expression. Water: In a household, water must be available for the purposes of drinking and sustaining the internal processes of the individual people, for food preparation, as well as for cleaning individuals, and the actual house and "tools" used within the home. In an intertidal ecosystem, water is used similarly for all of those purposes: for drinking by birds, mammals incl. humans, for cleaning by birds and mammals, for food prep and for maintenance of internal processes. The water quality is important and can be evaluated with respect to the circulation, the tidal rhythms, the amount available and the presence of disease, contaminants and impurities, nutrients, minerals, and O2. In addition, characteristics like the temperature and turbidity determine i f organisms can "use" and live in the water. The water's movement is critical in the intertidal and acts as the main transportation system, through which physical restructuring of habitat occurs. Air/Oxveen: In a household air is essential for the survival of the people living there, as in any ecosystem. In addition, qualities of the air temperature, amount of O2 in the air as well as the presence of diseases, contaminants and impurities will affect the health of the household. This also goes for the intertidal ecosystem with the difference that the majority of intertidal organisms are primarily marine but have special adaptations to help them cope with the exposure to air at low tide. These organisms still require oxygen which is largely taken from the water when submerged. However, they are affected by the quality of air (as above) they are exposed to as well. Sun: Obviously the function of a furnace in a house is similar to that of the siin in an ecosystem with the added point that an ecosystem requires the sun for primary productivity and therefore for any organisms to eat and grow. Of course the sun is still 32 required for a household to exist (even i f it is in the tropics) and be maintained in that humans also rely on primary production for food energy as well as providing the basic materials for building houses. Since the sun is out of the realm of our control or assessment, its' role is acknowledged here and left out of the diagnostic tool. Organization: In a household, organization includes communication and relationships between the people in the home, the roles each person plays and their ability to carry out their role with the resources they have. In an ecosystem, organization then refers to the relationships between the organisms - the food chains and the greater food web they create, as well as the ability of the organisms to use the available resources in the system. This category includes considerations such as the diversity of niches and functions represented, redundancy and diversity of feeding guilds. These can be combined and assessed using ecosystem services. Food: This is a very straightforward category in both the household metaphor and the intertidal ecosystem. The Food category refers to the specific resources available in the ecosystem/household. In a household this can include: food items, money, individual energy, information and experience. In the intertidal ecosystem this includes the diversity and abundance of organisms. It is important to note that in both human households and intertidal ecosystems, sources of food come largely from outside sources. This helps to understand the importance of the 'doors/windows: connections to the subtidal and backshore ecosystems' category below. Storage: In a household, the attic is used to store resources (equipment, tools, information) and the people who live within the home also store resources in the form of their experience, genetic information and energy. This is similar to the organisms in the intertidal ecosystem that store genetic information, energy in the form of nutrients, water, and sunlight, as well as their abilities to adapt to specific environmental conditions. In a land-33 based ecosystem, forests play a huge role in the storage function by acting as carbon sinks in addition to all of the other services they provide to the ecosystem. In the intertidal ecosystem algae/seaweeds fill that same storage function, without which the system would be very vulnerable to destruction, much less resistant and resilient to stresses. Recycling: In a household this speaks to the resource-use efficiency and relates to the broader community as well as the political and global spheres. As humans move towards greater resource-use efficiency we reduce, reuse, and recycle wastes/resources. In an ecosystem, this speaks to turnover rates of the organisms. When the majority of organisms are short-lived, generalist opportunists - nutrient cycling occurs quickly and photosynthesis is rapid. In the intertidal zone we would see an increase in phytoplankton blooms and less kelps. Nutrient loading happens as organisms break down (less recycling is happening, there is an abundance of nutrients available) we see more of these short-lived organisms that respond quickly to the increase in nutrients (such as Ulva, Enteromorpha, diatoms, and some tube worms). As in the household, the function of recycling in ecosystems does not happen in isolation, but is very much related to the adjacent ecosystems and entire Earth processes. Maintenance: Rest and reproduction come under this category for both human households and ecosystems. Both rest and reproduction are required i f the systems are to 'grow'. In an ecosystem the measurement of 'scope for growth' can give us an idea of how much energy is being used by individual organisms just to keep functioning (repair and maintenance) and then how much energy that leaves for growth, adaptation, and reproduction. If a system is under constant attack from human disturbance, chances are there is little 'scope for growth' in the individuals. Although the specific measurement of scope for growth is not included in the diagnostic tool because of the resources required to take such a measurement, the idea of it is included through the use of questions that aid 34 the practitioner in deciding how well the ecosystem is functioning in the maintenance category. Doors/Windows: connections to subtidal and backshore ecosystems: In a household it is obvious that doors and windows are important for our connection with the other people, resources, in the greater community. They allow the movement of resources such as the flow of air. In the intertidal ecosystem, it is similarly important that there is a connection allowing exchange of resources between the adjacent systems- the subtidal area and the backshore. Often, human developments cut off this connection between the intertidal zone and the subtidal or the backshore, severing the passageway and blocking exchange of resources like: nutrients, genetic diversity, and sediments. Watershed: The community that a household is located within has a direct influence upon all households within that community, whether via the municipal policies, the individual human relationships, or the group dynamics, socioeconomic classes and cultures. For an intertidal ecosystem, the watershed that it is located within has similar influence on its ability to function. Human land-use in the watershed is an important factor influencing the intertidal zone. The philosophies towards the environment of the people within the watershed also have a large influence on the health of ecosystems. Politics: The power structures and institutions, governing bodies and their policies have an influence on the household as well as the ecosystem. They have the ability to educate and regulate and support or deter the activities of the people within the country, province, city, and watershed with respect to the intertidal ecosystem. Climate and Natural Phenomena: This category refers to the influence on a global scale of natural influences such as E l Nino, earthquakes, tsunamis, and climate factors. As these factors are out of the realm of our control or assessment, they are acknowledged here and left out of the diagnostic tool. 35 2.6 Tool for Intertidal Ecosystem Health Diagnosis (TIEHD) Once the conceptual model of intertidal ecosystem health was created it was possible to see clearly which components needed to be included in an assessment tool and how these components would influence the system as a whole. The next step was to begin to ask questions that would help towards assessing the presence and functioning plus the interaction of all of these essential components in the intertidal zone. Using the same headings from the model, the diagnostic tool consists of 12 of the 14 category headings (leaving out the natural & global phenomena and sun section). Under each category is a series of questions to help the practitioner to make decisions about the presence, functioning, and interactivity of that ecosystem component. The questions were designed to be simple and easily understood by someone not trained extensively in marine biology, but having some knowledge in ecology and some field experience. The average person lacking field experience could quickly and easily be trained to use the tool in a relatively short time period. The 55 questions in the diagnostic tool are set up to be answered using either yes or no as a response. This allows for easy evaluation of the answers by the practitioner using the scale included with the tool (see 2.6 below). As a means of dealing with uncertainty or ambiguity and the complexity and variety of intertidal ecosystems, each section has a reference (or references) attached to it that will aid the practitioner in case the terms are not clear, or there is some question about it's applicability under a specific circumstance. The tool was designed with specific knowledge and a focus on the shorelines along Southern Vancouver Island. This does not mean that the tool would not be applicable in other areas of the B.C. coast, however the expertise of the researcher is limited with respect to shoreline areas further North on Vancouver Island or the mainland. A l l of the questions used in the diagnostic tool of intertidal ecosystem health are shown in Table 2.2 below. The entire diagnostic tool complete with references to support the 36 inclusion of each question and allow the reader to further explore the indicator can be found in Appendix C. Table 2.2 Tool for Intertidal Ecosystem Health Diagnosis (TIEHD) Snapshot Assessment of Intertidal Ecosystem Health Y score N score n/a Total Foundations 1 Rate this system on wildness or pristine quality on the following scale (1=prisSne, -1=artificial, 0=somewhat) 2 Are any populations in this ecosystem intended transplants (i.e.: hatchery fish, eelgrass transplants) -1 1 3 Does the system function without human PHYSICAL support? 1 -1 4 Are there any accidentally introduced /exotic species within the intertidal area? -1 1 Habitat 5 Is there a shortage of available habitat in the ecosystem? Use the following points as evidence of this: 1 a) displacement of animals ie: birds, mammals, have had to move elsewhere -1 b) developments have encroached into intertidal area -1 c) erosion of habitat from wind or water -1 6 Is there more than a small amount of visible garbage within the ecosystem? -1 1 7 Are any of the following freshwater sources present?: a) urban run-off -1 b) River/creek 1 c) water table 1 d) leakage from drinking water system and/or fire hydrants -1 e) other -1 8 Which of the following habitats are present in the ecosystem? a)sand 1 b) bedrock 1 c) eelgrass d) cobble/pebble 1 e) shell 1 f) sea lettuce 1 g) mixed macroalgae h) mud 1 I) Other: 1 Watershed 9 What is the land-use in the watershed? a) Residential -1 b) Industrial -1 c) Parks and Recreation (specify type of rec: ) -1 d) Wild/Natural/unused e) Agricultural -1 f) Transportation/Roads -1 g) Commercial (specify type: ) -1 h) Other: -1 10 Do any storm drain outfalls discharge within the intertidal area? -1 1 37 Watershed continued Y score N score n/a Total 11 What is the land-use in the drainage areas of these outfalls?: a) Residential -1 b) Industrial -1 c) Parks and Recreation (specify type of rec: ) -1 d) Wild/Natural/unused 1 e) Agricultural -1 0 Transportation/Roads -1 g) Commercial (specify type: ) -1 hi Other 12 Do any of the storm drain outfalls act as sewer overflows? -1 1 13 Do all sediments meet Marine Sediment Quality Guidelines standards (Capital Regional District standards)? 1 -1 14 How many of the Marine Sediment Quality Guideline standards are exceeded? -1 15 Do the fecal conforms exceed 200 fc/100mL in any of the outfalls or in the water? -1 1 16 Is there land-use in watershed /on shoreline contributing contaminants, noise, or physical disturbance to intertidal -1 1 Water 17 Is the water circulation good (well-mixed)? 1 -1 18 Is any of the following evidence of poor oceanic circulation present? 1 a) scummy surface (oil, debris, soap etc.) -1 b) the physical make-up of the surrounding oceanic source is an inlet, fjord, or other naturally blocked mouth -1 c) human development is stifling or blocking water flow (ie: dam, etc) -1 19 Is the salinity within a livable range for intertidal organisms? 1 -1 20 Is any of the following present as evidence of disease or contamination in the water? 1 a) dead fish on shore or in water -1 b) harmful algal blooms -1 c) marine mammal fat testing high for contaminants specific to the area -1 d) fecal coliforms above 200 fc/1 OOmL -1 e) mussel testing high for contaminants or inedible due to PSP or other toxins? -1 g) foul odour that can not be attributed to rotting algae -1 h) pH is outside of the livable range for fish (not between 4-9) -1 i) Other -1 21 Is the water temperature in the optimal livable range for fish in this area? (Between 5 and 15 C ) 1 -1 22 Does the water temperature fluctuate due to some human influence? (see options below) 1 a) extremely hot or cold run-off from human source? -1 b) removal of natural shade -1 c) addition of structures which block wind, water circulation, or magnify sun -1 d) Other -1 24 Is there a source of frequent noise pollution in the water nearby as listed below? 1 a) boat (and other marine vessel) traffic -1 b)aquaculture protection gear -1 c) Other -1 25 Is the turbidity of the water high, potentially diminishing 02 absorption by organisms? -1 1 Air 26 Are there known contaminants in the air from a point source? -1 1 27 Is there a source of frequent noise pollution in the air? 1 a) heavy/construction equipment -1 b) loud horns/whistles -1 c) boat traffic -1 d) airplane traffic -1 f) other -1 Maintenance 28 Is the system exposed to frequent human disturbance? -1 1 29 How many different sources of human disturbance affect this system? (-1 per source, 1 if none) -1 1 30 Are there juvenile organisms present? 