Salmon Watersheds Program

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Summer 2022 Sustainability Scholars Program Internship Opportunity

January 4, 2022

The Salmon Watersheds Program is pleased to be partnering with the UBC Sustainability Initiative to offer current UBC graduate students the opportunity to work on the following Fraser Estuary Research Collaborative (FERC) project. The FERC is focused on advancing efforts to protect the Fraser River estuary in collaboration with key NGO and Indigenous partners. If you are interested in producing new knowledge and supporting Fraser estuary protection through scientific, technical, governance and policy innovations, the following project might be for you. Read on for more details.

Background & Overview

Climate change is one of the most pressing risks to Pacific salmon, impacting various life stages in both marine and freshwater habitats. Knowledge of climate impacts to Pacific salmon and their habitats is needed to inform forward-thinking management and recovery actions and identify priority areas for climate change mitigation efforts. The Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Salmon Watersheds Program is undertaking a multi-year project to assess climate indicators for salmon habitats and conduct climate change vulnerability assessments for salmon Conservation Units throughout BC. The outputs of this work will be integrated into our online data visualization tool, the Pacific Salmon Explorer.

Project description

Estuarine habitats are important rearing habitats for juvenile salmon exiting freshwater and are the gateway for adult salmon returning to spawn. Unfortunately, these habitats are threatened by the combination of human land-use changes and climate change. Sea level is rising, and along much of BC’s coast there is little opportunity for estuaries to shift inland as human developments have put a hard line in the path of advancing shorelines. There are other climate related threats to estuaries, including the Fraser River estuary, and one of the goals of the proposed project is to describe these threats and candidate indicators that would enable us to quantify their magnitude. Assessing the state of climate-related threats to estuarine habitats used by salmon is an important first step towards habitat restoration work required to improve survival of salmon and mitigate climate change risks.

Project scope

The Scholar will lead research into the climate-related threats to estuarine habitats used by Pacific salmon and identify indicators that allow us to track the magnitude of these threats. Through discussions with their mentor (and potentially input from a broader group of experts), several key indicators will be identified. The scholar will then seek out appropriate, publicly available datasets needed to quantify these key indicators, and assess the indicators (where possible) for the Fraser River estuary. Key research questions and associated tasks are:

  1. What are the major climate-related threats to estuarine habitats used by salmon?
  2. What are some candidate indicators that would allow us to track the magnitude of these threats?
  3. What are available datasets that could be used to quantify indicators?
  4. What is the state of climate indicators in the Fraser River basin?

Recognizing the scope of this project may be ambitious, the last question and associated tasks are not required deliverables. Regardless of the Scholar’s progress here, the final report on applicable indicators and relevant datasets will assist PSF staff in following up to determine the state of key indicators in the Fraser Estuary, thus furthering the goals of PSF’s broader multiyear project to assess climate change indicators. The Scholar’s final report will also lay the groundwork for PSF to work towards applying indicators across other regions.

Deliverables

Time Commitment

Required/preferred Skills and Background

Click here for more information.

Applications close at midnight PST on January 30, 2022

Click here to apply.

Contact Karen Taylor at sustainability.scholars@ubc.ca if you have questions.