UBC Undergraduate Research

Mapping Vegetation Communities in Burns Bog, Delta, British Columbia : Building an Understanding of Habitat… Rahn, Olivia; Slimon, Kelley; Lobe, Jack; Plantinga, Will 2020

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 1           Mapping Vegetation Communities in Burns Bog, Delta, British Columbia: Building an Understanding of Habitat Heterogeneity to Inform Future Management Strategies       Olivia Rahn Kelley Slimon Jack Lobe Will Plantinga        Community Partner: Burns Bog Conservation Society          2 ABSTRACT 4 AUTHOR BIOGRAPHIES 5 Olivia Rahn 5 Will Plantinga 5 Kelley Slimon 5 Jack Lobe 5 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES 6 Project Scope 6 Research questions 6 Potential Stakeholders 6 INTRODUCTION 7 Burns Bog and the Community 7 Ecology 7 Human Impacts 10 Climate Change 10 Red-legged Frog Habitat 11 METHODS 12 Data Collection 12 Building an Interactive Map 17 Data Analysis 18 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION 19 Climate Models 19 Mapping Vegetation Surveys and Rana aurora Habitat 22  3 IMPLICATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 27 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 30 APPENDIX A. SUMMARY OF VEGETATION FOUND IN EACH QUADRAT SURVEYED. 31 APPENDIX B. FROG HABITAT CHECKLIST 38 WORKS CITED 39                   4       Abstract   This project aimed to map vegetation communities within Burns Bog in Delta, British Columbia and develop an understanding of the diverse set of ecotypes within the area. Our objective was to conduct a scientific, unbiased and reproducible survey of Burns Bog’s vegetation that could be compared to the findings of previous reports. We have made suggestions regarding management strategies for Burns Bog based on (1) presence of blue or red-listed ecosystems as defined by COSEWIC/SARA and (2) presence of habitat suitable for the red-legged frog (Rana aurora), a species of Special Concern defined by COSEWIC. We also took into account climate model projections for the region when considering future management strategies for Burns Bog. We found that dozens of distinctive habitats exist within larger areas previously classified as a singular habitat, and that the majority of suitable R.aurora habitat exists in areas threatened by future development and construction. We hope that this information can be used in the future to inform effective and innovative management of the Burns Bog area.           5  Author Biographies   Olivia Rahn Olivia is focusing on the ecology and conservation concentration in the Environmental Sciences program, so this project fits her skill set well. She has experience with field work and has worked with various plant systems. She also has experience developing methodology and sampling protocols. She is comfortable taking initiative to develop plans, organize and engage other group members.    Will Plantinga Will has taken many courses related to his area of conservation in ENVR (ecology and conservation), giving him a good grasp on the subject matter related to the type of ecological surveys and analysis involved in this project. These courses include plant ecology, plant taxonomy, several introductory courses on various types of organisms, biological modelling, and geographical sciences.  Will has a broad base of knowledge, giving him a strong foundation to build off of any gaps in understanding and skills our team may encounter. Will is most comfortable outside of a leadership role, preferring to lend his skills to the team by doing work outside of meetings.    Kelley Slimon Kelley has a broad skill set in ecology based on both classes at UBC and outside experience. She has experience working in the field and using ecological sampling methods, as well as knowledge of ecosystem classification from previous work. She is well versed in plant id from multiple jobs and classes, and especially familiar with BC species. These areas of expertise will allow her to give energy and ideas to conversations about planning this aspect of our work.   Jack Lobe Jack’s skillset is concentrated in ocean chemistry, air, and terrestrial water. He has experience in ecological field work and in creating strong scientific methods. He also has experience with R, Matlab and Python which will help our group create readable results and a useable climate projection. Jack brings a strong work ethic and a good attitude to the team, which all combined will help guide us to a great project.    6   Research Objectives   Project Scope   The goal of this project was to create a map of Burns Bog depicting accurate ecosystem zones for the different wetland types and their locations. The map includes locations of high-priority conservation areas. Conservation priority areas were determined based primarily on whether or not they included rare/threatened ecosystem types- there are seven SARA/COSEWIC red or blue listed ecosystems currently identified in Burns Bog. In addition to threatened ecosystems we also considered the presence of Red-legged Frog (Rana aurora) habitat and climate forecasts to inform the creation of conservation priority areas. We included climate forecasts that can be consulted alongside our map when considering management strategies for the area. These climate forecasts can be used to ensure that management decisions will be beneficial in the long term and will account for climate change.    Research questions   1. Where are the boundaries between different ecosystem types in Burns Bog? 2. Which SARA/COSEWIC red and blue listed ecosystem types exist in Burns Bog, where do they exist? 3. Where does R. aurora have the potential to exist in Burns Bog, based on the presence of suitable habitat? 4. How might changes in climate predicted for the Lower Mainland affect different ecosystems within the wetland and potentially shift boundaries within the next 50 years?   Potential Stakeholders   Beyond the Burns Bog Conservation Society, our work also has the potential to impact the City of Delta. Burns Bog is one of the highlights of Delta due to its contributions to the environment and its role as an urban natural area. Our report will contribute to the development of conservation strategies to maintain this invaluable area. Additionally, our findings may have implications for future construction projects, as different ecosystems will  7 require different conservation strategies and SARA/COSEWIC red and blue listed habitats may have implications for where new projects can and can not be located.    Residents of the area who frequent Burns Bog are also potential stakeholders. Our project aims to build a deeper understanding of the vegetation communities within Burns Bog and to use this knowledge to inform future management decisions. Effective management of Burns Bog will allow it to continue to provide recreational benefits to residents of the City of Delta.    