1 -1 31 Is there an abundance of individs from only r-selected (opportunistic, short-lived, generalists) species population -1 1 32 Are hard surfaces within the intertidal zone highly colonized ONLY by algae and barnacles? | -1 1 38 Y score N score n/a Total Organization 33 Are there a variety of ecosystem services beinq provided? Which ones? a) recreational use for humans 1 -1 b) food supply source for humans 1 -1 c) maintenance of biodiversity 1 -1 d) Water purification {Are eelgrass, algae, mussels, or oysters present?) 1 -1 e) Detoxification of wastes (Are bacteria, phytoplankton, or wetland vegetation present?) 1 -1 f) support of diverse human cultures 1 -1 g) mitigation of floods and storm surges 1 -1 h) Other: 1 -1 Food 34 Are there a variety of orqanisms present? 1 -1 35 Is at least one representative species for each of the followinq feedinq quilds present? a) producers: alqae, phytoplankton 1 -1 b) primary consumers: limpets, chitons, oysters, species of ducks, clams, barnacles, mussels, periwinkles 1 -1 c) secondary consumers: worms, crabs, urchins, shrimp, 1 -1 d) predators: seastars, shorebirds, snails, nudibranchs, fish, 1 -1 e) omnivores: raccooons, birds (crows, qulls), people, hermit crab, 1 -1 f) detrivores & scavenqers: tube worms, seqmented worms, amphipods, isopods, crabs, whelks, 1 -1 36 Is there evidence of a lack of resources within the system? Which resources seem lackinq? 1 a) water: the streambed is dry and/or backshore is extremely dry -1 b) food availability: evidence of starvinq orqanisms and/or low abundance in populations -1 c) nutrients: alqae populations low -1 d) sun: lack of alqae and evidence of too much shadinq -1 e) Other: -1 37 Is abundance within majority of populations very low? (ie: sparse alqae cover, > 10 indiv. animals) -1 1 Recycling 38 Is there a visible excess of materials/resources in the system? -1 1 39 Are there both qeneraiists and specialists present? 1 -1 40 Is there an abundance of orqanisms that break materials down (detrivores) like: worms, iso/amphipods? 1 -1 41 Is there evidence of frequent plankton blooms? -1 1 Storage 42 Is there evidence of a leak of resources out of the system as in evidence below? 1 a) harvestinq of orqanisms -1 b) nutrient leaks due to lack of veqetation to hold it -1 c) Other: -1 43 Are there any long-lived species present? 1 -1 44 Is there an abundance of alqae which store nutrients? 1 -1 45 Is the backshore hiqhly veqetated, providinq nutrients in the form of leaf litter and insects to intertidal? 1 -1 Connections to subtidal and backshore:(doorways and windows) 46 Is there a clear connection (passaqe/flow) between this system and the adjacent system(s): a) subtidal 1 -1 b) backshore 1 -1 c) adjacent marine ecosystems (saltmarshes, mudflats, intertidal zone) 1 -1 d) adjacent freshwater ecosystems (streams, rivers) 1 -1 47 Is there anythinq visibly blockinq or stoppinq.this flow between systems? -1 1 48 Is this ecosystem easily accessible to human use? -1 1 Politics 49 Is there political will to support, protect, and understand the ecosystem? (shown throuqh $, proqrams, policy) 1 -1 50 Are there policies already in place to achieve the above support, protection, and understandinq? 1 -1 51 Are policies effective in achievinq that support, protection, and understandinq? (are they enforced?) 1 -1 52 Are there stewardship qroups doinq education, restoration, and protection of the system? 1 -1 53 Do people within the watershed take actions that show value and respect for the shoreline ecosystem? 1 -1 Grand Total: Note: The recommended scale for use of TIEHD is as per Shorekeepers' protocol (it may vary from a 25m to a 200 - 300m of shoreline area). 39 2.7 Creating the Evaluation or Scoring for the Diagnostic Tool Each question in the diagnostic tool was given a score guide in the margin beside the answer space. For example, question #4 "Does the system function well without human physical support?" is evaluated as follows: If the answer is Yes, the score in the margin says to give it 1 point, but i f the answer is No, the score is - 1 . These scores were chosen based on what the answers would mean for the presence, functioning and/or interaction of the essential components of an intertidal ecosystem as determined by my definition of ecosystem health and model of intertidal ecosystem health. In the case of question #4 above, when the answer is "yes, the system functions well without human support, we can say that the ecosystem foundations are undiminished, therefore a positive score is given. When the answer is "no, the system does not function well without human support we can say that the foundations of the system are not at a maximum, therefore a negative score is given. Once all 53 questions have been answered, the diagnostic tool is designed so the practitioner can add up all the scores and then use the evaluation key below (Table 2.3) to make a final assessment about the health of the site in question. This evaluation key is very straightforward to use and works just like a typical magazine questionnaire. It is useful to note that the evaluation key is simply a guideline for the practitioner and scores that occur at or close to the cut-off (for example: a score of 0 is at the cut-off) are open to interpretation. 40 Table 2.3 Evaluation Key for the Diagnostic Tool Score Range Diagnosis of intertidal health notes -100 to 0 Very unhealthy, requires further detailed research into the sources and levels of the impacts at this site. Remediation and mitigation required. It is possible to have scores below-100. 1 to 49 Somewhat healthy, requires continued monitoring to ensure that health is not compromised. Some remediation and mitigation is recommended. 50 to 80+ Healthy, continued protection and monitoring is recommended to ensure healthy status. It is possible to have scores above 80. 41 Chapter 3: Application of the Diagnostic Tool 3.1 Testing the Diagnostic Tool To test the applicability and utility of the diagnostic tool, it was used to determine the intertidal ecosystem health in three study sites within the Victoria area. The following sections describe how the study area was chosen, what survey methodology was used to collect information, and exactly how the tool was used to reach conclusions about the health of the test sites. This process allowed for a better understanding of the diagnostic tool and its potential for intertidal ecosystem health assessment along the B.C. coast. This testing was also useful in gauging the utility of the Shorekeepers' protocol (for surveying intertidal areas in B.C.) (Jamieson et al., 1999) as a way to gather data needed to answer questions in the diagnostic tool. 3.2 Quantitative Field Methods: General Species names and abundance data were collected from the intertidal zone in three study sites in Cordova Bay, located on Southern Vancouver Island during the summer of 2004. The study area had known impacts from historic and current human activity with adjacent less impacted sites. The survey methodology used followed the Shorekeepers' protocol for monitoring intertidal habitat in Canada's Pacific Waters (Jamieson et al., 1999). In addition, information on bird diversity and abundance was collected at each site. Information regarding the specific history and current impacts to the study area was also gathered. 3.3 Study Area A study area was chosen based on the following criteria: • Relative ease and safety of access to intertidal habitat 42 • An area with a range of human impacts ranging from high to low • An area with human impacts from non-point sources of pollution (typical of urban beaches) • Ability to find background information on area In addition, as heterogeneity of physical habitat is a determinant of biodiversity, it was important to find a study area in which the habitat is relatively uniform in order to control for any changes in species diversity and other factors due to habitat variability (Raghukumar and Anil , 2003, p.887). The study area chosen was the shoreline of Cordova Bay, located along Haro Strait on the Southeastern side of Southern Vancouver Island (see figure 3.1 and 3.2 for maps of the study area and sites). V A N C O U V E R I*taW Figure 3.1 General location of Study Area (indicated by star). Source: CRD Natural Areas Atlas, 2005. Figure 3.2 Map of study site locations. Source: CRD Natural Areas Atlas, 2005. The oceanographical features of Haro Strait are relevant to the assessment of health in the study area and are discussed in detail by the British Columbia/Washington Marine Science Panel (1994). It is important to note here however, that due to the number of 43 rivers entering into these waters, this area is classified as having estuarine circulation with 90% ocean water and 10% freshwater on average (British Columbia/Washington Marine Science Panel, 1994, p.33). Three study sites were chosen within this area and all are located within Mount Douglas Park boundaries. Mount Douglas Park is considered to be the Corporation of the District of "Saanich's largest and most magnificent park" (Corporation of the District of Saanich, 2004). Site #1 is a part of the Douglas Creek Watershed, whereas sites #2 and #3 are a part of an adjacent watershed draining into Cordova Bay. The Douglas Creek watershed covers an area of 5.5 km in the greater Victoria area (Bocskei et al, 2003, p.15) and is located on the Saanich Peninsula of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The central and upper portion of this watershed had a considerable amount of storm drain infrastructure as it has primarily residential land-use and secondarily parkland and school use. This watershed has become heavily urbanized in me past 60 years and as a result now has over 30% of its area consisting of impermeable surfaces (such as roads, parking lots, and rooftops) (Bocskei et al, 2003, p.16). In order to allow development to continue around and over the creek as well as to provide a more efficient storm water run-off system, City engineers opted to alter the creek and convert it to storm water piping. Today only 800m of the original Douglas creek exists, the remaining 1.1 km are now enclosed in a pipe (Bocskei et al, 2003, p. 17). This has resulted in many problems for the remaining creek ecosystem as the creek now deals with very high peak flows of 325 L/s during winter storm events, as well as very low base flows of 8.4 L/s during the summer dry periods (Bocskei et al, 2003, p.3). These high peak flows have resulted in major scouring of the streambed and the subsequent deposition of gravel and fine sediments on the shoreline at the mouth of the creek. The result is a lack of suitable habitat for fish and other freshwater wildlife, and a completely altered nutrient regime (Browne et al, 2003. p.l) In addition, it is widely known that as 44 urbanization occurs, not only does the volume of water being discharged into creeks increase, but so does the amount of pollutants (see Chapter 1). The watershed that drains into the area of sites #2 and 3 is largely residential with some agricultural use. There is one major roadway running through the watershed although it is still only one lane in each direction. The majority of storm drains for this watershed drain into Cordova Bay a few kilometers North of Site #3 with the exception of one which outfalls in the backshore of site #3 and one which outfalls near site #1. The specific study sites were chosen to reflect the differing intensities of impacts ranging from a site directly at the point of impact to a site furthest away from the point of impact, as well as one site in between. The human impacts and other relevant characteristics at each study site are discussed in more detail in the next section. 3.4 Study Sites: Human impacts and relevant features Table 3.1 Impacts at each Cordova Bay study site Study Sites: Site #1 (Douglas creek) Site #2 north of creek Site #3 north of site #2 Impacts: Urban run-off (high) Urban run-off (very low) Urban run-off (very low) Storm/Sewer overflow No storm/sewer influence No storm/sewer Erosion of backshore Recreation (high) Recreation (mid to low) Recreation (very low) Classification of Overall Disturbance Level High Medium Low 45 Study site #1: Cordova Bay Beach #1 This site is located directly at the mouth of Douglas Creek. It includes the shoreline area where the creek discharges and meets the ocean. As a result of the freshwater influence of the creek it may be difficult to distinguish any effects from pollutants in the creek from that of the freshwater alone, on the marine shoreline. The habitat in this site consists mainly of sand with some bare cobble/pebble areas, and some Wva-covered cobble/pebble areas. The backshore is a mixed deciduous/coniferous forest on a steep slope leading up to more parkland. The immediate (at waterline at low tide) subtidal habitat is sand with scattered boulders and mixed macroalgae. This site was chosen as the study site of highest impact due to the incoming pollutants from the creek and their subsequent deposition in the intertidal zone at low tide. There has been much data collected in this creek in order to determine its health: mainly for fish habitat assessment and salmonid enhancement purposes. A recent report commissioned by the Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society and written by students from Royal Roads University, concluded that Douglas Creek was in very poor condition (Browne et al, 2003, p.71). This report used indicators from factors such as benthic macroinvertebrate populations and fecal coliform bacteria, as well, as physical habitat to make an assessment. Benthic macroinvertebrates are known to be useful indicators of change in stream health over long periods of time. Although invertebrate populations react quickly to chemical and biological factors such as pollution events and changing nutrient concentrations, . invertebrates are considered long-term indicators because they do not recover quickly from such events (Browne et al, 2003, p.3). A critical indicator of pollution related stress on benthic invertebrates in an aquatic ecosystem is the EPT ratio. Ephemoptera, Plecoptera, and Tricoptera (EPT) are all invertebrate orders known to be intolerant of 46 polluted habitats. The EPT ratio compares the number of pollution tolerant species to the number of pollution intolerant species in a system. In the study done by Browne et al. (2003, p.57), the EPT ratio "suggest(ed) relatively high pollution levels throughout the length of Douglas Creek." The study concluded that "pollution tolerant species (such as Chironomid pupae and larvae) dominate the Douglas Creek invertebrate communities, and that the evenness and diversity of these communities is poor to fair" (Browne et al., 2003. p.64). Similar studies of benthic macroinvertebrates in Douglas Creek, undertaken by the Friends of Mount Douglas Society in previous years (Browne et al., 2003.) corroborate these findings. In addition to the benthic macroinvertebrate data, the fecal coliform bacteria surveys showed that Douglas Creek frequently has had fecal coliform counts well over the recreational health limit of 200 cfu/lOOmL over the past 12 years (CRD Natural Areas Atlas, 2005). Coliforms are: "bacteria that are found in large numbers in the intestinal tracts of humans and other warm-blooded animals, as well as in soil and water" (Browne et al, 2003. p.7). Fecal coliforms are unable to multiply in freshwater in temperate climates, so when they are present in an ecosystem they suggest an outside source (such as sewer system leakage or dog-walking trails nearby). In any system with flowing water, fecal coliforms will quickly be diluted and swept into the marine environment. Therefore, while invertebrate population data are a long-term indicator of pollution stress, fecal coliform bacteria data indicates short-term contamination. Fecal coliform bacteria are not generally pathogenic, but are an indicator of potential pathogens that may pose a health risk to humans and other life. If fecal coliforms are coming from a source such as an overflowing or leaky sewer system, the chances are high that there are also nitrates, phosphates, heavy metals and medical "debris" entering into the creek (Browne et al, 2003. p7). It has already been established (in Chapter 1) that besides the usual human biological liquid and solid wastes that the sewer systems were designed to handle, much more than that is actually disposed of via this route. Therefore the presence of high fecal coliform counts in the creek from the sewer system, suggests that many other contaminants are also entering the creek. 