The Saskatchewan River Delta: Ecological responses to changing wetland water levels and Opaskwayak Cree Nation wetland ethnoecology.
About the Study:
The Saskatchewan River Delta (SRD) is the largest freshwater inland delta in North America. Human development has altered the natural water level fluxes in the delta. Efforts to mimic the natural water level variation with water control structures have had mixed success. We needed to better understand the ecology of wetlands in the region and improve management to benefit stakeholders.
Phase 1 of this project manipulated water levels in the SRD’s Summerberry Marsh complex. We then monitored the responses of aquatic vegetation, water chemistry, aquatic invertebrates, waterbirds and muskrats.
Phase 2 examined the wetland ecosystems of the delta through the use of the indigenous knowledge.
This study provided empirical information that improved our understanding of wetlands within the SRD. This information can now be used to improve management of SRD wetlands and enhance waterfowl, fish and muskrat production. This will benefit local residents and other stakeholders that are dependent on these resources. The ethnoecology component of the study resulted in a guide to wetlands for the Opaskwayak Cree Nation.