Introduction    Burns Bog and the Community   Burns Bog is located on the territory of the Tswwassen, Semiahmoo, Musqueam and other Coast Salish groups. These groups have historically used the locally abundant Sphagnum moss for ceremony and building material. European settlement and farming began in the 1870’s, and alterations to the land led to draining of the water table towards the edge of the bog (Hebda et al., 2000). The area was further impacted by intense peat extraction for fertilizer in the 1940’s through the 1980’s (Metro Vancouver, 2007). For the next two decades there was significant debate over land use in the area, but ultimately 75% of those who responded to a referendum put forward by the city of Delta in 1999 supported the municipality purchasing the bog. In 2004, Burns Bog was purchased for $73 million by The Government of Canada, the Province of British Columbia, Metro Vancouver, and the Corporation of Delta. Three main goals to conserve the function of Burns Bog were put forward: (1) Burns Bog should remain a large, undisturbed natural environment, (2) integrity of the water mound must be preserved as this is a unique feature of an ombrotrophic bog and crucial to the health of the bog, and (3) any occupation or use of Burns Bog which would impair ecosystem function should be prevented.    Ecology    Burns Bog is located south of the Fraser River in the Greater Vancouver Regional District (Figure 1). With an original area of 4,800 hectares, Burns Bog is the largest raised bog in North America and one of the largest undeveloped land areas in an urban area in Canada (Whitfield et al., 2006). The bog began to form 11,000 years ago as a result of sediment deposition and annual high river levels. The small pore size of the silt and clay made an impervious layer to water, and as the water levels of the Fraser River receded further, rain became the sole source of moisture for the bog (Hebda et al., 2000), creating the ombrotrophic bog we know today.   8     Figure 1a. Geographic location of Burns Bog and the Delta Nature Reserve. Figure 1b. The Delta Nature reserve in Burns Bog is shown in green.    Ombrotrophic bogs are fed entirely by rain water, so for any water table buildup, precipitation must be higher than evapotranspiration. The high water table in ombrotrophic bogs limits oxygen and slows decomposition, resulting in a raised mound (Wheeler & Shaw, 1995; Fraser et al., 2001). The dome shape of raised bogs creates a higher hydraulic head within the bog then in the surrounding area (Figure 2), so no ground water is able to infiltrate (Howie et al., 2009). Within this raised bog, there are a number of species, soil types, and water conditions which are indicative of the health of the bog. These species include Sphagnum moss and Rhododendron groenlandicum (Labrador tea).   9   Figure 2. Cross section of an ombrotrophic bog, adapted from Wheeler and Shaw, 1995.   The acidic environment and slow decomposition in the water table are crucial to the formation of Sphagnum moss (Hebda et al., 2000). During peat extraction in the 1940’s, there were extensive drainage ditches built into the centre of the water mound (Howie et al., 2009). Figure 3 shows historical drainage ditches and dams built in order to excavate 1-2 meters of peat on average around the entire bog area. After mining, water table depth around the periphery of the bog dropped below one metre, allowing for growth of species such as Pinus contorta (Lodgepole pine) (Howie et al., 2009). Any further perturbation of the water table through development may alter the hydrology of the water mound to an extent where Sphagnum communities can no longer colonize an area. This would consequently raise the pH of the water and soil, allowing for the proliferation of invasive species such as Impatiens parviflora (Touch Me Not), an abundant species which currently occupies the periphery of the bog.   A main goal throughout this project was to develop a better understanding of the vegetation communities present throughout Burns Bog, given the unique ecology in the area. Our project aimed to collect information on plant species present in the bog on a fine scale in order to build an understanding of how many unique vegetation communities may be present in Burns Bog; this information is important for future conservation endeavors as different communities may require different levels of protection or restoration.      10  Figure 3. Map of Burns Bog showing network of piezometers, drainage ditches and other developments, demonstrating the degree of historical developments in Burns Bog (Howie et al., 2009).   Human Impacts   In this complex and highly sensitive habitat, several construction projects have been planned, one of which is the Highway 91/17 Upgrade Project (Hatfield Consultants, 2019). While the impact assessment states that there will be minimal encroaching on areas which are categorized as “areas within the water mound with attributes required to preserve the viability of Burns Bog” (Hatfield Consultants, 2019), it is important to properly categorize ecosystems and build a comprehensive understanding of which species are present in the area, where particularly sensitive areas may be located, and how conservation priorities may change as climate change progresses.     Climate Change   Climate change must be considered alongside any propositions for further development of Burns Bog, as temperature anomalies are expected to be 2 degrees above 1850 levels by 2050 (Kay et al. 2015; Erwin, 2008). As the climate warms, evapotranspiration may exceed precipitation within the watershed; combined with drainage from development, this will cause highly increased oxygen content, wide spread subsidence, faster decomposition and change in the peat content. It is crucial to consider climate change when developing conservation and restoration plans, particularly for a sensitive area such as Burns Bog. To address this, we  11 developed climate models that project precipitation and temperature trends in the Lower Mainland 80 years into the future. We compared two models with data collected from the couple model intercomparison 6 (CMIP6) which is used to assess how the Earth System responds to forcing, what are the origins and consequences of systematic model biases, and how can assess future climate changes given climate variability, predictability and uncertainties in scenarios.  for two possible precipitation and climate scenarios:   (1)  Shared Socio-economic Pathway 2 (SSP2), which represents a middle road to climate change in the future with medium challenges to adaptation and medium challenges to mitigation.   (2)   Shared Socio-economic Pathway 5 (SSP5), which represents a highway approach to climate change, with high challenges to adaptation and mitigation where fossil fuels continue to dominate energy production.    These climate models are to be used in conjunction with the maps and data generated from this project. Individuals or groups developing management plans for Burns Bog or the Delta Nature Reserve in the future may wish to identify which areas of the bog will be impacted the most by projected climate change and its effect on drainage in that area, plant indicator species and presence of sensitive (SARA red or blue listed) habitat.    