47 j According to the Capital Regional District's Annual Stormwater Quality Report (Cameron & Mount, 2004), Douglas Creek is rated of moderate public health concern, low environmental concern, and low on contaminants for 2003. For 2002, fecal coliform counts in Douglas Creek measured 220 and 60 fecal coliforms/lOOmL for the Wet and Dry seasons respectively. In 2001, fecal coliforms measured 750 and 70 fecal coliforms/lOOmL for the wet and dry seasons respectively. The CRD has rated Douglas Creek as a moderate public health concern due to the high public usage of the trails and park area around the creek, as well as the fact that it is designed to handle sewage pump station overflow. In addition to measuring fecal coliforms in the stormwater throughout the Capital Regional District, the Stormwater Quality Program also measures contaminants in stormwater sediments at various stations in the area. The sampling station in Douglas Creek (outlet 0559) is consistently rated low and well under Marine Sediment Quality Guidelines (CRD standards) for all of the contaminants tested. These include; Arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, silver, zinc, low molecular weight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (LPAH), high molecular weight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (HPAH). It is important to note, however that this testing only takes place every three or four years, not annually. There is also evidence that Douglas Creek is prone to spills from various sources within the watershed. On July 27, 2003 there was a large scale raw sewage release into Douglas Creek when the sanitary sewer pump station nearby backed up and overflowed into the creek (Browne et al, 2003, p.65). Fecal coliform bacteria at the mouth of the creek the day after the spill measured 9800 fecal coliforms/lOOmL. Then at the same spot two days after the spill fecal coliform counts measured 6800 fecal coliforms/lOOmL. On June 19, 2003 500,000 litres of treated drinking water spilled into Douglas creek from the Victoria drinking water distribution system (Browne et al, 2003, p.68). Victoria's drinking water is treated with chloramines, which destroy 60% of the bacteria population and 88% of the coliform population in the water, according to Browne et al, (2003, p.68). This kind of 48 spill has potential impacts on the natural bacterial ecology of the creek as well as increasing the usual freshwater influence on the intertidal area at the mouth of the creek for this time of year (dry season). In addition to the potential impacts of the pollutant load from Douglas Creek, this study site has the highest level of human trampling and least shade from backshore vegetation than the other two study sites. It is difficult to estimate the amount of human traffic through this site, however as it is located within a few meters of the only entrance trail onto this public beach area it is safe to say that the majority of the visitors to the beach at Mount Douglas Park walk through, picnic, walk their dog(s) or otherwise use this site for recreation at some point (if not the whole time) during their visit. Study Site 2: Cordova Bay Beach #2 This site is located approximately 227m Northwest from site #1. It was chosen as an intermediate site to show the gradation of human impacts from the creek in site #1. This site is much further away from the park's entrance than site #1 and therefore has a somewhat lower rate of human impacts from recreation such as dog-walking, garbage from picnicking, and trampling. The habitat at this site is sand and boulders with some areas of Viva covering the boulders. The backshore is a mixed deciduous/coniferous forest with a steep slope leading up to more parkland. The immediate subtidal habitat is sand with boulders and mixed macroalgae. There is evidence of erosion in the backshore and this site has undergone some revetment with the addition of rip rap beginning in 1971 and again in 1989, and plans are in the works for further revetment to occur during the summer of 2005 (Corporation of the District of Saanich, 2004). There is also evidence of fine sediments in the waters at this site (as in all three study sites) apparently coming from D'Arcy, James, and Sydney 49 Islands (Corporation of the District of Saanich, 2004). Net sediment transport, according to Saanich engineers is likely southward and the overall volumes are considered low. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the currents within Cordova Bay are such that water circulation flows southward away from sites 2 and 3, potentially bringing with it the contaminants from the creek (Bridgeman, pers. comm.). There is one storm drain outfall in the area of this site, although Capital Regional District (CRD) stormwater sampling has shown that in 2002 there was no flow and therefore no fecal coliforms. This particular storm drain outfall (#0560) is of little or no public health concern or environmental concern as rated by the CRD and therefore is not sampled annually. Saanich drainage maps and ground-truthing of the area emptying onto the. shoreline in Site #2 suggest that this site is not receiving any direct pollutants with the exception of some run-off from the residents in the immediate backshore which should enter into the storm drain system and then empty into Douglas creek. There was some freshwater run-off coming from the steeply sloping backshore entering the intertidal area of site #2, but this was a minimal source of freshwater during field collections. From this information, it was concluded that this site would be an appropriate intermediate study site to show the gradation of health from site #1 to site #3. Study Site 3: Cordova Bay Beach #3 Site #3 is located another 300m Northwest of site #2 and is 527m from site #1. It is the site furthest from Douglas Creek and therefore furthest from the Park entrance trail. Due to the distance from the entrance trail, as well as the fact that it is only accessible at a very low tide this site receives very little human visitation. Unlike site #1 and 2, there are no immediate obvious human impacts. This site does have a stormwater outfall that discharges into the nearby backshore area, but CRD sampling has not found any fecal coliform or metal contaminants. There is however, evidence of extreme erosion and 50 backshore slumping into the high intertidal zone. Vegetation has been disheveled and Saanich is currently looking at a new plan for revetment of the cliffs here. There is a fair amount of freshwater run-off coming from the sloping backshore and into the intertidal area even during the summer low flow period. The source of this freshwater is the water table and the nature of the geology and soils in this area (including the entire park backshore area) is such that water sits near the surface and cannot permeate the underlying bedrock layer (Bocskei et al, 2003). The habitat here is sand and cobble with (//va-covered cobble and boulders. The backshore is as in sites #1 and #2: mixed deciduous/coniferous forest on a steep slope leading up to private land with a few well-spaced homes. The immediate subtidal habitat is sand with scattered boulders and mixed macroalgae. Based on this information, it was decided that this site would be an appropriate low impact study site to compare with sites #1 and #2. 3.5 Intertidal survey and mapping protocol The shorekeepers' protocol for monitoring intertidal habitats in Canada's Pacific waters (Jamieson et al., 1999) was used to collect relevant information in each study site. This survey methodology has been widely used within British Columbia over the past several years by a variety of groups including environmental non-governmental organizations, high school classes, Provincial and Federal government, as well as First Nations Fisheries. This protocol was tested and evaluated for precision and accuracy and detailed results of the evaluation can be found in Jamieson et al. (2002). It was found that the protocol and resulting data are more useful for long term monitoring than to detect changes over the short term. In addition, the report outlines current problems with and recommendations for the Shorekeepers' database and its utility, which does not have a great deal of relevance to the research in this thesis, except to support the need for a diagnostic tool that is usable in the end. Other intertidal survey protocols are discussed and compared in Chapter 1. The Shorekeepers' methodology was chosen because of my 51 familiarity with it, having used it many times in the field, which meant that the potential for error during field collection would be minimized. In addition, as there was no funding for field assistants or specialized equipment, using the Shorekeepers' protocol meant that I could train my volunteer assistants (having been certified to train Shorekeepers' users) and borrow the required equipment from Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The Shorekeepers' protocol involves monitoring an intertidal study site that is a minimum of 50m in length. For my purposes, all study sites were surveyed using a 50 metre length baseline. The protocol requires that the entire site is mapped, showing the different habitats and their respective sizes as well as any other relevant features. The following measurements were taken within each habitat (according to the Shorekeepers' protocol): slope, maximum and minimum elevation, and habitat area. In addition, the substrates present in each habitat were recorded. For each habitat present within the study site, three transects are placed equidistant from one another. Along each transect 2 to 3 quadrats are laid out equidistant from one another. For the purposes of my research, quadrats were 25cm x 25cm. As the majority of the habitats found in the study sites consisted of soft-substrate, sampling occurred down to 10cm within the substrate as well. Sampling within the quadrats involved recording every organism visible to the naked eye on the surface, below rocks and algae, and within the substrate. Species names and abundance were recorded on data sheets according to the Shorekeepers' protocol, as was information about backshore vegetation and human activity. Additional information (above and beyond that required by the protocol) regarding human impacts in the backshore and the intertidal zones of each study site were collected for my research purposes. This information was gathered from Municipal and academic reports and included drainage maps from Municipal engineers. 3.6 Bird Surveys 52 Surveys of all bird species and number of individuals were recorded at each site with two replications. The bird survey protocol was simple and self-created with some consultation with the Victoria Natural History Society's seasonal bird count methodology (www.vicnhs.bc.ca'). A l l six of the bird surveys were completed during the summer of 2004 and involved recording all bird species found within each survey site during a specific 4 hour observation period. A l l observations were made 1 hour before and 3 hours after the low tide time. I observed from as close to the backshore as possible in order to minimize disturbance to the birds. Using binoculars and a field guide to Northwestern birds I identified each bird that entered into the study site. Birds that left the study site and re-entered at a later time within the observation period were recorded as separate individuals due to the difficulty of discriminating between individual birds. Birds found in the immediate backshore (within a few metres of the high tide zone) were included in the study. Birds found in the water within a few metres of the shoreline were also included in the observations. Two sets of observational data for each site were totaled and were used in conjunction with the intertidal invertebrate and algae data to assess health along the Cordova bay shoreline with the diagnostic tool. 3.7 Using the Diagnostic Tool at Cordova Bay Study Sites Using the data gathered from the Shorekeeper's surveys, bird surveys, and background reports on stormwater and habitat in Cordova bay, the questions in the diagnostic tool were answered for each study site. Where questions were not applicable to the specific site being assessed the n/a column was checked off and no score was given. Any questions that were not specific enough to be answered reasonably without further information, were noted as such for future alteration and improvement. Some questions were answered using an educated guess, as the intertidal survey protocol did not call for certain measurements (such as salinity, temperature, or turbidity) to be made or allow for specific pieces of data to be gathered. 