Community Driven Research
Our goal is to help communities address the issues and data gaps they have identified as a priority. We provide active hunters with training and oceanographic and environmental monitoring equipment needed to quantify the environmental changes they are observing and contribute to assessing cumulative impacts in the region. We integrate Traditional knowledge and scientific research in the design and implementation of programs which are designed to provide the knowledge needed by communities, wildlife managers and other stakeholders to address local resiliency and environmental justice issues.
Combining Traditional Knowledge and Western Science
Inuit and Cree hunters have traveled across the marine environments in Hudson Bay for generations, giving them in-depth knowledge of the sea ice habitats and wildlife ecology. The Arctic Eider Society has built meaningful relationships with communities in the region and closely collaborates with them to design and implement all aspects of our programming. A comprehensive synthesis of traditional knowledge collected over the last 20 years has identified key data gaps and priorities for research. We train hunters to use oceanographic and ecological monitoring equipment to track changing conditions, developing local capacity and employment in environmental monitoring. Integrating indigenous knowledge with scientific data provides a more comprehensive picture of the impacts to these ecosystems and the communities that depend on them. The Arctic Eider Society is also beginning preliminary development on an Interactive Knowledge Mapping Platform, which will allow communities, researchers and other stakeholders to share data, provide feedback and shape the future of our community based monitoring programs.
Our programs currently focus on combining wildlife surveys with oceanographic sampling via a network of monitoring sites that have been established using Inuit and Cree knowledge about the region. We train local hunters and youth on how to deploy Salinity, Temperature and Depth (CTD) profilers and take water and ice core samples to quantify oceanographic conditions in key habitats. Longer term deployments of oceanographic stations provide time series of changing conditions and support hunter sampling and ecological studies at polynyas and floe edges.
Combining data from each community allows us to more comprehensively assess regional oceanographic conditions and cumulative impacts including the size and characteristics of freshwater plumes observed under the sea ice during the winter season.
Watch community based research in action!Salinity Profiling | Water Sampling | Ice Core Sampling
Time Lapse Monitoring
Back in 2006, we pioneered the development of custom time-lapse imaging techniques for use in harsh Arctic conditions, capturing ground-breaking imagery underwater and above the ice using aerial structures. Time-series images are taken at intervals ranging from every 20 seconds to every 20 minutes, allowing us to capture patterns over the full winter season, providing detailed information on sea ice dynamics and winter habitat use by wildlife.
Researchers and Inuit hunters then analyze the footage and provide their own unique interpretation of the events captured by time lapse monitoring. This is another novel way that we integrate Traditional and scientific knowledge and engage the community in our work.
Check out our video “Floe” showing timelapse monitoring in action!
To date, we have captured over 100 timelapse sequences of changing sea ice conditions and wildlife habitat use at floe edges and polynas. We are currently working to make all of these sequences available to the public and stakeholders through development of a unique Interactive Knowledge Mapping Platform.
Wildlife in Hudson Bay including eider ducks, seals, belugas and polar bears are increasingly being affected by changing sea ice conditions. Eiders and Belugas in particular have been becoming trapped in ice and dying off in large numbers. Understanding the severity and frequency of these events and why they occur is a key priority for the Arctic Eider Society. These events can often go unnoticed unless they happen close to a community or near active hunting grounds.
In conjunction with oceanography surveys, our programs provide increased coverage and early detection of entrapment events, informing wildlife co-management efforts to sustain these populations. You can learn more about wildlife entrapment events in our 2013 Newsletter or watch some of our footage Narrated by Sir David Attenborough featured here in Frozen Planet!”
To better understand how changing conditions affect wildlife, we also conduct in-depth interdisciplinary studies to examine the relationship between the foraging ecology of individual animals and larger scale group and population dynamics. Remember that line from People of a Feather? “This is how it all got started, sitting in a box watching ducks”. Our detailed studies of eiders began in 2002,
Click here to check out one of our original underwater footage!”
This footage is featured in People of a Feather and has led to sequences in major series including Planet Earth, as well as a long list of prestigious publications on the winter ecology of eiders in the scientific literature.
Our core programs are based in the community of Sanikiluaq, with new programs now underway in Inukjuaq, Umiuaq, Kuujjuaraapik and Chisasibi. In winter, the landfast sea ice platform of east Hudson Bay provides access to a key oceanographic monitoring sites. Data gathered from research programs based in each community provide a broad scale perspective of the environmental changes occurring in the region. Visit our page for the East Hudson Bay Network to learn more about the communities we work in.
Research programs address cumulative impacts of environmental change and development projects on the marine ecosystem of Hudson Bay. This involves understanding how hydroelectricity demands influence the extent and dynamics of freshwater plumes under winter sea ice, including changes to salinity, currents and sea ice dynamics at polynyas and floe edges. Impacts on winter ecology and wildlife populations are also addressed including entrapment events of eiders, belugas and other marine organisms.
Support Inuit Youth and Education Programs
This is Daniel Qavvik, lead youth featured in People of a Feather. Following involvement with our programs, he completed his training as “Student of the Year” at the Nunavut Arctic College and became the first Inuit wildlife officer in his hometown of Sanikiluaq! Since People of a Feather was released, many youth have approached us about getting involved in community based research programs. Help us continue to inspire youth like Daniel by donating to support our education and youth engagement programs.