COMMUNITY-DRIVEN RESEARCH NETWORK
WHO WE ARE
The Arctic Eider Society’s Community-Driven Research Network (CDRN) is a collaborative group of community leaders, academics, funding agencies and various levels of government working towards a common goal of understanding large scale cumulative impacts of environmental change and development projects affecting sea ice ecosystems in James Bay and Hudson Bay.
Our CDRN has been successfully documenting key indicators of environmental change since 2014, including oceanographic and sea ice conditions, wildlife contaminants, and wildlife distribution and abundance. The project builds on a long legacy of consultation and priorities identified through the Hudson Bay Programme and Voices from the Bay.
Community-driven research provides capacity to help communities address priority issues and data gaps. Our approach values long-term relationships and ongoing consultation throughout each stage in a project. We provide active hunters with training , tools and expertise needed to systematically document and understand the environmental changes they are observing. We combine Indigenous knowledge and traditional tools with scientific research and cutting edge technology in the design and implementation of programs, towards providing the information needed by communities, wildlife managers and other stakeholders to address resiliency and environmental justice issues.
- Provide training an meaningful employment for local hunters and youth, allowing them to use their skills and knowledge of sea ice ecosystems to systematically document oceanographic and ecological changes in collaboration with academic and government researchers
- Develop networking and collaboration among communities and across the overlapping jurisdictions (Nunavut, Nunavik and Eeyou Marine Regions) towards providing large scale assessment of environmental changes, and critical information about environmental changes to stakeholders including communities, governments, non-profits and industry.
- Maintain engagement and collaboration through ongoing workshops and through cutting edge online technologies that provide meaningful access to results and progress on a near-real time basis, an archive of knowledge collected in the region and a forum for ongoing feedback, comments and interpretation of results by both academics and Indigenous knowledge holders. [For more information see our Interactive Knowledge Mapping Platform (IK-MAP) and upcoming SIKU projects]
Knowledge and Science
Sea Ice and
Time Lapse &
Linking Indigenous Knowledge and Science
Inuit and Cree hunters have travelled across the marine environments in Hudson Bay for generations, giving them in-depth knowledge of the sea ice habitats and wildlife ecology. A comprehensive synthesis of Indigenous knowledge collected over the last 20 years has identified key data gaps and priorities for research.
For a new project in partnership with Dr. Gita Ljubicic, Ph.D. student Megan Sheremata will be conducting interviews with Inuit hunters and elders in Nunavut and Nunavik communities to evaluate historical changes in key indicators of oceanography and sea ice that will directly link to ongoing oceanographic research.
Our new cutting-edge SIKU platform is also providing novel ways to document and link science and indigenous knowledge, using mapping, storytelling, wiki and social media technology! For more information and a preview, HERE
Sea Ice and Oceanography
One of our primary ongoing programs in collaboration with the University of Manitoba is focused on evaluating changing sea ice and oceanographic conditions across a network of monitoring sites established based on Inuit and Cree knowledge of the region. We train local hunters and youth to deploy salinity, temperature and depth (CTD) profilers and collect 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 oceanographic and ecological studies at polynyas and floe edges (click here to see an example of a real-time satellite linked oceanographic mooring).
Food security is a major priority for communities, including quality and health of wildlife resources. Community consultation meetings indicated that a study of contaminants in the marine food web was a priority, leading to a partnership between the Arctic Eider Society’s CDRN, Dr. John Chetelat of Environment Canada and the Northern Contaminants Program. Hunters collect samples of plankton, mussels, urchins, fish, eiders and seals as a part of regular subsistence activities. These samples are being analyzed for a suite of elements including mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, nickel and zinc. Sampling locations and species are documented for each community on IK-MAP (link) and results will made available to the public and stakeholders on completion.
Wildlife in Hudson Bay, including eider ducks, seals, belugas and polar bears, is increasingly being affected by changing sea ice conditions. Eiders and beluga are particularly prone to changing sea ice conditions as they can become trapped in the ice. Recent observations indicate these entrapments and resulting die-offs are occurring more frequently. 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, providing key information for wildlife co-management efforts to sustain these populations. We also conduct detailed ecological studies of wildlife at polynyas and floe edges and during wildlife entrapments events to better understand the factors affecting winter survival and ecology. To learn more about wildlife entrapment events, watch some of our footage Narrated by Sir David Attenborough featured here in Frozen Planet!! and stay tuned for updates on historical and recent entrapments coming soon to our interactive knowledge mapping platform.
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, leading to a comprehensive understanding of their diving and foraging ecology,
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.
Time Lapse & Remote 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.
In addition to producing compelling time lapse videos, computer image recognition software can be used to track changing ice conditions and wildlife abundance quantitatively. Both researchers and Inuit hunters can analyze the footage and provide their own unique interpretation of the events captured by time lapse monitoring, providing yet another novel way to integrate Indigenous and scientific approaches while engaging communities in environmental monitoring.
Check out our video “Floe” showing timelapse monitoring in action!
To date, we have captured over 100 time lapse sequences of changing sea ice conditions and wildlife habitat use at floe edges and polynyas. Many of these are already available on our
Remote Sensing and Drone Imagery
Time lapse monitoring complements remote sensing including satellite imagery, providing another scale of analysis for documenting changing conditions. Our SIKU platform will soon make a wide variety of sea ice imagery available on demand across the Arctic. More recently, we have been pioneering drone-captured imagery as a means to document changing winter sea ice ecosystems as well as possibilities for use in search and rescue operations.
Visit our Interactive Knowledge Mapping Platform to view real and near-real time results of our ongoing CDRN programs, and explore the tools, approaches, projects and sea ice ecosystems of east Hudson Bay/James Bay.