53 In deciding on the answer that best fits the question for the study site being assessed, subjective judgements were made based on my specific knowledge and experience in the field. This is necessary in any assessment work and must be acknowledged. Once a 'yes' or 'no' answer was decided upon for each question, the appropriate score indicated in the score column corresponding to the answer (yes or no) was recorded in the total column. The tool is designed so that scoring does not need to be done in the field, but can be completed at a later time, as long as the yes or no answers are indicated in the appropriate boxes with an X or a checkmark. Recording answers clearly and consistently is important to be able to decipher the assessment results later on. Once the assessment was completed, a grand total score was calculated by simply summing all of the scores for the 53 questions and then recorded in the appropriate box. 3.8 Tool for Intertidal Ecosystem Health (TIEHD) test results in Cordova Bay A final score was calculated for all three of the Cordova Bay study sites. Using the diagnostic tool, the following scores were found: Site #1: -8, Site #2: 23, Site #3: 35. The score corresponds with the level of health of the ecosystem, so that the higher the score - the higher the level of health, according to the diagnostic tool. Using the key to evaluation (Table 2.3), the scores are interpreted and it is concluded that site #1 is very unhealthy. Having a score below zero at site #1 means that more detailed research and testing is necessary to determine specific sources and the level of impact from those sources. This information would be necessary for restoration and mitigation of impacts, which is required at this level of health. Site #2 and #3 were assessed as being somewhat healthy, but requiring continued monitoring and further research i f mitigation of current impacts is to occur. Mitigation of impacts was recommended at this level of health. The breakdown of the scores for each category for all sites is summarized in Table 3.2 and is helpful to see where sites are impacted. 54 Table 3.2 Breakdown of assessment scores by category for Cordova Bay study sites Category Maximum scores Site #1 (at creek) Site #2 Site #3 Foundation 4 1 2 2 Habitat 15 5 8 8 Watershed 8 -11 -2 -2 Water 8 3 4 4 Air 5 0 -2 0 Maintenance 5 -5 -3 1 Organization 7 -4 2 4 Food 9 5 9 9 Recycling 4 -1 2 2 Storage 4 -2 2 2 Connections 6 2 2 6 Politics 5 -1 -1 -1 Total Scores: 80 -8 23 35 3.9 Interpretation of assessment results for Cordova Bay In general, the assessment results for the three study sites within Cordova Bay met my expectations, specifically regarding how they ranked relative to one another. Given that the impacts for site #1 were most severe and numerous, it is not surprising that this site ranked lowest of the three sites. Site #2 had more impacts than site #3 and therefore it was also expected that site #2 would rank lower than #3 in the assessment of ecosystem health. In regards to the evaluation of scores for sites #1-3, again I had expected that site #1 would be found unhealthy, and #2 would be found to be somewhat healthy. However, site #3 appeared to be healthier in the field survey than when the diagnostic tool was applied 55 to the survey data and the site was diagnosed as only somewhat healthy. Upon reflection, considering that this site is still in an urban watershed and is still relatively close to the other two less healthy areas, it would make sense that the overall health and therefore the final assessment would reflect this proximity. Upon closer examination of assessment results using the diagnostic tool, it appears that the ability to look at the scores by category is helpful in pinpointing problem areas for each site. In the case of Cordova Bay, the watershed itself was a major source of negative scores and therefore negative impacts. The land-use in the watershed for Douglas Creek is a mixture of residential, commercial, and transportation, with little agricultural use. The storm water run-off in this watershed has already been identified as problematic in a number of reports and enters onto the shoreline directly via Douglas Creek in site #1. The scoring for the watershed category at Site #1 would be representative of the majority of urban shoreline areas in the Victoria area. Sites #2 and #3 are more rare in that they do not have storm water outfalls discharging directly onto the beach, this is reflected in the higher scoring for both sites in the watershed category. Site #1 lost a number of points in the habitat category due to the impacts of urban and storm-water run-off. The amount of human disturbance there has caused the low score in the maintenance category, meaning that human impacts are so frequent that the ecosystem is consistently dealing with added stress, without time to recuperate. The fact that cobble and boulders were colonized only by short-lived, opportunistic species means that the site is not able to support the longer-lived, more specialized species, suggesting that frequent disturbance has not allowed for expansion and growth of the system beyond a disturbed state. In addition, ecosystem services were significantly diminished at this site and resulted in a low score for the organization category. In the food category, site #1 was lacking top predators, suggesting that the food chain is limited in extent. Site #2 scored significantly higher than site #1 largely as a result of its distance from Douglas Creek, and the pollutants it brings in to the shoreline. As in site #1, the human disturbance at this site was a source of negative scores, as was the fact that the majority 56 (though not all) of species found in the site were short-lived and opportunistic. In addition, construction that was taking place in the backshore of site #2 had an impact on the overall score as a result of the noise pollution it was creating. Site #3 received a fairly high score overall but lost many points in categories that overlapped with sites #1 and #2. Despite the diversity of species found at this site, watershed characteristics, political weaknesses, and excess sediment from erosion of the backshore and nearby islands are currently threatening and impacting ecosystem health here. Overall, the Cordova Bay study sites were representative of typical intertidal sites along Victoria's urbanized coastline and ranged from unhealthy to somewhat healthy. 57 Chapter 4: Diagnostic Tool Discussion and Conclusions 4.1 Strengths and weaknesses of the diagnostic tool It is necessary at this point to evaluate the diagnostic tool with regard to its utility, accuracy, and ability to meet the needs of the coastal zone management practitioner. Quotes from the qualitative interview portion of this research are referred to in this section as a reminder of why the criteria for evaluating the tool were chosen. As the main goals of this research were to create a tool that allowed practitioners to assess health in the intertidal ecosystem in a more simple, cost-effective, and holistic way, the tool would be considered ineffective i f it did not address those points. Table 4.1 summarizes the strengths and weaknesses in the diagnostic tool, discussed below in detail. Table 4.1 Summary of strengths and weaknesses of the Toolfor Intertidal Ecosystem Health Diagnosis. Quality/characteristic Strength Weakness Time required for assessment Very short assessment time required Snapshot assessment (trends not included) Simple/Straight-forward Very simple and straight forward to use overall Cost and equipment required Minimal cost and equipment required to complete an assessment Training and Experience Required Understanding and experience of ecological principles is required Use with other survey methods Easily used in cooperation with other survey methods 58 Quality/characteristic Strength Weakness Reliability Results are repeatable and interpreted using consistent criteria Unknown reliability at this early stage, further testing required Validity Unknown validity, further testing required Adaptability Likely to be easily adapted to variety of locations and conditions Limits of the tool are as yet unknown Holistic / integrated Integrates data from biological, chemical, physical, and human factors Could be improved, with further depth of research During the testing of the diagnostic tool with the Cordova Bay study site data, it was found that once data were collected, it took approximately 1 hour per site (on average) to complete the assessment using the diagnostic tool, including the summation of scores. For the purposes of this thesis research, data collection in the field was a time-consuming portion of the assessment process requiring two full field days per site plus many more hours researching background data and consulting maps, charts, and local experts. Measurements such as slope, elevation, and detailed habitat mapping were completed in the field in order to ensure that sufficient data was collected to satisfy the requirements of the Shorekeepers' protocol as well as potential uses in this research. In future, the time required for data collection could easily be minimized by cutting out unnecessary tasks. This includes all the measurements listed above (slope, elevation, detailed habitat mapping). These measurements, however, are useful i f the tool is going to be used to show trends over time in features such as movement of substrates and other physical habitat changes. 59 While it could potentially take a lot of research, and therefore time, to answer some of the questions in the diagnostic tool, practitioners that are familiar with their site(s) should have no trouble finding and using background information to answer the questions. For example, coastal zone management experts working in government or environmental non-profits typically work in a specific geographic area, they know the sites that are within their region and have information about the drainage area, know about the history of restoration projects, and know where to go for access to further background information. In addition to collecting field data, it is necessary to become familiar with the data in order to answer diagnostic tool questions. This involves reading over the data and relevant background reports, allowing time for assimilation and processing of the data in one's mind. The assessment time of 1 hour is a comparatively short amount of time to reach a conclusion about the health of an intertidal site. Other assessment methods require in depth statistical analyses in which inputting the data into the computer alone often requires a minimum of one hour. PRIMER 5, for example, is a statistical software package designed specifically for analyzing and interpreting change in marine communities (Clarke and Warwick, 2001). The program can perform a wide variety of' analyses on marine community data, from simple measures of species similarity and diversity to more complex multivariate measures of community stress and multi-dimensional scaling. Once field data is collected, one must choose an appropriate analysis to answer the specific question being asked and then enter the data properly into the program. The computer will perform the statistical analysis and come up with a number or many numbers that the researcher must then interpret. Once again there are currently no specific standards of health to compare numbers against and so the only relevant analysis to be done using PRIMER 5 is one using time series data to study trends. While there is no substitute for regular monitoring and time series data to assess ecosystem changes in many circumstances this is not possible. Two interview respondents felt that time restraints were a challenge and a concern in managing coastal ecosystems, and one respondent asked: "how long are we going to have fish habitat?" 60 Projects in the coastal zone may be delayed many years awaiting field data showing ecosystem trends. A shorter assessment time allows for quicker results and less lag time for decision-making in coastal areas. The majority of interview respondents felt that a lack of funding was a gap and a challenge to their work in coastal areas. A shorter assessment time often results in less staff time required and therefore less funding needed. The ease and speed in using the diagnostic tool is somewhat dependant on one's previous experience, knowledge, understanding of the terms used, and of the site itself. However, considering my experience, knowledge and study sites, the tool proved simple and straightforward to use. Some initial questions were not simple to answer and this was evidence that the questions themselves were ambiguous and unclear. These questions were adjusted to aid the practitioner in deciphering their application in the field. Even after diagnostic tool questions were revised, there remain a few that are more challenging to answer than the others. These questions also require more in-depth knowledge of the intertidal ecosystem and ecological principles in general to answer, so some specific species to look for that provide the service in question were added. These questions include: #34d. "Are there a variety of ecosystem services being provided? [specifically:] Water purification." #34e. "Are there a variety of ecosystem services being provided? [specifically:] Detoxification of human wastes." To answer question 34d, the user would have to know that mussels and oysters remove phytoplankton and particulate matter from the surrounding water and so the service of water purification in the intertidal system could be facilitated by their presence (Peterson and Lubchenko, 1997, p. 182). Also, algae and eelgrass are known to actively take up metals present in the water and thus perform some water purification service as well 61 (DeWreede, pers. comm.; Wright, pers. comm..). If there were little or no mussels, oysters, algae or eelgrass in a site the question would be answered "no" water purification is not being provided. To answer question 34e, the user must know that the service of transforming, sequestering and detoxifying human wastes that have entered the marine ecosystem is performed mainly by bacteria, phytoplankton, and wetland vegetation. These organisms take up the excess nutrients from sewage effluent or run-off, removing them from the water (Peterson and Lubchenko, 1997, p. 181). Although these questions require more background knowledge and thought to answer than the other questions in the tool, they remain an important part of the diagnostic tool due to their role in assessing whether or not essential ecosystem services are being provided by the marine ecosystem. To