Thursday May 30

07:30 - 08:00 : Registration


08:00 - 08:30 : Ecological subsidies: decomposition rate of kelp transported to two contrasting sub-arctic subtidal environments


Présenté par :

Ignacio Garrido (ULAVAL)


Coauthors : Ignacio Garrido (ULAVAL), L. Miguel Pardo (UACH), Ladd E. Johnson (ULAVAL)


Drift seaweed is an important ecological subsidy in coastal environment, contributing to bottom-up regulation of the community by playing an important nutritional role for other organisms. Saccharina latissima isakelpthat dominates sheltered subtidal areas in high latitudes. During the summer of 2018, we observed considerable amounts of detached plants deposited on the bottom at depths between 5-20 m. Such algal pieces may have nutritional value similar to fresh material, but may have reduced levels of polyphenolic compounds, which deter both bacterial colonization and herbivory. However, few herbivores were observed consuming detached algae, and it appeared that the natural process of decomposition is more important. Here we report the result of an experiment designed to determine how fast the decomposition rate in detached S. latissima occurs in two contrasting environments, inside the Baie de Sept-Îles and among the more exposed islands of Sept-Îles (bay and island sites, respectively).  Litter bags with 40–50 g of fresh S. latissima were deployed at two depths (5-8 and 15-18 m) in 3 sites in each environment. Litter bags were collected from each location every month over a 3- month period. Differences in weight and the C:N ratio were measured to estimate differences in the nutritional quality and estimate the contribution of organic matter to the local system.  Degrading kelp show differences between bay and Island sites and between depth ranges, being faster in the bay regardless the depth range. Our results suggest that the environmental conditions in the Baie de Sept-Îles accelerate the decomposition rate in kelp species, contributing organic material more rapidly to the local system.


08:30 - 09:00 : Determining the environmental status of benthic ecosystems in industrial port areas in the face of multiple anthropic influences: the use of environmental indicators


Presented by:

Elliot Dreujou (UQAR)


The determination of the environmental status is an important measure in the process of ecosystem management. Many environmental indicators were created to evaluate the status of ecosystems according to the composition of benthic communities, like AMBI (Borka et al., 2000). However, these methods generally only consider one single environmental parameter at a time, and are often specific to the region studied during their development. The objective of this study was to develop environmental indicators specific to Canadian communities in industrial port areas, in the aim of determining the status of the ecosystems in the bay of Sept-Iles in the context of an accumulation of human activities.




09:00 - 09:30 : Movement onto isolated rocky ‘islands’ underwater : how much distance across a sandy bottom is necessary to reduce the number of green urchins colonizing artificial reefs?


Presented by:

Kathleen McGregor (ULAVAL)


Kelp beds or forests are highly productive areas that also provide important habitat for many species. Green urchins (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis) are voracious herbivores that, at high enough densities, can overgraze and eliminate kelp from a region. Kelp populations can persist, however, on ‘islands’ of rock surrounded by extensive sandy areas, since these expanses of sand appear to limit urchin movement. However, our recent work has shown that urchins are capable of easily crossing small sandy areas (less than a meter in extent). In order to evaluate the ability of urchins to colonize rocky ‘islands’ across larger sandy expanses, we installed twenty artificial rocky ‘islands’ at varying distances from a dense urchin population at a subtidal site off the coast of Grande Basque, one of the islands in the Sept-Îles archipelago. These artificial rocky ‘islands’ represent a gradient of accessibility, with from 2 to 20 m of sand separating them from the nearest natural rocky bottom. We monitored these structures for three months, noting the abundance of urchins and the presence and abundance of numerous other species. Urchins were clearly able to cross more than 20 m of sand and colonized all of our rocky structures. It was also clear, however, that distance and spatial variability of the surrounding environment played an important role in determining the density of urchins on rocky ‘islands’ and the abundance of other associated species. The structures nearest to the natural rocky bottom harboured the highest number of urchins, while those at 20 m had the lowest number of urchins. This project aims to provide the information necessary to better understand dynamics of colonization, urchin grazing and persistence of kelp beds on isolated rocky structures such as artificial reefs.