Red-legged Frog Habitat   Special attention was paid throughout this project to the location and wellbeing of the local Red-legged frog (Rana aurora).  British Columbia is the northernmost range edge for R. aurora. The species distribution extends from southern British Columbia down the west coast to Northern California. In British Columbia R. aurora is listed to be “of conservation concern” by the Ministry of Environment Wildlife Branch, and as having “perceived future threats” by the Conservation Data Centre. It is also a species of special concern under COSEWIC (Waye, 1999). Although this species is not at low numbers globally, its breeding habitat is disappearing at alarming rates (Waye, 1999).   R. aurora has two distinct parts of its life cycle: terrestrial and aquatic. The aquatic habitat must meet multiple requirements in order to be suitable for R. aurora. The primary habitat requirement for R.aurora is open fresh water for breeding that persists at least until mid-summer (Environment Canada, 2016). Temporary water bodies are preferred over permanent bodies as this limits aquatic predation. Emergent vegetation provides essential cover so R.aurora can avoid terrestrial predators (Environment Canada, 2016). Areas that meet these requirements are often bogs and fens, but R. aurora can also be found in marshes,  12 swamps and other water bodies (Environment Canada, 2016). Sturdy vegetation is required to anchor egg masses - this vegetation can include emergent graminoids such as rushes, sedges, and grasses, shrubs such as hardhack and sweet gale, and submerged vegetation (Nussbaum et al. 1983). Sites suitable for hosting egg masses must be in semi-exposed areas in shallow water, have little water flow, and receive sunlight for at least a part of the day (Leonard et al. 1993; Corkran & Thoms 1996). Once hatched, tadpoles require relatively dense vegetation as well as submerged downed wood. R. aurora is tolerant of very acidic conditions, but does require pH to fall between 3.5 and 9.0 for successful development of embryos (Environment Canada, 2016). The terrestrial habitat of R. aurora is much less specific- they require a closed canopy to maintain a cool and moist microclimate, uncompacted soil, coarse woody debris, and undisturbed leaf litter (Orchard, 1984). R. aurora is not freeze tolerant so it must overwinter at the bottom of ponds or forest floors (Environment Canada, 2016).   In this study we will only be looking at the aquatic habitat of R. aurora. Aquatic habitat is limited across R. aurora’s range, and is at risk of degradation by factors such as encroachment of salt water, drought, or disturbance from anthropogenic activity (Waye, 1999). There have been sightings of R. aurora in Burns Bog, however these have not been formally published. Along with our vegetation survey, this project aims to formally document the locations and presence of suitable R. aurora habitat in Burns Bog so that future conservation decisions may also consider the wellbeing of this vulnerable species.    Methods   Data Collection              Vegetation Surveys   We identified potential areas of unique vegetation zones by utilizing a map included in the most recent report on Burns Bog released by the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (Figure 4), which broadly shows vegetation communities present within the bog and the Delta Nature Reserve (Hatfield Consultants, 2019). Our goal was to use these broad zones established by Hatfield Consultants as a starting point to conduct a finer scale survey of vegetation in the area. The boundaries of these zones were marked in Google Earth Pro and exported to Garmin BaseCamp. The areas we surveyed  are all contained within the Delta Nature Reserve, located within Burns Bog (Figure 1). The Delta Nature Reserve is shown in Figure 1 and 3, bounded on its north side by the intersection of Highway 17 and Highway 91.   13   We conducted surveys of vegetation percent cover using a stratified random sampling method. Walking pathways were primarily used in order to minimize disturbance to local vegetation. We walked as close as possible to the boundaries between vegetation zones established in Figure 5 using pathways, with the exception of the boundary between zones 2, 153 and 154, where off trail access was required. We attempted to access all zones established by the Hatfield Consultants report (2019), but only a subset of these zones were accessible on foot. Randomizing a sampling location every 200 metres allowed us to gather representative data for all zones based on their size (Causton, 1988; Sherman et al., 2008; Skalski, 1994). At each sampling location, we laid out a 30 metre transect, perpendicular to the established boundary between vegetation zones depicted in Figure 4 (for example, the boundary between zone 2 and zone 153). Three 1x1 metre quadrats were laid out, 1 at each end of the transect and 1 in the centre of the transect (Coulloudon et al., 1996) (Figure 5). These methods allowed us to capture multiple vegetation communities in our transects; those of the 2 intersecting vegetation zones seen in Figure 5 and the transitional area in between them. This methodology was repeated for 22 transects, resulting in a total of 96 sampled quadrats.    14  Figure 4. Adapted from Hatfield Consultants (2019). The Burns Bog area is shown, along with local red and blue listed habitat, as described by Hatfield Consultants. Area codes shown on the map are described in Table 2.       15  Figure 5. Diagram of sampling methods. Quadrat 1 is placed in Zone B, quadrat 2 in the transition zone, and quadrat 3 in Zone A.    Within each quadrat, we recorded (a) all species present in the quadrat, using the key from the 2019 report by Keller et al. (Keller, Kim, Han, & Zhang, 2019), (b) the percent cover of each species identified and (c) pH of water in the quadrat, if applicable. Table 1 summarizes the plant species most commonly found in Burns Bog and encountered during our study. Additionally, we took qualitative notes of general habitat features, including the types of species present in the area that were not captured in the quadrat, and proximity of the area to the boardwalk or other human disturbance. Additionally, we took note of habitat suitable for the red-legged frog (Rana aurora).    Red-legged Frog Habitat  Using the general habitat requirements for R. aurora presented in the introduction, we created a list of all habitat elements that must be present for us to consider an area as suitable habitat (Appendix B). The criteria in Appendix C includes essential habitat elements that we were able to identify during the winter months when our fieldwork took place. Though seasonality was limiting, our list still allowed us to identify habitat where R. aurora will have the potential to survive and reproduce (Waye, 1999). When areas that fit all defined habitat  16 requirements were discovered, the GPS coordinates and a qualitative description of the area was recorded. We evaluated areas that were found near our transects as well as other areas of the bog for presence of frog habitat.    