aid the practitioner to find out more about each question and how it indicates intertidal health, one or more references for each section are provided along side each diagnostic tool question. The full diagnostic tool with references is found in Appendix C. Keeping the diagnostic tool very straight-forward to use without compromising the validity and reliability is key. Coastal zone managers are able to complete the full assessment themselves and can then see how the assessment questions lead very directly to the final scoring and overall diagnosis of health. In assessment processes where the final assessment is completed by an expert 'outside' of the project being undertaken, there are many potential downfalls. First, this person may not have the specific knowledge and experience of the site being assessed and will rely most heavily on the field notes and data available, potentially lacking a more rounded impression of the ecosystem as a whole. Second, there may be a time lag between field data collection and assessment completion, which can result in a disconnection between these phases, losing momentum in coastal projects. The value of having an assessment process and tool that is accessible to coastal zone managers who may not necessarily be experts, but have surmountable knowledge and experience in the field, is that more assessments are likely to be undertaken. For example, the Shorekeepers' protocol for monitoring intertidal areas is used by non-experts all along the B.C. coast. These users come from a variety of 62 backgrounds, with one thing in common: they all have a great deal of experience in the intertidal zone and a desire to conserve intertidal ecosystems. The problem is that once the data has been collected, users must either wait for Fisheries and Oceans Canada research scientists to analyze it, assuming that they have time and funding is found to pay for it, or they can choose to analyze the data using the methods currently available to them as discussed in this thesis. The diagnostic tool is simple enough that any of the organizations or institutions having staff proficient enough to use the Shorekeepers' protocol could go on to complete their own assessment of intertidal ecosystem health. An added benefit of Shorekeepers' users implementing the diagnostic tool is that the assessments would be comparable between sites, so in a very short period of time there could be a large increase in our knowledge of intertidal health along B.C.'s coast. Many of the interview respondents expressed frustration with the current lack of support they received from Fisheries and Oceans Canada in their work as a result of recent funding cut-backs. The question arises; why is this tool a better assessment than a careful visual assessment? The answer is that it provides a set standard for all practitioners to work from. A n interview respondent discussed the challenges of assessing the shoreline area and stated; ".. .the biggest gap.. .there was no real set standard - we were going on intuition. I am not a marine biologist -1 am an ecologist." The diagnostic tool provides a set standard of health to measure shoreline ecosystems. The state of health is not a static one nor is it simple to define, let alone assess in the field, yet the diagnostic tool allows practitioners to compare ecosystem health in a very straight forward way so that at the very least coastal zone managers are all working from the same standards. Currently, there are no widely accepted standards in place (Karr, 1992, p.23 5) and the diagnostic tool is a starting place from which to build a standard. Since cost is always an important consideration in the implementation of scientific tools, we must consider the cost-effectiveness of the diagnostic tool as a way to assess the health of intertidal ecosystems. Four of the six interview respondents felt that the cost of monitoring and assessing intertidal ecosystems was a gap or a challenge to their work. 63 From the very preliminary testing that has been done, the short time required to complete the assessment (once the data are gathered) means that costs of paying staff for this are minimal. In addition, the fact that there is no computer software or other equipment required to complete the assessment means there are no extra costs above that required for data collection in the field and familiarization with the data before assessment. Completing regular health assessments and being able to diagnose sites as somewhat unhealthy and requiring restoration early on means that less funding will be required for major restoration work in the future. Another important note about cost is that the diagnostic tool can save money by determining i f more rigorous and in-depth testing is required at a site. Since the tool does not distinguish between 'somewhat unhealthy' and 'very unhealthy' sites at this stage in its development, practitioners are required to initiate further testing of sites considered 'unhealthy' in the overall evaluation. The diagnostic tool could be used as an initial assessment in order to better manage and plan further testing and remediation, potentially saving a great deal of time, money, and resources. As mentioned previously, the categories used in the tool are very useful for pinpointing where the main problems are and therefore would be helpful to focus more specialized tests. When compared to costs of implementing other available approaches for assessing intertidal health, TIEHD comes out on top. Approaches to health assessment that require long-term data to analyze ecosystem trends (Xu et al, 2004) are presumably more expensive due to the amount of staff time required for data collection. In addition, X u et al. (2004) outline an assessment approach that needs to be tailored to each specific site being assessed, requiring extra time and further increasing cost. The University of Queensland Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program (EHMP) (2005) and Mark et al. (2003) provide approaches to intertidal health assessment that require expensive technical testing of chemical and biological parameters, such as toxicity testing of clams and phytoplankton bioassays. TIEHD is a snapshot assessment of intertidal health that does not require long-term monitoring or any technical testing beyond what is readily available through government monitoring, such as storm water and shellfish monitoring programs. 64 The expertise and training a person would require to use this diagnostic tool can be quickly learned and applied by persons with a background in ecology and a short training course in the diagnostic tool. This training course would function to ensure an understanding of the terms used and the concepts being utilized in TIEHD. It could easily be added on to any training already in place for the data collection portion of the assessment. For example, Fisheries and Oceans Canada's Shorekeepers' protocol requires about 2.5 days of training in preparation for the field surveys. Another 2 hours of training on the use of the diagnostic tool is all that would be required to ensure that practitioners could use the tool effectively. TIEHD was designed for use by professionals in the field of marine ecosystem health from all sectors, and so can be applied by coastal zone managers who would not be considered experts in marine biology or ecology. Half of the interview respondents felt that an assessment tool that was accessible to non-experts in marine ecology would be beneficial to their work. These respondents expressed a need for an assessment tool that was relatively easy to understand and learn. Assessment tools considered to be simple and easy to use, such as the Coastal/Estuarine Fish Habitat Description and Assessment Manual (Williams, 1989), while being accessible to non-experts do not provide a holistic or even integrated approach to ecosystem health evaluation. Other current assessment tools (Xu et al, 2004; Mark et al, 2003; University of Queensland, 2005) require a variety of experts to interpret results of chemical and biological tests. Although the tool was designed with intertidal ecosystems along the Southern Vancouver Island region in mind, it is likely that TIEHD could be used anywhere along B.C.'s coast. The questions in the tool are specific to intertidal ecosystems on the Pacific Northwest, as this is the area most familiar to the researcher. Intertidal systems in the Arctic region or in the tropics are impacted by some human activities not found in temperate regions, in addition to the large difference in habitat structure and essential processes required for a healthy ecosystem. It is unknown in this early phase of development whether or not the tool is versatile and still effective in all varieties of habitats and locations, but at this point 65 there is no evidence of limitations for TIEHD's use in B.C. However, further testing is required to answer such questions with certainty. The assessment by Mark et al. (2003) is not widely applicable as it is focused on the Mya-Macoma clam community on Canada's east coast. The framework used to create this assessment may be applicable in other habitats, but would require significant work to adapt it. The geophysical approach to monitoring marine habitats proposed by Roff et al. (2003) was designed to be widely applicable to the entire Canadian coastline. This approach however, does not allow for an overall assessment of ecosystem health in the intertidal zone, only a classification and mapping method to monitor habitat. A useful feature of the diagnostic tool is that it can be used in coordination with a variety of field sampling methods. In field tests at Cordova Bay, the Shorekeepers' methodology was useful in collecting biological and physical information required to answer the diagnostic tool questions and becoming familiar with the sites. A downfall of using this sampling protocol, however, is that it requires the collection of extra information, requiring more time at the survey sites than was really necessary to complete the diagnostic tool. Depending on the coastal zone management objectives, this extra data collected through Shorekeepers' methodology may be required for other purposes besides the snapshot assessment of ecosystem health, such as looking at trends in slope stability over time. As for chemical and adjacent land-use data, which are not required for the majority of intertidal survey protocols, this has to be collected independently of most field survey protocols. Regardless of cost, training requirements, and adaptability, any scientific tool must have two characteristics in order for it to be considered useful and the results accurate. The first characteristic is 'reliability'. Reliability is synonymous with consistency, therefore i f a result is reliable, it can be obtained repeatedly (Palys, 1992, p.411). Reliability can be determined in a few ways: 1) test-retest reliability, where the same site would be tested a few times by the same criterion; and 2) inter-rater reliability, when different people use the same criterion to test the same site. In either case, i f the results differ, then reliability 66 is poor. In the case of the intertidal health diagnostic tool, although we know that the criterion used to assess health are the same 53 questions for all sites, the reliability of the tool is currently unknown and can not be known until further testing takes place using both the test-retest and inter-rater techniques. This testing will require many hours of further work not feasible within the scope of this thesis - largely due to a lack of funding. The second characteristic required for the diagnostic tool to be considered appropriate and worthy of assessing intertidal health, once reliability is established, is validity. Validity deals with the question of whether the diagnostic tool is indeed measuring what it was designed to measure: intertidal health (Palys, 1992, p.416). Again, since the tool is still in the early phase of development, its validity is currently unknown and requires further testing to ensure that it is indeed measuring intertidal ecosystem health and not some other phenomenon. It can be said that the tool does have 'face validity' though, in that it appears to measure what it was intended to measure as judged by a knowledgeable person (myself in this case) (Palys, 1992, p.404). This is a very weak measure of validity, considering that I designed the tool and tested it myself, where an unbiased test by an outside practitioner would have made a stronger case for validity here. However, to determine the tool's validity beyond how it appears on the surface will require a great deal of testing, which again is beyond the scope of this thesis. A potential challenge in testing the validity of TIEHD is the fact that ecosystem health is not a static state with measurable features that have been standardized and accepted as THE measure of health for an intertidal ecosystem. This means that before the validity can truly be tested, some widely accepted measure of it would have to be established. Currently, we continue to measure ecosystem health based on our established definitions of health derived from our values and perceptions about what this state of health is. Some discussion of the weighting of scores in the diagnostic tool is required to understand how the scoring works to determine health. Scores were carefully assigned to each question so as not to allow for double weighting of one particular indicator of health. Equal weighting of certain indicators might at first consideration seem 67 inappropriate, for example: deducting the same number of points for noise pollution as for water pollution. This diagnostic tool, however, aims for an holistic assessment, and by counting noise pollutants as detrimental to the ecosystem it is acknowledging and accounting for the effects of human-made noise in the air and water. These effects are often overlooked and considered minor, despite evidence that noise greatly effects wildlife behaviour (Foreman and Alexander, 1998), as well as stress levels in marine mammals (Fair and Becker, 2000) and the ability of marine fish, mammals, and birds to detect signals regarding prey, predators, and navigation (CLFSMM, 1994). The diagnostic tool, in my opinion, fairly represents the negative effects of noise on ecosystem health. Regarding whether the tool provides an holistic assessment, TIEHD does integrate a number of factors, including biological, chemical, physical and human, to provide a more holistic assessment of intertidal ecosystem health. In developing the tool, questions were included that indicate whether essential structures