09:30 - 10:00 : Direct and indirect effects of water turbidity on the growth of macroalgae in Sept Iles


Presented by: 

Manon Picard (Université de Laval)


Water turbidity is a qualitative measure of living and non-living particles suspended in water. Coastal areas are subject to high turbidity values, caused in part by the proximity and connectivity to sediments and terrestrial nutrients. Turbidity can have negative direct effects on organisms present during sedimentation which can, for example, "asphyxiate" these organisms. Turbidity may also cause indirect effects by blocking light, therefore affecting organisms which depend on it, such as algae. Having an important surface area and a shallow average depth, the Bay of Sept Iles is an interesting environment to assess impacts of turbidity on algae. Indeed, algae identification surveys carried out over two years of fieldwork allowed to determine species distribution patterns that could be linked to turbidity. For example, Alaria (Alaria esculenta), a kelp species, is abundantly present along the perimeter of the islands, but has not been recorded in the bay where turbidity is lower. We therefore carried out experimental transplants in order to determine the growth potential of this species in various areas of the bay. Preliminary results suggest that turbidity contributes to reducing the growth of this species. The increase in coastal developments contributing to an increase in turbidity in coastal areas, could impact certain algae species in the region, such as Alaria.



10:00 - 10:30 : Ecological indicators at the bay scale: assessing the status of a heterogeneous system in a functional framework


Presented by: 

Filippo Ferrario (Université de Laval)


Coauthors: Filippo Ferrario (ULAVAL, Quebec Ocean, Takuvik), Ladd Johnson (ULAVAL, Quebec Ocean), Chris McKindsey (ULAVAL, MPO) Philippe Archambault (ULAVAL, Quebec Ocean, Takuvik)


Environmental management at a local scale is necessary to maintain ecosystem functioning, resilience and services. However, while several indicators have been proposed as practical tools to assess the ecological status of natural systems, some limitations persist. In particular, an explicit consideration of the ecosystem heterogeneity is typically lacking as most indicators are designed to work in homogeneous habitats (e.g. soft bottoms). These indicators are mainly based on species richness and diversity and thus do not consider, or only indirectly, the ecosystem functioning. In shallow subtidal coastal areas of the Baie de Sept-Îles (Québec, Canada), the seafloor ranges from soft to mixed bottoms (i.e. boulders and gravel in a soft-bottom matrix), creating ecosystem heterogeneity where species typical of different habitats often co-occur. Here we present a series of approaches to assess the status of the ecosystem at the scale of the bay while trying to capture the ecosystem complexity. We first present an innovative video sampling technique that provides information on both the epibenthic community and the habitat variability. We then evaluate the applicability of the Ecosystem Based Quality Index and explore the use of functional trait metrics as a way to summarize the ecological information and provide a portrait of the status of the Baie de Sept-Îles. Recognizing and valuing the local ecosystem complexity is an important step in the conservation of ecosystem services and the overall bay health.



10:30 - 11:00 : Coffee break / Exhibits




11:00 - 11:30 : Transdisciplinary research to underpin policy and regulation in the marine environment


Presented by: 

Melanie Austen (Plymouth Marine Laboratory)


Seas and coasts and the nature (‘natural capital’) that lives in them provide multiple ‘ecosystem services’ (e.g. farmed and wild capture seafood, coastal flood and storm defences, tourism, marine renewable energy, transport and climate regulation) that can be exploited or are passively used to support local and national economies and the health and well-being of coastal communities. Yet, there is an increasing demand for ocean space resulting from expanding use of the marine environment, and a growing awareness that much of the marine environment is deteriorating. In response, a need for better marine policy, such as marine planning, has grown globally to ensure sustainable use of marine space including extraction of its natural resources. Transdisciplinary research, brings together understanding of the economic, social and ecological systems can be used to support marine policy, management and future sustainable development of the blue economy. The natural capital approach exemplifies the application of transdisciplinary research to the environment. This presentation will provide examples of transdisciplinary marine research to support policy from programmes such as EU VECTORS, UKRI-GCRF Blue Communities, and UKRI-NERC SWEEP. 