Table 1. List of moss, herb, shrub, and tree species commonly found in Burns Bog  Focal Species for Wetland Identification Cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus) Red Alder (Alnus rubra) Bog Rosemary (Andromeda polifolia) Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis) Crowberry (Empetrum nigrum) Shore pine (Pinus contorta) Velvet-leaf blueberry (Vaccinium myrtilloides) Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) Sphagnum moss Western Redcedar (Thuja plicata) Bog cranberry (Oxycoccus oxycoccus) False lily-of-the-valley (Maianthemum dilatatum) Canadian bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) Hardhack (Spirea douglisii) Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus) Sweet gale (Myrica gale) Salal (Gaultheria shallon) Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) Labrador Tea (Ledum groenlandicum) Himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus) Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanum) Bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara) Round-leaf sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera)     17 Building an Interactive Map  Having a visual representation of our sampling sites was a major component of this project. The GPS location of each transect (n=22) surveyed in our study was plotted in Google myMaps, along with the GPS coordinates for each suitable frog habitat we found during our study (n=8). Additionally, we plotted the locations of SARA/COSEWIC red and blue listed habitats as determined by Hatfield Consultants in their 2019 report. Many of these areas identified by Hatfield Consultants were not accessible on foot and therefore could not be surveyed during our project, but the fact that red and blue listed habitats have been recorded here is extremely valuable information that will be informative in the future and therefore it was included in our final map. The inclusion of both our plot-level data on vegetation present and the existing information from Hatfield Consultants regarding red and blue-listed habitats will serve as a tool for identifying where unique or vulnerable habitats exist within Burns Bog, and how the diversity of Burns Bog can be maximized in the future through conservation and restoration of specific areas. Detailed descriptions of the habitats described by Hatfield Consultants (2019) can be found in Table 2.   This map has been made available to the public using a Google MyMaps link. The map details the vegetation present in each quadrat sampled and the percent cover of each type of vegetation. The public nature of a Google MyMap allows anybody interested in Burns Bog to access the information we have gathered. This allows the information to not only be used for conservation and management efforts in the area, but also to further the public’s understanding of Burns Bog’s ecology.    Table 2. Description of habitat types included on the interactive Google MyMap, as described by Hatfield Consultants (2019), and their SARA/COSEWIC listings.   Habitat Code Habitat Description SARA/COSEWIC Red or Blue Listed? 105 Young forest, bog environment. Part of this area is Western redcedar, Douglas fir, and Oregon beaked moss dominated, other parts are Lodgepole pine and peat moss dominated. Red listed 103 Some areas Black cottonwood, Red alder, Salmonberry dominated, other areas Reed canary grass and hardhack dominated. Black cottonwood, Red alder and Salmonberry dominated habitat is blue listed.  18 145 Marsh environment, reed and hardhack dominated in some areas, common cattail dominated in others.   Blue listed 144 Sparsely vegetated area, Black cottonwood, Red alder, Salmonberry dominated. Blue listed. 154 Young forest, swamp environment. Area is Red alder/Slough sedge dominated. Red listed 155 Black cottonwood, Red alder and Salmonberry dominated. Blue listed 153 Mature forest, pine and salal dominated in some areas, Western redcedar, Douglas fir and Oregon beaked moss dominated in others. Red listed 2 Tall shrub dominated swamp environment. Hardhack and Sitka sedge are dominant species. NA 106 Mature forest/swamp habitat. Western redcedar, vanilla-leaf (Achlys sp.). Part of this area is mature forest with sword fern, Western redcedar and skunk cabbage dominant. Western redcedar + vanilla leaf habitat is red listed, sword fern, Western redcedar and skunk cabbage habitat is blue listed. 107 Red Alder/Slough Sedge habitat. Swamp environment. Tall shrubs are the dominant vegetation present. Red listed   Data Analysis   We used ordination to find general patterns amongst vegetation communities within our data. Ordination tells us which species are often found together, and which sampling locations have similar composition in terms of the vegetation present at the site (Causton, 1988). Clustering within our ordination will allow us to determine which areas within the bog have similar habitat to one another, and therefore which areas can be considered to be similar when developing conservation strategies. The location of each sampling site will be plotted on an interactive map that our audience can use to learn more about the vegetation in a specific area of the Bog, as well as identify larger-scale vegetation patterns across the bog. The final map will demonstrate the localities of various vegetation communities within the Delta Nature  19 Reserve and will be presented to the Burns Bog Conservation Society for their future use. Additionally, localities of R.aurora habitat qualitatively identified in the field will be included on the map. A climate model projecting temperature and precipitation changes in the region for the next 80 years will be presented alongside the final map. Unique vegetation zones will respond differently to changes in temperature and precipitation- some vegetation communities will be more resilient to variation in temperature, precipitation and subsequently the water table of the bog.   Results and Discussion  Climate Models   Figure 6 and 7 show projected temperature and precipitation change given varying societal adaptation and mitigation efforts. As defined by the international Committee on New Integrated Climate Change Assessment Scenarios (ICONICS), the SSP5 scenario depicts a future where countries shift to a national standpoint where concerns are not focused on environmental and education safety, but instead food and energy security. This scenario predicts that carbon emissions will not be lowered, and as a result we expect large amounts of climate warming and significant changes to Earth’s precipitation patterns. The SSP5 scenario predicts more warming than the SSP2 scenario, as the latter models a future where countries share technology and decrease carbon emissions (Riahi et al., 2017).   The models developed for both the SSP2 scenario and SSP5 scenario suggest warming will occur over the next 80 years in the Lower Mainland (Figure 6). The SSP5 scenario predicts approximately 7.5 degrees celsius of warming, while the SSP2 scenario predicts approximately 2 degrees celsius of warming. Warming of the Lower Mainland will cause an increase in evapotranspiration of water from Burns Bog, which may have detrimental effects on the water table and ecological integrity of the area. Additionally, species such as R.aurora, which require a specific temperature range and water pH in order to survive (Appendix B) may be impacted by a rise in local temperatures.   