and functions were present, and the linkages between the structures and functions were intact. The assessment therefore provides an ecosystem approach and includes humans within the ecosystem. Five out of six of the interview respondents use socioeconomic factors in their assessments of ecosystem health, and two of these respondents expressed a need for a more holistic assessment of ecosystem health. Unfortunately, the quantitative research tool used in the interview process did not specifically ask respondents to identify how they defined 'holistic' or what specifically would allow an assessment tool to be considered 'more holistic'. This appears to be a weakness in the creation process of TIEHD. When compared to other approaches to assessing ecosystem health, TIEHD is fairly strong in the area of human social and economic indicators reflecting ecosystem health (Berkes and Folke, 1998). Such indicators, as outlined by interview respondents, could include measurements of the type and quality of relationship between governmental resource management institutions and the community as a whole or a specific population within the community, Indigenous peoples for example. Measurements of change in 68 socioeconomic status, infant mortality, and nutrition levels are also indicators of the social and economic health of a community relevant to assessing ecosystem health. None of the assessment tools and approaches outlined initially in chapter one included socioeconomic indicators (or any human-related indicators besides impacts) in their assessment. TIEHD not only includes questions about the land-use in the surrounding watershed of intertidal ecosystems and the existence of all types of human impacts, but also includes a whole category of questions regarding the politics in the surrounding area. The answers to these questions are very related to the socioeconomic characteristics of an area. There may be room in TIEHD for improvement by including questions that are direct indicators of social and economic factors relevant to ecosystem health, as listed above. For practitioners and groups that are interested in keeping long-term records of their assessments and comparing them from year to year or over longer periods of time, a database would be required. The simple layout and design of the diagnostic tool means that data could very easily be transferred to a database and used in a variety of ways for years to come. The issue of whether long-term data will be comparable from year to year would be addressed by testing the inter-rater reliability, as discussed briefly above. Assuming that the same person was doing the assessments from year to year and using the exact same interpretation of the questions as in previous assessments, comparability of long-term data would be possible. The diagnostic tool, therefore, appears to be practical and beneficial for coastal zone management practitioners to use in the following ways: it requires little or no extra costs beyond field collection/monitoring, it is relatively simple and straight-forward yet integrates a variety of factors that allow a more holistic approach, it can be combined with other methods of surveying intertidal areas, it provides a very quick evaluation of the health of intertidal sites once field data are collected and could be transferred into a database very simply. Before practitioners can begin using the tool however, further testing is required and this topic is discussed briefly in the next section. 69 4.2 Potential uses and next steps for the diagnostic tool It is early yet to know exactly what changes may be required to improve the diagnostic tool. What is certain is that the next step in its development should involve testing it at a few sites with different practitioners to test its reliability: How similar or different would the results be when different people were completing the assessment? Then have the same people re-test a given site to further determine reliability. Assuming that the assessment results in the above tests were similar enough to consider the diagnostic tool "reliable", the tool would then need to be tested in different intertidal sites having a variety of impacts, habitats, and surrounding communities. This would help to indicate the limitations of the tool and where it does or does not work. Once reliability is established, validity must be tested. This could be accomplished by testing the tool in, sites that have already been assessed as healthy or unhealthy by some other reliable and valid measure (preferably without the practitioner knowing these results). This Could prove to be difficult considering that other assessment tools may determine health based on an entirely different perception and philosophy of health, potentially one that is not integrated and does not use an ecological approach. Again, the discussion above about there currently being no existing reliable and accepted way of assessing ecosystem health means that determining the validity of this assessment tool may never be possible. It is possible, however, that coastal zone managers accept the diagnoses found using TIEHD and assume its validity. The concept of ecosystem health providing the structure for TIEHD could potentially be used to create similar diagnostic tools for other ecosystems besides the intertidal. The categories used in the ecosystem model are applicable to any natural system - it is how those categories are represented that changes between differing systems. The tool proposed in this document could be used as a template for these other ecosystem diagnostic tools as well. For example, to create a health assessment tool for subtidal ecosystems one could take the conceptual model of ecosystem health (Figure 2.2) and then formulate questions for each category/heading in the model relevant to the subtidal 70 ecosystem. The weighting of scores for each category would likely change as, for example, the influence of the watershed and the air would be lessened in subtidal systems. Specific organisms listed to represent feeding guilds under the food category would be different as well. International law may play a larger role here and fishing practices would need to be included. This provides a brief example of how TIEHD may be adapted to assess other ecosystems. The Tool for Intertidal Ecosystem Health Diagnosis currently diagnoses three different states of ecosystem health: Healthy, Somewhat Healthy, and Very Unhealthy. The tool would be more useful i f it were able to diagnose further levels of ecosystem health or different kinds of ecosystem degradation. Changing the Evaluation Key to reflect the more subtle levels of health would increase the levels of ecosystem health that TIEHD can diagnose. For example the states of health could be expanded to include a Somewhat Unhealthy category. The range of scores required for this diagnosis to be assigned to a site would have to be tested in areas that had been measured as being somewhat unhealthy by some other method. To diagnose different kinds of ecosystem degradation, the categories used in the tool provide a useful starting place. If, for example, a practitioner is looking to pick out sites that have been impacted largely by exploitation through overfishing, the Food category would show a very low score overall as the food-chain would likely have been disturbed to the point of eliminating the higher trophic levels (Paulye? a/., 1998). The incorporation of habitat mapping could also be a useful addition to the TIEHD and would aid in the diagnosis of ecosystem degradation based on habitat-related factors such as slope stability and erosion, as well as vegetation shifting and sedimentation. Roff et al. (2003) discuss the many benefits of habitat mapping to marine ecosystem monitoring and conservation. TIEHD could also be used for environmental restoration projects to evaluate the initial, interim, and resultant health of intertidal sites undergoing restoration work. The tool may be used to aid in the designation and prioritization of intertidal sites in need of restoration 71 or habitat improvement as well. Environmental restoration projects are often initiated without any assessment information to begin with, where practitioners assume that an ecosystem is degraded and needs rehabilitation (Eastman, pers. comm.). Without the initial assessment of health of an ecosystem, it is impossible to truly evaluate the success of a restoration project. Having access to an inexpensive health assessment tool that can be done in a short period of time, may encourage practitioners undertaking restoration projects not to forego the important step of an initial health assessment. TIEHD was designed to provide a snapshot assessment for coastal zone managers such as municipal environmental planners, to assess the health of intertidal sites when faced with development permits or the work of monitoring coastal properties within their jurisdiction to aid in the targeting and planning of conservation projects. In addition to the specific uses of the TIEHD to allow coastal zone managers to assess intertidal ecosystem health, it could be used as an educational tool to train future coastal zone managers and biologists or ecologists. TIEHD could be used to promote an understanding of the structure, function, and processes essential to intertidal ecosystems, as well as provide students with a tool to practice applying these concepts in the field. While there are certainly areas that may be improved in the Tool for Intertidal Ecosystem Health Diagnosis, overall TIEHD is an important first step towards an holistic assessment of intertidal ecosystem health. In the next Chapter, the implications of this research for the field of coastal zone management and recommendations for future research are discussed. 72 Chapter 5: Summary and Recommendations This chapter provides an overview of the research project, summarizing the research questions, what methods were employed to answer them, and the results and conclusions found in answering the questions. Recommendations for future research are also made. 5.1 Summary of research This research project intended to answer the following questions: 1. What makes an intertidal ecosystem whole? (and therefore healthy, given my operational definition of ecosystem health) 2. What are the indicators of ecosystem health in the intertidal zone? 3. How can these indicators be combined to create a simple, low-cost, efficient, holistic tool to assess intertidal ecosystem health? The answers to these questions were explored using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. A review of the literature was conducted in the pursuit of answers to question #1: What makes an intertidal ecosystem whole? It quickly became apparent that although there is a great body of theoretical literature on the topic, ultimately deciding what made the intertidal or any ecosystem whole was subject to interpretation, personal constructs and perceptions. As Rapport et al. (1985, p.619) put it: "in ecosystems, as in organisms, what constitutes health is not based on objective criteria, but rather involves judgement." Qualitative interviews were conducted to find out the common perceptions of ecosystem health held by persons working in coastal zone management in British Columbia. Six coastal zone managers working within municipal and provincial government, First Nations, academia, and environmental non-governmental organizations, were interviewed. The respondents were asked to explain their definition of ecosystem health and discuss the indicators that help them determine this state of health. Respondents were 73 also asked to discuss gaps and challenges in coastal zone management and assessing coastal ecosystem health. The interviews were also designed to assist in answering research question #2: What are the indicators of ecosystem health in the intertidal zone? Although numerous indicators are discussed in the literature, the interviews allowed coastal zone managers to discuss the specific indicators of intertidal health that they used. Again, it became apparent that the indicators one used to determine health in an ecosystem was dependent on one's definition of health and objectives for assessing health. The next step to answering the research questions involved determining which definition of ecosystem health was going to focus the research. Comments from the interview respondents were used in combination with the background literature, as well as my own philosophy of health, to develop an operational definition of ecosystem health. For the purposes of this research an ecosystem was considered healthy i f it is whole, meaning: 4) having all of its essential components; 5) that these components are functioning ( or able to function) without human support; 6) interactions among components are not disturbed. To determine what the essential components of an ecosystem are, a conceptual model of a healthy ecosystem was created using the metaphor of a healthy household. From this model it was easy to see the structures, functions, and processes necessary to observe health in intertidal systems. These 12 essential components are: foundations, habitat, watershed, water, air, maintenance, organization, food, recycling, storage, connections to adjacent ecosystems, and human politics. According to the above definition of ecosystem health, an ecosystem is whole and therefore optimally healthy when all of these 12 components are present, functioning and undisturbed. This list of essential components for a healthy ecosystem is consistent with the work of Odum (1985), Rapport (1997, p.45), and Rapport et al. (1985), each of whom proposed that some portion of these components were necessary for the healthy functioning of ecosystems. Odum (1985, 74 p.421) proposed trends expected in stressed ecosystems and included indicators in the recycling, storage, connections, food, and foundations categories. While he did not use the same terms as used in TIEHD for the essential components/categories, his description of the trends relate directly to the categories just listed. Rapport et al. (1985) discusses ecosystem behaviour under stress and proposes that changes in the following components denote stress: recycling, storage, food, maintenance, and foundations. Again, the exact terms used by Rapport et al. (1985) are not the same as chosen for use in the diagnostic tool, but represent the same structure, function or process. Rapport (1997, p.45) discusses the major features of healthy ecosystems: vigour, organization, and resilience. These features cannot be found in an ecosystem lacking the presence and functioning of the twelve essential components. For example, the presence and functioning of all the components combined make up the features of vigour, organization, and resilience in a healthy ecosystem. Once essential ecosystem components were identified, and potential indicators of their presence and level of functioning were recognized, the next step was to answer question #3: How can these indicators be combined to create a simple, low-cost, efficient, holistic tool to assess intertidal ecosystem health? A diagnostic tool for assessing intertidal ecosystem health was created using the 12 essential components as major headings. While the headings identify the structure, function, or process necessary for healthy ecosystems in general, the questions asked under each heading are used to determine whether or not that component is present specifically in the intertidal system being assessed and to what level it is generally functioning. The questions are very specific to the intertidal ecosystem and were designed to help practitioners understand and assess overall intertidal ecosystem health in a simple, quick, low-cost, and holistic tool. A scoring system allows the practitioner to reach a conclusion about the overall health of an intertidal site, categorizing it as healthy, somewhat healthy, or very unhealthy. 