11:30 - 12:00 : Automated measurements of underwater noise from shipping and port operations


Presented by: 

Scott Carr (JASCO)

Underwater noise emissions of vessels, and the effects of shipping noise on marine fauna, are topics of increasing concern. The EU has defined regulations for monitoring and limiting underwater noise from vessel traffic, and the Canadian government has committed to maintaining present levels of underwater noise in the Salish Sea, even with expected increases in traffic. Other governments are considering similar noise controls. High costs and logistical difficulties associated with obtaining noise measurements have limited the ability of ports and vessel owners to characterize and understand noise emissions of their fleets. This presentation will review the ANSI and ISO standards for vessel noise measurements. It will describe measurement systems that can be installed on approaches to ports to characterize large numbers of visiting vessels. The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority has operated this type of system to measure noise emissions of visiting vessels for over two years, with results provided free to vessel operators. Their system will be described, and examples of its noise reports and their relevance presented.



12:00 - 13:00 : Lunch break




13:00 - 13:30 : Spatio-temporal variation productivity, ecosystems function and services of eelgrass (Zostera marina) in the St. Lawrence marine systems


Presented by:

Mathieu Cusson (UCAQ)


Co-authors: Laurence Paquette (INREST), Carlos Araujo (UQAR), Julie Carrière (INREST), Zélie Schumacher (UQAR), Simon Bélanger (UQAR)


Coastal ecosystems are facing strong pressures from environmental and anthropogenic changes, which affect littoral community structure and function. We evaluate here how much the spatial and temporal extent of the Zostera marina eelgrass meadows underpins the processes that shape coastal ecosystems and show that the estimation of their function is essential in the context of ecosystems values. Using ground measures at various levels in the intertidal combined with remote sensing, we estimated the spatial variation in the biomass and growth rate of Zostera marina meadows in the Bay of Sept-Îles. The biomass in these meadows have increased 625% since 1985. Basic characteristics of the Zostera bed were measured (biomass, density, etc.) and indices of growth were estimated during the maximum growth season (August). The biomass (above- and below- ground) and growth rates largely differed in function of the position in the intertidal and across sites with differences more than 3-fold in some areas. We will discuss the spatial variability and the temporal evolution of these variables and their value for the ecosystem services.




13:30 - 14:00 : Hydrodynamics in the bay of Sept-Îles


Presented by:

Jean-Luc Shaw (UQAR)


As part of the Canadian Healthy Oceans Network (CHONe) and in collaboration with the Institut Nordique de Recherche en Environnement et en Santé au Travail (INREST), surveys were carried out in the Bay of Sept-Iles (BSI), aimed at quantifying the hydrodynamic variability at both tidal and seasonal scales. On 5 occasions from May to September 2017, CTD profiles were recorded at 21 marine stations. Drifting buoys fitted with GPS trackers recorded 560 hours worth of data. During a semi-diurnal tide cycle (12.25h), repeated transects were conducted with ADCP, along with CTD profiles during 1 out of 3 transects. Seasonal disruptions of mean stratification were quantified. A map of residual currents was produced thanks to an average of the buoys’ speedometers. A reconstruction of the hydrological and current conditions in a section of the mouth of the river was established. The stratification in the BSI was closely linked to stratification in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. Several mid-scale current traits were identified, including the presence of a surface whirlpool; a current leading offshore along Pointe-a-la-Marmite; the separation between surface currents and bottom currents, as well as certain river water pathways. A preliminary estimation of the water residence time in the bay was calculated at 31.7 days.