Our precipitation model shows  there will be a negligible change in annual precipitation over the next 80 years in the Lower Mainland (Figure 7). For Burns Bog, this has several implications; given the future predictions of relatively high temperatures and stable precipitation conditions, there will be a significant change in bog characteristics as a result of higher evapotranspiration rates from increased temperature, but stable precipitation rates. This net loss of water from the rain fed bog means the water table will drop, potentially allowing for  20 invasive species to outcompete native species which require maintenance of the water table. As previously mentioned, vulnerable wildlife such as R.aurora are also likely to experience a loss of suitable habitat given stable precipitation levels and increased local temperatures. Additionally, current development and construction in the area threatens to further drain the bog, and with higher summer temperatures and stable precipitation, issues caused by alterations to the Burns Bog water table will only be exacerbated.     Figure 6. SSP2 and SSP5 scenarios for  changes in surface temperature in the Pacific Northwest over the next 80 years. Both models show significant warming in the region, with approximately 2०C warming for SSP2 projections and 7.5०C warming for SSP5 projections. Note that the y-axis scale varies between the SSP2 and SSP5 scenarios.   21     Figure 7. Changes in precipitation in the Pacific Northwest over the next 80 years, modelled using both an SSP2 and SSP5 climate scenario. Both scenarios show negligible precipitation change in the future.             22 Mapping Vegetation Surveys and Rana aurora Habitat   (a) Interactive Map   Using data from our vegetation surveys, we created an interactive map where users will be able to zoom in on specific areas of Burns Bog and determine the vegetation present in the area (Figure 8a,b). This product was created with the intent of a future management team using the map to locate areas of vegetation that are similar to each other, as well as areas containing vulnerable species. This information will be able to aid in the development of effective management and conservation strategies. The map is public and can be accessed by anybody viewing the link above. This means  the interactive map is (a) an easy addition to the Burns Bog Conservation Society website, and (b) an open source platform for other groups or individuals who would like to conduct surveys and add their data to the map in the future. In addition to the map, a comprehensive list of all vegetation present in each quadrat can be found in Appendix A, and detailed tables embedded in the interactive map show the percent cover of all recorded vegetation at our survey sites. Our vegetation surveys revealed that many unique vegetation communities exist along the transects sampled- this habitat heterogeneity should be considered when developing management and conservation plans in the future. This finding is described further in our statistical analysis section.    Certain areas of Burns Bog and the Delta Nature Reserve where we intended to conduct vegetation surveys were inaccessible on foot due to flooding and other environmental constraints. These areas are represented using polygons in Figure 8. Habitat classifications established by Hatfield Consultants (2019) were used to describe these polygons and the vegetation communities they contain. Hatfield Consultants assigned vegetation classification codes to each unique habitat within Burns Bog using biogeoclimatic zones as defined by the British Columbia Wetland Classification Guide (Hatfield Consultants, 2019), and these habitats were cross referenced using the Wetland Classification Guide to determine if they were are red or blue listed under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). We have utilized this information to fill in the gaps in our data collection, as consideration of red and blue listed habitats is crucial when  considering how to most effectively manage and conserve Burns Bog. In total, there are 3 blue listed areas, 4 red listed areas, and 1 area containing both red and blue listed habitat identified on our map. Descriptions of these blue and red listed habitats are detailed in the interactive map.  The interactive map additionally displays areas where suitable habitat for the red-legged frog (Rana aurora) was located. In total, we found 8 locations that met the habitat  23 requirements of R.aurora. These locations are shown using green check marks in Figure 8a. These locations met requirements for standing vegetation, submerged vegetation, water pH and water depth, among other habitat traits outlined in Appendix B. Suitable habitat areas are concentrated in a section of the Delta Nature Reserve that will be impacted by the future Highway 91/17 expansion project (Hatfield Consultants, 2019). These impacted habitats, on the west side of the Delta Nature Reserve closest to Highway 91 (Figure 8a) should be monitored closely in the future, specifically during and after the highway expansion project. Additionally, special attention should be paid to habitats identified outside of this vulnerable area where R.aurora populations may be more likely to persist due to lessened anthropogenic impacts. In the future, those making decisions may wish to consider prioritizing areas where suitable frog habitat has been identified and anthropogenic disturbance has been minimal, as R.aurora populations may have a better chance of survival in these areas. All suitable habitats identified on this map serve as ideal locations for future efforts to locate R.aurora egg masses and individuals and track R.aurora persistence in the area.      Figure 8a. A still image of the interactive map created using data from vegetation and frog habitat surveys in the Burns Bog area. Green check marks represent areas in which frog habitat was found,  24 brown markers represent areas where a vegetation survey was conducted. The grey dashed line represents the area where R.aurora habitat may be impacted by the future Highway 91/17 expansion project. Figure 8b shows a close-up of an area where a vegetation survey was conducted, with green, yellow and brown markers representing quadrats 1 (forested area), 2 (transitional area) and 3 (non-forested area) respectively. The walking path used to access these sites is also pictured.   (c) Statistical Analysis In order to make our description of distinct vegetation zones existing within Burns Bog more robust, we conducted a series of ordination analyses. Our prediction was that we should find clusters of points relating to the first, second, and third quadrats sampled along our transects respectively as they should contain distinct communities (see figure 5). Note that the points in the following plots are arranged so the first part of the number is the transect id and the number following the point is the quadrat number (so 15.3 would be transect 15 quadrat 3). The first ordination (figure 9) did loosley separate into this predicted arrangement. In figure 9 the green rectangle contains a tight cluster of quadrat 3 points, the purple rectangle contains a tight cluster of quadrat 1 points, the pink rectangle contains a looser mix of quadrat 3 and 2 points, and the blue striped rectangle  contains a loose mixture of quadrat 1 and 2 points. The blue striped rectangle appears not to be a single cluster but many small indistinct clusters - which is why it is marked separately than the rest.  Referring back to Figure 5, transects were designed so that quadrat 2 would always capture vegetation in the transition zone, an area that is a mix of quadrats 1 and 3 (forested and non-forested areas). This explains why we have the two clusters that include mixtures of quadrats 3 and 2 and quadrats 1 and 2.       Figure 9. An ordination plot for all of the sites in our analysis. Points represent individual quadrats. Dimension 1 explains 16.340843% of the variance in the data while dimension 2 explains 11.403854% of the variance in our data.        25 Additional variation can be seen in this graph because we believe that there are more than two distinct vegetation zones in our sampled regions, causing variation in our data. To test this we ran ordinations for sites we assumed to contain the same two vegetation zones (where we would predict to see one vegetation zone form a quadrat 1 cluster and the other form a quadrat 3 cluster). Figure 10 shows an ordination of the two vegetation zones that we found to dominate most of our data - bog and forest. We can see that a clear quadrat 3 cluster formed in green, a clear quadrat 1 cluster formed in yellow, and a cluster of quadrat 1 and 2 formed in brown. In this plot we can see that the mix of quadrat 3 and 2 present in figure 9 disappeared. Using observations from the field this makes sense. In the bog and forest areas tree cover abruptly stopped going into the transition zone which was dominated by a mix of forest and bog shrubs. This sharp difference in a major species group for this region makes it easier to separate the forest and transition areas, however this sharp distinction was not present between the transition and bog area.  There are also outliers in the bottom left corner, these points represent transects with a lot of bare ground that did not follow the general trend of the area. Both dimension 1 and 2 in figure 10 explain higher percentages of the variation in the data than dimensions 1 and 2 in figure 9. The increase in these percentages as well as the better defined and explained clusters lends support to our hypothesis that much of the variation in figure 6 is caused by having more than two ecosystem types present.      Figure 10. An ordination for the two sites where the forest vegetation zones met the bog vegetation zone. Points represent individual quadrats.   Dimension 1 explains 23.509590% of the variance in the data, Dimension 2 explains 16.397339% of the variance of the data.       26   Figure 11 shows ordinations for the transition between non-bog wetland and forest (A) and skunk cabbage meadow and forest (B). For figure 11 A quadrat 1 represents wetland area while quadrat 3 represents forest. For Figure 11 B quadrat 1 represents skunk cabbage meadow while quadrat 3 represents forest. In these plots we were able to see a clustering of the forest habitat in quadrat three (blue rectangles) however could not see major clustering between the transition zone and quadrat 1 habitat. Despite the small sample size for these plots and the fact that we could not separate the transition zone from the wetland areas we also see that the amount of variation in our data explained by these plots is greater than that in figure 9.          Figure 11. An ordination for the data collected along the trail and river area in part A and in a ‘skunk cabbage meadow’ section of the bog in part B. Points represent individual quadrats. For A dimension 1 explains 29.667748% of the variance in the data while dimension 2 explains 26.114263% of the variation in the data. For B dimension 1 explains 32.96663% of the variance in the data while dimension 2 explains 26.09313% of the variation in the data   A limitation to these subplots is that the sample size is low, especially for the more rare ecosystem transitions. For example, in Figure 12 we see the transitions in the forest interior (wet forest vs dry forest) where there were only two transects. For this plot there are no clusters for quadrat number, but instead we see the two transects separate out (transect 17 and 19). This can be expected with such little sample size and exemplifies the imperfections in this analysis.     A.    B.  27    Figure 12. An ordination for the data collected in the forest interior section of the Burns Bog. Dimension 1 explains 51.54205% of the variance in the data while dimension 2 explains 24.36286% of the variation in the data.       These analyses show that we were correct in our estimations of major vegetation zone boundaries, which were estimated from the Hatfield Consultants (2019) report. This is shown by the fact that, with the exception of figure 12, quadrats 1 and 3 were always separated. Though we did not get the transition zone to separate into a distinct cluster this could possibly be due to limitations in sample size and the difficulty that it does contain attributes of both quadrat 1 and 3.    Implications and Recommendations   Synthesis of the models generated for precipitation and temperature in the Metro Vancouver area indicate increases in local temperature over the next 50 years, with relative stability in local precipitation. This suggests that habitats which are currently a conservation priority and sensitive to environmental changes, such as SARA blue and red listed habitats, will continue to be a conservation priority. These areas are identified in our interactive map as red, blue and purple polygons, accompanied by descriptions of the biogeographic zone associated with them. Data from the vegetation surveys we have conducted can aid in identifying sensitive habitats that exist on a smaller scale than those currently described in the polygons on our map, as our surveys revealed that Burns Bog consists of many small, unique habitats. These findings contrast the ~12 large habitat areas described by Hatfield Consultants (2019).    