75 The diagnostic tool was tested using field data from 3 sites located within a study area along Cordova Bay, Victoria, British Columbia. The sites were chosen to represent high, medium and low levels of human impacts as determined by background reports and a current storm water monitoring program. Field data including physical, biological, and chemical information was collected and used along with reports on relevant adjacent land-use and other human impacts in order to answer questions in the diagnostic tool. The final assessment score for each site accurately represented the relative human impact levels determined prior to the testing. The diagnostic tool identified the low and medium impact sites as somewhat healthy with the least impacted site having the highest score, whereas the highly impacted site was identified as very unhealthy. The diagnostic tool was found to allow a rapid assessment of intertidal ecosystem health, taking an average of 1 hour to complete once field data and reports had been collected and consulted. Straight-forward questions used in the tool allow for a simple process of assessing health and potentially enhance the practitioner's understanding of ecosystem health in the intertidal zone. The nature of the questions is also simple enough that the tool is accessible to a variety of users, who need not be experts in marine ecology. The ability to complete a rapid assessment, with no equipment requirements and little previous training means that assessment requires little cost to complete. The components identified as essential and assessed in the tool comprise biological, chemical, physical, and human factors with respect to structures, functions, and processes within the intertidal ecosystem. This approach allows the diagnostic tool to provide an holistic assessment of health. While the diagnostic tool appears to be an appropriate answer for question #3, providing a simple, low-cost, efficient, holistic assessment of intertidal ecosystem health, its' main weakness is that is has not been tested adequately enough at this time to determine reliability, validity, or limitations. This research makes the new claim that intertidal ecosystem health can be assessed in an holistic way using the qualitative diagnostic tool proposed here. There have been no such 76 tools developed for this purpose to the knowledge of the researcher. As discussed in chapters 1 and 4, while there are several other approaches to assess and diagnose intertidal ecosystem health, the majority of these assess health based on trends in the ecosystem level indicators, requiring vast amounts of time, money, equipment, and expertise (Xu et al., 2004; University of Queensland, 2005; Mark et al, 2003). The tools that do offer a snapshot assessment, do not do so in an integrated, holistic way (Williams, 1989; Roff et al., 2003). There is no other diagnostic tool that allows a snapshot assessment of intertidal ecosystem health using an holistic approach. 5.2 Implications for Coastal Zone Management This research contributes a new tool to the field of coastal zone management. The Tool for Intertidal Ecosystem Health Diagnosis (TIEHD) allows coastal zone managers to determine health efficiently, at a low cost, and in an accessible way so that the problem of too much data and not enough analyses is remedied. Assuming that once the tool is tested it is found reliable and valid; environmental groups, governmental agencies, and First Nations alike will not only be able to gather intertidal field data, but use it to complete their own analysis and reach conclusions about the overall health of intertidal areas. Funding for environmental assessments can be difficult to find and secure, especially for non-profit environmental groups. The diagnostic tool will potentially allow under-funded organizations to continue the work of environmental restoration, monitoring and protection despite budget restraints and the lack of available support from experts and government scientists. This research also promotes an holistic approach to ecosystem health assessment and in doing so contributes to the currently very small body of research applying holistic science to marine ecosystem health. 77 5 3 Implications & recommendations for future research This research provides the groundwork and the initial structure of an holistic assessment tool of intertidal ecosystem health. While much ground was covered in this thesis, there remains a huge amount of work to do in a variety of areas related to intertidal ecosystem health and assessment of health. Again, much more testing of the TIEHD is required before it can be determined exactly how useful it is and to what extent it can be modified for use in other ecosystems or geographic locations. Could the tool be modified for an even more holistic approach? It is suggested here that indeed more research is needed to provide science with a deeper understanding of holism and holistic approaches to scientific research so that in applying scientific knowledge we no longer create new and unsolvable problems on our planet by ignoring the complex interactions of all things on Earth. There is evidence that Western science is already shifting to more holistic approaches to ecology and resource management in general, in the past twenty years. For example: Allan Savory developed methods for the holistic management of grasslands that have now been successfully adopted by many people and on almost two million acres of ranchlands in the United States (Suzuki & Dressel, 2002, p. 106). The word 'holistic', according to Suzuki & Dressel (2002, p. 106), implies: "practices that are open to reality, constantly trying to perceive the whole that they are working within and, because the whole is alive and changing, being extraordinarily flexible and humble in response." I find it promising and hopeful for the future of coastal ecosystems that individuals and organizations are already taking their first steps towards such holistic practices. For it was Albert Einstein who so poignantly said: " the world we have made as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far creates problems that we cannot solve at the same level of consciousness at which we have created them... We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking i f humankind is to survive. 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Bainbridge Island Nearshore Assessment: Summary of Best Available Science. Prepared for the City of Bainbridge Island by Batelle Marine Science Laboratory, Bainbridge, WA. Williams, G. L. 1989. Coastal/Estuarine fish habitat description and assessment manual. Prepared for Unsolicited Proposals Program, Supply and Services Canada, Quebec. Wright, N. 2005. Personal communication, Executive Director, Seachange Marine Conservation Society. Victoria. Xu, F. L , K. C. Lam, Z. Y. Zhao, W. Zhan, Y. D. Chen, and S. Tao. 2004. Marine coastal ecosystem health assessment: a case study of the Tolo Harbour, Hong Kong, China. Ecological Modelling 173:355-370. 85 List of Appendices A. Letter of permission for interviews with Coastal Zone Managers B. Certificate of approval from the ethics board C. Diagnostic tool (TIEHD) with references D. Diagnostic tool (TIEHD) in ready to copy and use form 86 r\??£NbU C> Tool -for \n\crH4a\ Bco^yskm rkaiifa wi-Hi Re&cence^ Snapshot Assessment of Intertidal Ecosystem Health references for further information Foundations Odum, 1985; Rapport et al. 1985 1 Rate this system on wi ldness or pristine quality on the following scale (1=pristine, -1=artificial, 0=somewhat) 2 Are any populations in this ecosystem intended transplants (i.e.: hatchery fish, eelgrass transplants) 3 Does the system function without human P H Y S I C A L support? 4 Are there any accidentally introduced /exotic species within the intertidal area? Munn, 1993, p. 105.; Coasta l Shore Stewardship Guide, 2003. Habitat Coastal Shore Stewardship Guide, 2003 5 Is there a shortage of avai lable habitat in the ecosystem? Use the following points as evidence of this: a) d isplacement of animals ie: birds, mammals, have had to move elsewhere b) developments have encroached into intertidal area c) erosion of habitat from wind or water 6 Is there more than a smal l amount of visible garbage within the ecosystem? 7 Are any of the following freshwater sources present?: a) urban run-off b) River/creek c) water table d) leakage from drinking water system and/or fire hydrants e) other 8 Which of the following habitats are present in the ecosystem? Raghukumar & Ani l , 2003, p.887 a ) s a n d b) bedrock c) eelgrass d) cobble/pebble e) shell f) sea lettuce g) mixed macroalgae h) mud I) Other: Watershed Pernetta & Mil l iman, 1995; Cameron & Mount, 2003. 9 What is the land-use in the watershed? a) Residential b) Industrial c) Parks and Recreat ion (specify type of rec: ) d) Wild/Natural /unused e) Agricultural f) Transportat ion/Roads g) Commerc ia l (specify type: ) h) Other: 10 Do any storm drain outfalls discharge within the intertidal area? Coastal Shore Stewardship Guide, 2003; Cameron & Mount, 2004. 11 What is the land-use in the drainage areas of these outfalls?: a) Residential b) Industrial c) Parks and Recreat ion (specify type of rec: ) d) Wi ld/Natural /unused e) Agricultural f) Transportat ion/Roads g) Commerc ia l (specify type: ) h) Other: 12 Do any of the storm drain outfalls act as sewer overflows? Coastal Shore Stewardship Guide, 2003. 13 Do all sediments meet Marine Sediment Quality Guidel ines standards (Capital Regional District standards)? Cameron & Mount, 2004, Appendix E 14 How many of the Marine Sediment Quality Guideline standards are exceeded? Cameron & Mount, 2004, Appendix E 15 Do the fecal coliforms exceed 200 fc/100mL in any of the outfalls or in the water? Cameron& Mount, 2004, p. 4. 16 Is there land-use in watershed /on shoreline contributing contaminants, noise, or physical disturbance to intertidal? Water Lalli & Parsons, 1994; Roff et al., 2003. 17 Is the water circulation good (well-mixed)? 18 Is any of the following evidence of poor oceanic circulation present? a) scummy surface (oil, debris, soap etc.) b) the physical make-up of the surrounding oceanic source is an inlet, fjord, or other naturally blocked mouth c) human development is stifling or blocking water flow (ie: dam, etc) 19 Is the salinity within a livable range for intertidal organisms? 20 Is any of the following present as evidence of disease or contamination in the water? Rapport ef al., 1985, p. 625. a) dead fish on shore or in water b) harmful algal b looms Colbeck, 1998, p.119. c) marine mammal fat testing high for contaminants specific to the area Ross & Birnbaum, 2003. d) fecal coliforms above 200 fc/100mL Cameron & Mount, 2004, p.4. e) mussel testing high for contaminants or inedible due to P S P or other toxins? g) foul odour that can not be attributed to rotting algae h) pH is outside of the livable range for fish (not between 4-9) DOther : 21 Is the water temperature in the optimal livable range for fish in this area? (Between 5 and 15 C ) 22 Does the water temperature fluctuate due to some human influence? (see options below) a) extremely hot or cold run-off from human source? b) removal of natural shade c) addition of structures which block wind, water circulation, or magnify sun d) Other: 24 Is there a source of frequent noise pollution in the water nearby as listed below? Fair & Becker, 2000; Committee on Low-frequency sound and marine mammals, 1994. a) boat (and other marine vessel) traffic b) aquaculture protection gear -c) Other: 25 Is the turbidity of the water high, potentially diminishing 0 2 absorption by organisms? Air 26 Are there known contaminants in the air from a point source? 27 Is there a source of frequent noise pollution in the air? Foreman & Alexander, 1998. a) heavy/construction equipment b) loud horns/whistles c) boat traffic d) airplane traffic f) other: M a i n t e n a n c e Rapport etal., 1985; Ulanowicz, 1992, p195. 28 Is the system exposed to frequent human disturbance? Brown e ta l . , 2002, p. 15. 29 How many different sources of human disturbance affect this system? (-1 per source, 1 if none) 30 Are there juvenile organisms present? 31 Is there an abundance of individs from only r-selected (opportunistic, short-lived, generalists) species population? Odum, 1985, p.421 32 Are hard surfaces within the intertidal zone highly colonized O N L Y by algae and barnacles? Organization 33 Are there a variety of ecosystem services being provided? Which ones? Peterson & Lubchenko, 1997. a) recreational use for humans b) food supply source for humans c) maintenance of biodiversity d) Water purification (Are eelgrass, algae, mussels, or oysters present?) Jackson e( al., 2001, p.634-635; Wright, 2005; Peterson & Lubchenko, 1997, p. 182; DeWreede, 2005. e) Detoxification of wastes (Are bacteria, phytoplankton, or wetland vegetation present?) Peterson & Lubchenko, 1997, p. 181. f) support of diverse human cultures g) mitigation of f loods and storm surges h) Other: Food Odum, 1985; Rapport et al., 1985. 34 Are there a variety of organisms present? 