14:00 - 14:30 : Kelp colonisation of artificial reefs: patterns and possibilities


Presented by:

Ladd Johnson (ULAVAL)


Kelp forests create habitat for fish and invertebrates, serve as nurseries for others, and increase productivity not only locally but also for adjacent and distant areas. They are therefore important for maintaining the biodiversity and health of coastal ecosystems, but their distribution in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is very limited because of the destructive grazing of green sea urchins (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis). The use of artificial reefs (the installation of hard substrata in sand habitats) often has the goal of creating kelp forests as a form of environmental compensation. However, the importance of the reef design and installation techniques have not been well studied. In 2014, an artificial reef was created in the Baie de Sept Îles. It has been a clear success, with a flourishing population of Laminaria saccharina documented during the first inventory in 2016. We conducted a follow-up survey of this artificial reef in 2018, four years after its initial installation. Our inventory confirmed the continued success of this project by finding significant development of kelp on reef structures regardless of whether the individual structures were "seeded" at the beginning of the project. By comparing our results with those of the previous inventory, we also found that there has been colonisation of another, less productive kelp (Agarum cribosum) as well as an increase in the sea urchin population on the structures. In addition, we documented very interesting fine-scale colonization patterns of L. saccharina on the blocks; in particular, individual plants were concentrated mainly on the corners of structures with very few individuals on smooth surfaces. A knowledge of these patterns of colonization and succession on artificial reefs will be essential for a better understanding of the processes that control the success and sustainability of interventions involving artificial reefs.




14:30 - 15:00 : Light and Primary Producers Dynamics in a Subarctic Coastal Embayment: A Satellite-based Assessment: Preliminary results


Presented by:

Carlos Araújo (UQAR)


Coauthors: Carlos Araújo, Simon Bélanger, Jean-Éric Tremblay and Mathieu Cusson 


The presentation will focus on the preliminary results of the panelist PhD project, which primary goal is to understand how the light interacts with primary producers in a subarctic coastal embayment and surrounding area. A comprehensive in situ biogeochemical and optical (bio-optical) data collected during intensive fieldwork campaigns on 2017 and a suite of remotely sensed imagery will be used to achieve this goal. The preliminary results will include the spatial and temporal variability of bio-optical properties as well as the seagrass coverage in the Bay of Sept-Îles. While the first will make usage of the in situ data, the seagrass coverage is a result from image analysis of Landsat heritage sensors (1984-2017). The potential of using remote sensing tools for coastal monitoring, as developed in the scope of this thesis, will be explored.




15:00 - 15:45 : From River to Stage


Presented by: 

Geneviève Dupéré (UQAM)


"From River to stage” presents écH2osystème, a documentary-type performing arts project. The title refers to the marine ecosystem of the St. Lawrence, to the richness of its waters, and how it echoes in our society. It seeks to punctuate the relationship between the River and the spectator. Through a narrative intended for the general public, the idea behind this theatrical and acrobatic performance showcases scientific research, maritime challenges, and innovative projects happening in from the River to the Gulf. 

The contents of the narrative emerges from encounters with various collaborators who work in the St. Lawrence, in marine and freshwater sciences, as well as in fisheries, shipping, navigation, diving and the port industry. Thus far, over 70 collaborators from various research groups, guilds, ministries, institues or generational traditions have contributed to the main thread of this project by sharing their knowledge and experience. Once the content is defined, the narrative will be transposed on stage, which will allow to feature the complex dynamic of the St. Lawrence through a theatrical and acrobatic performance. This research-creation is theorized in a doctoral context, which explores the mediating value of such an undertaking, going from a natural ecosystem which we are all a part of, unfolding through a collaborative and interdisciplinary process, from River to stage.




15:45 - 16:15 : Closing ceremony and student grants awards




18:00 - 22:00 : Closing dinner


A way to say goodbye to your newly-made connections and to celebrate the conference's first run.


Location: TBC

Price: $50




19:00 : Rhapsody, the show (non-CIRSIP) 


The Institut nordique de recherche en environnement et en santé au travail (INREST) presents Yvan Pedneault's show : Rhapsody – Queen's Greatest Hits, outside of the CIRSIP congress on May 30, 2019, as a fundraiser for INREST's research fund.

All are welcome to come see this Sept-Îles native perform the mythical band's greatest hits. Guy Porlier's singing group will open the show, featuring young talents from Sept-Îles.


Location: Salle Jean-Marc Dion

Time: 19:30

Price: 35$ (basic rate) or 50$ (bonified rate that includes a donation to INREST's research fund)