It is important to understand that Burns Bog is composed of a diverse set of ecosystem types that provide habitat to a varied assortment of organisms. The statistical analysis we conducted in section 2.2 confirms the distinctness of each ecosystem type. Figure 6, Figure 7, and Figure 8 show distinct boundaries between various zones within Burns Bog. Many of these  28 zones are located throughout red listed habitat, shown in figure 5, which indicates how much diversity is occupying areas within the bog that are at the highest levels of risk and most sensitive to disturbance. These results suggest that even small changes due to development or climate variation in the Burns Bog area could result in a significant loss of bog biodiversity and function. The heterogeneous nature of this area should be kept in mind when future management and conservation plans for Burns Bog are developed. Going forward, the bog should be treated as a mosaic of different habitats with unique conservation needs.   A primary goal for this project was that the data we have gathered would be able to help to build a more comprehensive understanding of where different vegetation communities exist within Burns Bog, with the hope that this information will inform conservation efforts in the future. While we have provided data that demonstrates the vegetation present in many areas in Burns Bog and have evaluated the suitability of different areas for populations of R. aurora, this information can be interpreted in many ways and built upon with future projects. Fine scale surveys such as the ones we conducted for this project can also help to deepen community understanding of Burns Bog, as it is an area frequented and enjoyed by many residents of Metro Vancouver. Community understanding helps to build appreciation for this unique natural area, which increases the chance of the area remaining preserved and ecologically sound in the future. For the purpose of continual community engagement with our project, we have ensured that the data we have collected is available to the public via Google MyMaps, including the spreadsheets of our raw data. Individuals who want to learn more about the vegetation communities in Burns Bog and add to the information we have gathered can use both our methods and our interactive map to conduct further surveys.    Information on the vegetation present throughout Burns Bog will also be useful in the future for the purpose of classifying vegetation communities in the bog on a fine scale. While reports such as the one from Hatfield Consultants (2019) show that unique habitat types exist throughout Burns Bog on a large scale, it is evident from our surveys that there is far more variation in habitat within the area than these reports suggest. Areas classified in the Hatfield Consultants (2019) report are important to recognize and the methodology behind their work is sound, but a weakness identified in the report is that the areas classified average ~1 km2 in size. By classifying vegetation communities in this manner, small, vulnerable vegetation communities in Burns Bog may be missed. One example is a survey site containing a skunk cabbage dominated meadow. This meadow was a stark contrast to the area around it, a Western redcedar dominated forest. If larger areas are used when classifying vegetation communities, habitats like this may be missed when plans for restoration, construction or conservation are developed. The vegetation surveys conducted throughout this project will serve as valuable information during future planning efforts for Burns Bog, as they provide insight into the  29 vegetation communities in many areas of the bog that were previously unexplored. It is also important to discuss how this information could be improved upon in the future. A limitation encountered in our project was that surveys were primarily conducted in the fall and winter. In the future, replicate surveys conducted during the spring or summer may reveal further information about the vegetation communities present throughout the Burns Bog area.   The R. aurora habitat we were able to identify provides insight into where the most suitable red-legged frog habitat is located within Burns Bog. Tracking populations of R. aurora in Burns Bog is crucial; this species is vulnerable and exists at its northernmost range limit in the Lower Mainland. For those attempting to locate R. aurora, the habitats we have identified are areas with a high likelihood of supporting this species. Similar to our vegetation surveys, we hope that those collecting information on R. aurora presence in Burns Bog in the future can add information to the interactive map that we have created, and that members of the public will be able to use the map if they want to identify suitable habitat or educate themselves on how to keep an eye out for R. aurora. Generating this type of public awareness may also help people to minimize their impacts when walking near areas that have the potential to support R.aurora.            Our survey of R.aurora habitat also revealed that a significant number of suitable habitats exist within an area very close to the proposed Highway 17/91 expansion project. This discovery suggests 2 things: (1) that habitats in this area, as highlighted in Figure 8, should be monitored closely as the Highway 17/91 expansion project proceeds to determine if R.aurora individuals are found, and (2) habitats outside of this area should be considered carefully during planning for future construction and conservation in Burns Bog; they are most likely to continue to be able to support R.aurora individuals as they will not be negatively impacted by the expansion project. If R.aurora individuals are found in habitats disturbed by the expansion project, it will be even more important to project undisturbed habitat as populations affected by the expansion project may experience decline or cease to exist.    In addition to our surveys of vegetation communities and red-legged frog habitat, the climate models developed for this project provide an important insight into the future of conservation at Burns Bog. Our climate models project steady warming throughout the Lower Mainland even when tested across different levels of climate mitigation tactics. Burns Bog is an ombrotrophic bog and uses precipitation as its sole source of moisture to maintain the water table that is required for the bog to function. Therefore, the Burns Bog area as a whole is likely to become more vulnerable as climate change progresses. Furthermore, areas such as zones 107 and 154 in Figure 4 (further described in Table 2) are more likely to become a conservation concern in the future, as they require significant water input to maintain their ecological integrity. Disruption in the bog’s water table has the potential to alter water pH, which will be  30 detrimental to species such as R.aurora that can only survive in a certain pH range. This further supports the idea that existing habitats suitable for R.aurora should be a conservation priority in the years to come, and pH and water temperature should be tracked in order to detect any changes in these habitats. Moving forward, these climate models can be used in conjunction with the data collected from our vegetation surveys to identify which habitats should be considered the most sensitive to future climate change. They will be a useful tool for future conservation in Burns Bog, and we propose that the models be used as a complimentary piece of information to any future work on conservation of vegetation communities and R.aurora habitat in the area. Future construction and development in the area will likely exacerbate existing climate threats to Burns Bog and the many diverse natural communities it supports. Construction projects that will modify or disturb the bog and the bog’s water table will only magnify the loss to bog diversity and functions, especially in vulnerable red and blue listed habitats.   