35 Is at least one representative species for each of the following feeding guilds present? Colbeck, 1998 (for help determining feeding guilds for species not listed here) a) producers: algae, phytoplankton b) primary consumers: l impets, chitons, oysters, species of ducks, c lams, barnacles, mussels, periwinkles c) secondary consumers: worms, crabs, urchins, shrimp, d) predators: seastars, shorebirds, snails, nudibranchs, fish, e) omnivores: raccooons, birds (crows, gulls), people, hermit crab, f) detrivores & scavengers: tube worms, segmented worms, amphipods, isopods, crabs, whelks, 36 Is there ev idence of a lack of resources within the system? Which resources seem lacking? a) water: the streambed is dry and/or backshore is extremely dry b) food availability: ev idence of starving organisms and/or low abundance in populations c) nutrients: algae populations low d) sun: lack of algae and ev idence of too much shading e) Other: 37 Is abundance within majority of populations very low? (ie: sparse algae cover, > 10 indiv. animals) Recycling Rapport etal., 1985 38 Is there a visible excess of materials/resources in the system? Odum, 1985, p. 420. 39 Are there both generalists and specialists present? Odum, 1985, p. 421. 40 Is there an abundance of organisms that break materials down (detrivores) like: worms, iso/amphipods? Lalli & Parsons, 1994. 41 Is there ev idence of frequent plankton blooms? Storage Rapport etal., 1985 42 Is there evidence of a leak of resources out of the system as in evidence below? Odum, 1985, p.421. a) harvesting of organisms Jackson etal., 2001; Kaufman & Dayton, 1997. b) nutrient leaks due to lack of vegetation to hold it c) Other: 43 Are there any long-lived spec ies present? Rapportef a/., 1985, p. 626; Colbeck, 1998 (for help determining longevity of typical intertidal species 44 Is there an abundance of algae which store nutrients? 45 Is the backshore highly vegetated, providing nutrients in the form of leaf litter and insects to intertidal? Levings & Jamieson, 2001. Connections to subtidal and backshore:(doorways and windows) 46 Is there a clear connect ion (passage/flow) between this system and the adjacent system(s): Odum, 1985. a) subtidal b )backshore c) adjacent marine ecosys tems (saltmarshes, mudflats, intertidal zone) d) adjacent freshwater ecosystems (streams, rivers) 47 Is there anything visibly blocking or stopping this flow between systems? 48 Is this ecosystem easi ly access ib le to human use? Politics Brown et al., 2002; Kay & Alder, 1999. 49 Is there political will to support, protect, and understand the ecosystem? (shown through $, programs, policy) 50 Are there policies already in place to achieve the above support, protection, and understanding? 51 Are policies effective in achieving that support, protection, and understanding? (are they enforced?) 52 Are there stewardship groups doing education, restoration, and protection of the system? Munn etal., 1993, p. 111. 53 Do people within the watershed take actions that show value and respect for the shoreline ecosystem? A l e s s a ef al., 2003. APPENDIX D: Tool for Intertidal Ecosystem Health Diagnosis - Ready to use format Snapshot Assessment of Intertidal E c o s y s t e m Health Y score N score n/a Total scor ing notes Foundations 1 R a t e th is s y s t e m o n w i l d n e s s or pr ist ine qual i ty o n the fo l lowing s c a l e (1=prist ine, -1=art i f ic ial , 0=somewhat ) 2 A r e a n y p o p u l a t i o n s in th is e c o s y s t e m in tended t ransp lan ts (i.e.: ha tchery fish, e e l g r a s s t ransp lants) -1 1 3 Does the system func t ion without h u m a n P H Y S I C A L suppor t? 1 -1 4 A r e the re a n y a c c i d e n t a l l y in t roduced /exot ic s p e c i e s within the intert idal a r e a ? -1 1 Habitat 5 Is the re a s h o r t a g e of a v a i l a b l e habi tat in the e c o s y s t e m ? U s e the fo l lowing points a s e v i d e n c e of th is: 1 a) d i s p l a c e m e n t of a n i m a l s ie: b i rds, m a m m a l s , h a v e had to move e l s e w h e r e -1 b) d e v e l o p m e n t s h a v e e n c r o a c h e d into intert idal a r e a -1 c) e r o s i o n of habi ta t f r om wind or water -1 6 Is the re m o r e than a s m a l l amount of v is ib le g a r b a g e within the e c o s y s t e m ? -1 1 7 A r e a n y of the fo l l ow ing f reshwate r s o u r c e s p resen t? : a) u r b a n run-off -1 b) R i v e r / c r e e k 1 c) wa te r tab le 1 d) l e a k a g e f rom d r ink ing water s y s t e m and /o r f i re hydrants -1 e) o the r -1 8 W h i c h of the fo l l ow ing habi ta ts a re p resen t in the e c o s y s t e m ? a ) s a n d 1 b) b e d r o c k 1 c) e e l g r a s s d) c o b b l e / p e b b l e 1 e) s h e l l 1 f) s e a le t tuce 1 g) m ixed m a c r o a l g a e h) m u d 1 I) O the r : 1 Watershed 9 W h a t is the l a n d - u s e in the w a t e r s h e d ? a) R e s i d e n t i a l -1 b) Industr ia l -1 c) P a r k s a n d R e c r e a t i o n (spec i fy type of rec : ) -1 d) W i l d / N a t u r a l / u n u s e d 2 e) Agr i cu l tu ra l -1 f) T r a n s p o r t a t i o n / R o a d s -1 g) C o m m e r c i a l ( spec i f y type: ) -1 h) O the r : -1 10 D o a n y s to rm d ra in ou t fa l l s d i s c h a r g e within the intert idal a r e a ? -1 1 11 W h a t is the l a n d - u s e in the d ra inage a r e a s of t hese out fa l l s? : a) R e s i d e n t i a l -1 b) Industr ia l -1 c ) P a r k s a n d R e c r e a t i o n (spec i fy type of rec : ) -1 d) W i l d / N a t u r a l / u n u s e d 1 e) Agr i cu l tu ra l -1 APPENDIX D: Tool for Intertidal Ecosystem Health Diagnosis - Ready to use format Y score N score n/a Total f) T r a n s p o r t a t i o n / R o a d s -1 q) C o m m e r c i a l ( spec i f y t voe : ) -1 h) O the r : 12 D o a n y of the s to rm d ra in out fa l ls ac t a s s e w e r ove r f l ows? -1 1 13 D o a l l s e d i m e n t s m e e t M a r i n e S e d i m e n t Qual i ty G u i d e l i n e s s t a n d a r d s (Cap i t a l R e g i o n a l Distr ic t s t a n d a r d s ) ? 1 -1 14 H o w m a n y of t he M a r i n e S e d i m e n t Qua l i t y G u i d e l i n e s t a n d a r d s a re e x c e e d e d ? -1 -1 per e x c e e d a n c e 15 D o the feca l c o l i f o r m s e x c e e d 2 0 0 f c / 1 0 0 m L in any of the out fa l ls or in the wa te r? -1 1 16 Is t he re l a n d - u s e in w a t e r s h e d /on sho re l i ne contr ibut ing c o n t a m i n a n t s , n o i s e , or p h y s i c a l d i s t u r b a n c e ? -1 1 Water 17 Is the wa te r c i r cu la t i on g o o d (we l l -m ixed)? 1 -1 18 Is a n y of the fo l l ow ing e v i d e n c e of poor o c e a n i c c i rcu la t ion p r e s e n t ? 1 a) s c u m m y s u r f a c e (oi l , deb r i s , s o a p etc.) -1 b) the p h y s i c a l m a k e - u p of the su r round ing o c e a n i c s o u r c e is a n inlet, f jord, or o ther natura l ly b l o c k e d mouth -1 c) h u m a n d e v e l o p m e n t i s st i f l ing or b lock ing water f low ( ie: d a m , e tc ) -1 19 Is the sa l in i ty wi th in a l i vab le r a n g e for intert idal o r g a n i s m s ? 1 -1 20 Is a n y of the fo l l ow ing p resen t a s e v i d e n c e of d i s e a s e o r con tam ina t i on in the wa te r? 1 a) d e a d f i sh o n s h o r e or in wa te r -1 b) harmfu l a l g a l b l o o m s -1 c ) m a r i n e m a m m a l fat tes t ing h igh for con tam inan ts spec i f i c to the a r e a -1 d) f e c a l c o l i f o r m s a b o v e 2 0 0 f c / 1 0 0 m L -1 e) m u s s e l tes t ing h igh for c o n t a m i n a n t s or ined ib le d u e to P S P or o the r t o x i n s ? -1 g) fou l o d o u r that c a n not be at t r ibuted to rotting a l g a e -1 h) p H is o u t s i d e of the l i vab le r a n g e for f i sh (not b e t w e e n 4-9) -1 i) O t h e r : -1 21 Is t he wa te r t e m p e r a t u r e in the op t ima l l i vab le r a n g e for f ish in th is a r e a ? ( B e t w e e n 5 a n d 15 C ) 1 -1 22 D o e s the w a t e r t e m p e r a t u r e f luc tuate d u e to s o m e h u m a n i n f l u e n c e ? ( s e e op t ions be low) 1 a) ex t reme ly ho t or c o l d run-off f rom h u m a n s o u r c e ? -1 b) r e m o v a l o f na tu ra l s h a d e -1 c ) add i t i on of s t r uc tu res w h i c h b lock w ind , water c i rcu la t ion , or magn i fy s u n -1 d) O t h e r : -1 24 Is t he re a s o u r c e of f requen t n o i s e pol lu t ion in the wa te r nea rby a s l is ted b e l o w ? 1 a) boa t ( a n d o the r m a r i n e v e s s e l ) traffic -1 b) a q u a c u l t u r e p ro tec t i on g e a r -1 c) O the r : -1 25 Is the turbidi ty o f the wa te r h igh , potent ia l ly d im in ish ing 0 2 abso rp t i on by o r g a n i s m s ? -1 1 Air 26 A r e the re k n o w n c o n t a m i n a n t s in the a i r f rom a po in t s o u r c e ? -1 1 27 Is t he re a s o u r c e of f requen t n o i s e pol lu t ion in the a i r? 1 a) h e a v y / c o n s t r u c t i o n e q u i p m e n t -1 b) l oud h o r n s / w h i s t l e s -1 c ) b o a t traff ic -1 d) a i r p l a n e traff ic -1 f) o ther : -1 APPENDIX D: Tool for Intertidal Ecosystem Health Diagnosis - Ready to use format Y score N score n/a Total Maintenance 28 Is t he s y s t e m e x p o s e d to f requent h u m a n d i s t u rbance? -1 1 29 H o w m a n y di f ferent s o u r c e s of human d i s tu rbance affect th is s y s t e m ? (-1 pe r s o u r c e , 1 if none) -1 1 (-1 pe r s o u r c e of d i s tu rbance ) 30 A r e the re juven i le o r g a n i s m s p resen t? 1 -1 31 Is t he re a n a b u n d a n c e of ind iv ids f rom on ly r -se lected (oppor tun is t ic , shor t - l i ved, genera l i s t s ) p o p u l a t i o n s ? -1 1 32 A r e ha rd s u r f a c e s wi th in the intert idal z o n e h ighly co lon i zed O N L Y by a l g a e a n d b a r n a c l e s ? -1 1 Organization 33 A r e the re a var ie ty of e c o s y s t e m s e r v i c e s be ing p rov ided? W h i c h o n e s ? a) rec rea t i ona l u s e for h u m a n s 1 -1 b) f o o d s u p p l y s o u r c e for h u m a n s 1 -1 c) m a i n t e n a n c e of b iod ivers i ty 1 -1 d) W a t e r pur i f i ca t ion (A re e e l g r a s s , a l g a e , m u s s e l s , or oys te r s p resen t? ) 1 -1 e) De tox i f i ca t ion of w a s t e s (Are bac te r ia , phytop lankton, o r we t land vege ta t ion p resen t? ) 1 -1 f) suppo r t o f d i v e r s e h u m a n cu l tures 1 -1 g) mi t igat ion of f l o o d s a n d s to rm s u r g e s 1 -1 h) O the r : 1 -1 Food 34 A r e the re a var ie ty of o r g a n i s m s p r e s e n t ? 1 -1 35 Is at l eas t o n e rep resen ta t i ve s p e c i e s for e a c h of the fo l lowing f eed ing gu i l ds p r e s e n t ? a) p r o d u c e r s : a l g a e , phy top lank ton 1 -1 b) p r imary c o n s u m e r s : l impets , ch i tons, oys te rs , s p e c i e s of d u c k s , c l a m s , b a r n a c l e s , m u s s e l s , pe r iw ink les 1 -1 c ) s e c o n d a r y c o n s u m e r s : wo rms , c rabs , u rch ins , shr imp, 1 -1 d) p reda to r s : s e a s t a r s , sho reb i rds , sna i l s , nud ib ranchs , f i sh , 1 -1 e) o m n i v o r e s : r a c c o o o n s , b i rds (crows, gu l ls) , peop le , hermit c r a b , 1 -1 f) de t r i vo res & s c a v e n g e r s : tube worms , s e g m e n t e d worms, a m p h i p o d s , i s o p o d s , c r a b s , w h e l k s , 1 -1 36 Is the re e v i d e n c e of a lack of r e s o u r c e s within the s y s t e m ? W h i c h r e s o u r c e s s e e m l a c k i n g ? 1 a) wa te r : the s t r e a m b e d is dry and/or b a c k s h o r e is ex t remely dry -1 b) f o o d ava i lab i l i t y : e v i d e n c e of s tarv ing o r g a n i s m s and /o r low a b u n d a n c e in popu la t i ons -1 c ) nut r ients : a l g a e popu la t i ons low -1 d) s u n : l ack of a l g a e a n d e v i d e n c e of too m u c h shad ing -1 e) O the r : -1 37 Is a b u n d a n c e wi th in major i ty of popu la t ions very l ow? (ie: s p a r s e a l g a e cove r , > 10 indiv. an ima ls ) -1 1 Recycling 38 Is the re a v i s i b l e e x c e s s of ma te r i a l s / resou rces in the s y s t e m ? -1 1 39 A r e the re both g e n e r a l i s t s a n d spec ia l i s t s p r e s e n t ? 1 -1 40 Is the re a n a b u n d a n c e of o r g a n i s m s that b reak mater ia ls down (detr ivores) l ike: w o r m s , i s o / a m p h i p o d s ? 1 -1 41 Is the re e v i d e n c e of f requen t p lank ton b l o o m s ? -1 1 Storage 42 Is the re e v i d e n c e of a leak of r e s o u r c e s out of the sys tem a s in e v i d e n c e b e l o w ? 1 a) h a r v e s t i n g of o r g a n i s m s -1 b) nutr ient l e a k s d u e to lack of vegeta t ion to ho ld it -1 c ) O the r : -1 43 A r e the re a n y l ong - l i ved s p e c i e s p resen t? 1 -1 APPENDIX D: Tool for Intertidal Ecosystem Health Diagnosis - Ready to use format Y s c o r e N score n/a Total 44 Is t he re a n a b u n d a n c e of a l g a e wh i ch s tore nu t r ien ts? 1 -1 45 Is the b a c k s h o r e h igh ly v e g e t a t e d , p rov id ing nutr ients in t he form of leaf litter a n d i n s e c t s to in ter t ida l? 1 -1 Connections to subtidal and backshore:(doorways and windows) 46 Is t he re a c l e a r c o n n e c t i o n (passage / f l ow) b e t w e e n this s y s t e m a n d the ad jacen t sys tem(s ) : a) sub t i da l 1 -1 b) b a c k s h o r e 1 -1 c) a d j a c e n t ma r i ne e c o s y s t e m s ( sa l tma rshes , mudf la ts , intert idal z o n e ) 1 -1 d) a d j a c e n t f r e s h w a t e r e c o s y s t e m s (s t reams, r ivers) 1 -1 47 Is t he re a n y t h i n g v i s i b l y b l o c k i n g or s topp ing th is f low be tween s y s t e m s ? -1 1 48 Is th is e c o s y s t e m e a s i l y a c c e s s i b l e to h u m a n u s e ? -1 1 Politics 49 Is t he re po l i t i ca l wi l l to suppo r t , protect, a n d u n d e r s t a n d the e c o s y s t e m ? ( shown th rough $, p r o g r a m s , po l icy) 1 -1 50 A r e t he re p o l i c i e s a l r e a d y in p l a c e to a c h i e v e the a b o v e suppor t , p ro tec t ion , a n d u n d e r s t a n d i n g ? 1 •1 51 A r e p o l i c i e s e f fec t i ve in a c h i e v i n g that suppor t , pro tect ion, a n d u n d e r s t a n d i n g ? (are they e n f o r c e d ? ) 1 -1 52 A r e t he re s t e w a r d s h i p g r o u p s do ing e d u c a t i o n , res tora t ion, a n d pro tec t ion of the s y s t e m ? 1 -1 53 D o p e o p l e wi th in the w a t e r s h e d take ac t i ons that s h o w v a l u e a n d r e s p e c t for the s h o r e l i n e e c o s y s t e m ? 1 -1 Grand Tota l : APPENDIX D: Tool for Intertidal Ecosystem Health Diagnosis - Ready to use format Evaluation Key for TIEHD: Score Range Diagnosis of intertidal health notes -100 to 0 Very unhealthy, requires further detailed research into the sources and levels of the impacts at this site. Remediation and mitigation required. It is possible to have scores below-100. 1 to 49 Somewhat healthy, requires continued monitoring to ensure that health is not compromised. Some remediation and mitigation is recommended. 50 to 80+ Healthy, continued protection and monitoring is recommended to ensure healthy status. It is possible to have scores above 80. 

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