Fresh water health is one of three indicators and has five measures. We monitor each of these measures every year so that we have a clear picture of whether or not we are successfully maintaining and restoring the park. This helps us to plan for and make decisions that will keep the park intact for the present and for the future.
Amphibians tell us a lot about the health of wetland habitats. Their permeable skin and complex life cycle make them vulnerable to environmental changes. This makes them good indicators of ecological health.
Every year we go to the same sites and look for:
- Long-toed salamanders
- Boreal Toads
- Columbia Spotted Frogs
- Wood Frogs.
We compare our findings from year to year to find out if amphibian populations are increasing or decreasing.
Our researchers look and listen for these amphibians in breeding sites including ponds, pools and wet meadows that can support amphibian larvae. We do this every year from April to May so that we can observe breeding adults, egg masses, and tadpole stages of the amphibians life cycle.
2) Water quality
C.A.B.I.N. stands for the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network. It is a national program developed by Environment Canada to keep an eye on the health of Canadian lakes and streams.
Our researchers collect bugs and send them for sampling to find out exactly which ones and how many of each we have in our lakes and streams. We also collect information about each site and its water chemistry, climate and the way that water moves over and covers the site. All of these pieces of information are put together to create a clear picture of the health of our aquatic ecosystems.
3) Lake fish index
We compare historic fish populations to present day fish populations. How similar or different are current lake fish communities compared to historic lake fish communities prior to fish stocking.
4) Water connectivity
We take inventory of all of the places where fish have to use crossing structures to pass under highways and roadways. Each structure is assessed as either a full barrier, partial barrier or no barrier to fish. This helps us plan for future crossing structures and to make decisions about which existing structures need improvement.
Parks Canada is working to stop non-native fish from pushing Westslope Cutthroat Trout toward extinction in Banff National Park. The hanging culvert on Outlet Creek along the Bow Valley Parkway has kept a pure population of this species at risk isolated from species, such as rainbow and bull trout, for decades. When we began rebuilding the road here, aquatic ecologists teamed up with engineers to ensure that Outlet Creek continues to be a refuge for westslope cutthroat trout.
Through this project, we are keeping our roads safe and our fish and streams wild.
5) River and stream integrity
We find out how much native fish habitat in Banff National Park is occupied by non-native fish.