Overall, it is of the utmost importance to consider the incredible diversity and unique habitat present within Burns Bog. Future construction or development in the Burns Bog area must be carried out with extreme caution, and areas identified as most vulnerable to climate threats should be a priority for conservation and restoration. We hope that the data we have collected on vegetation communities will provide a stepping stone to identifying where small pockets of vulnerable habitat exist in Burns Bog. The tools we have developed, including the interactive map and climate models,can be used to inform future conservation and management of Burns Bog, educate the public about the ecology of Burns Bog and provide a platform for individuals in the future who hope to further develop our collective understanding of the area.  Acknowledgements  We would like to thank Michael Lipsen for supervising this project, as well as Tara Ivanochko and Maayan Kreitzman for their feedback and support. We would also like to thank the Burns Bog Conservation Society, particularly Nikolai Karpun, who collaborated with our student team on this project, offered advice and feedback on drafts and lent us field equipment. Finally, we would like to thank all of our ENVR 400 peers who helped us over the past 8 months.      31 Appendix A. Summary of vegetation found in each quadrat surveyed.   Table 3. Summary of plant species present in each quadrat surveyed. Quadrat numbers correspond directly to points on the interactive map (Figure 4).  1.1 Sphagnum moss Labrador tea Deciduous shrubs (alder shrub? 1.2 Salal Non-sphagnum moss Sphagnum moss Labrador tea Western redcedar Pinus species 1.3 Pinus species Western redcedar Labrador tea 2.1 Non sphagnum moss Labrador tea Oval leaf blueberry 2.2 Salal Labrador tea 2.3 Salal Labrador tea 3.1 Salal Alder 3.2 Salal Labrador tea Grass species Doug fir  32 3.3 Salal Non-sphagnum moss Labrador tea Western redcedar 4.1 Labrador tea Deciduous shrub Hardhack Bracken fern English holly 4.2 Salal Labrador tea Hardhack 4.3 Salal 5.1 Salal Labrador Tea 5.2 Salal non-sphagnum moss labrador tea bracken fern 5.3 Salal Non sphagnum moss Sphagnum moss Western redcedar 6.1 Salal Labrador Tea Deciduous Shrub 6.2 Deciduous Shrub Salal 6.3 Salal Non-sphagnum moss Bracken Fern  33 7.1 Salal Non-sphagnum moss Labrador Tea Hardhack 7.2 Western Hemlock Deciduous Shrub Labrador Tea Sphagnum Moss Non-sphagnum moss Salal 7.3 Salal Western Redcedar Bracken fern Lodgepole pine 8.1 Non-sphagnum moss Labrador tea 8.2 Blueberry Labrador Tea Sphagnum Moss Salal 8.3 Salal Lodgepole pine Blueberry 9.1 Birch Hardhack Grass species Sphagnum moss 9.2 Grass species Bog Laurel Himalayan Blackberry 9.3 Himalayan Blackberry Bracken Fern Western Redcedar Salal  34 10.1 Grass Species Hardhack Bracken Fern Birch 10.2 Birch Bracken Fern Hardhack 10.3 Salal Hardhack 11.1 Deciduous Shrub Hardhack Western Redcedar Alder 11.2 Alder Hardhack Skunk Cabbage 11.3 Bracken Fern Hardhack Douglas Fir Grass species 12.1 Salal Non-sphagnum moss Western redcedar Douglas Fir Deciduous Shrub White Pine 12.2 White Pine Deciduous Shrub Bracken Fern Douglas Fir Western Redcedar Salal Non-sphagnum moss  35 12.3 Salal Non-sphagnum moss Western Redcedar Douglas Fir White Pine 13.1 Alder Grass species Deciduous Shrub 3-leaf Foam Flower 13.2 Alder Grass species Bracken fern Deciduous Shrub 13.3 Bush Alder Himalayan Blackberry Sword Fern Western Redcedar Grass species Alder 14.1 Alder Western Redcedar Deciduous shrub 14.2 Skunk Cabbage Deciduous shrub Grass species Non-sphagnum moss 14.3 Alder Grass species 15.1 Salal 15.2 Salal Labrador Tea Blueberry  36 15.3 Labrador Tea Salal 16.1 Labrador Tea Deciduous shrub 16.2 Salal Labrador Tea 16.3 Salal 17.1 Sphagnum moss Labrador Tea Blueberry 17.2 Skunk Cabbage Western Hemlock Sphagnum moss 17.3 Salal Sphagnum moss Western Redcedar Western Hemlock 18.1 Hardhack Sphagnum moss Salal 18.2 Salal Non-sphagnum moss Alder Hardhack Birch 18.3 Hardhack Sphagnum moss Non-Sphagnum moss Salal  37 19.1 Salal Sphagnum moss Douglas Fir Lodgepole Pine 19.2 Blueberry Lodgepole pine Deciduous shrub Douglas Fir Labrador Tea Sphagnum Moss Salal 19.3 Salal Labrador Tea Sphagnum Moss Non-Sphagnum Moss Douglas Fir Lodgepole Pine Blueberry 20.1 Hardhack Salal 20.2 Sphagnum Moss Skunk Cabbage 20.3 Birch Hardhack Non-Sphagnum moss 21.1 Salal Western Redcedar Hardhack Bracken Fern 21.2 Salal Vaccinium spp. Hardhack Western Redcedar Sphagnum Moss  38 21.3 Hardhack Bracken Fern   22.1 NA (flooded area-deep water) 22.2 Grass species Bracken Fern 22.3 Bracken Fern Non-sphagnum moss Unidentified Deciduous Shrub   Appendix B. Frog Habitat Checklist   Table 4. Frog habitat checklist for field.  Habitat Element Required Components Open Fresh Water Water is present, depth at edge < 32 cm, deepest depth > 50 cm Water Cover Emergent vegetation is present , covering more than 30% but less than 80% of water Water Flow Water must be unmoving in at least 80% of the pool Vegetation Pool contains emergent gamanoids OR partially submerged shrubs OR submerging vegetation (note which categories present) pH 9 > pH > 3.5 (record reading) Submerged Cover Submerged logs or other potential hiding places present (note type if other)  39 Works Cited  Causton, D. R. (1988). An Introduction to Vegetation Analysis.  Chapman, S., Buttler, A., Francez, A.-J., Laggoun-Defarge, F., Vasander, H., Schloter, M., Mitchell, E. (2003). Exploitation of Northern Peatlands and Biodiversity Maintenance: A Conflict between Economy and Ecology. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 1(10), 525. doi: 10.2307/3868163 Corkran, C.C. and C.R. 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Research Branch, Ministry of Forests. WHR-15. Victoria, B.C.  Sherman, R., Mullen, R., Haomin, L., Zhendong, F., & Yi, W. (2008). Spatial patterns of plant diversity and communities in Alpine ecosystems of the Hengduan Mountains , northwest Yunnan , China. Plant Ecology, 1(2), 117–136. https://doi.org/10.1093/jpe/rtn012 Skalski, J. R. (1994). Estimating Wildlife Populations Based on Incomplete Area Surveys. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 22(2), 192–203. Tiner, R.W. (2017). Wetland Indicators: a guide to wetland identification, delineation, classification, and mapping. Boca Raton, Florida: Taylor and Francis. Waye, H. (1999). COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report Red-legged Frog on the Red-legged Rana aurora in Canada. Ottawa. Whitfield, P. H., Hebda, R. J., Jeglum, J. K. & Howie, S. (2006). Whe Key to the Bog’s  Ecological Recovery, Proceedings of CWRA Conference, Vancouver, BC, 2006,  58–70.      

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