Toronto Metropolitan University
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Landscape and Hydrologic Patterns' Impact on Microbial Activity: A Comparison of Arctic Watersheds

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posted on 2023-09-01, 21:31 authored by Ross Bushnell

Water security is a significant issue facing communities of the Canadian Arctic and is a fundamental component to the health, economic development, and ecological integrity of northern communities. Local water sources are under pressure from environmental changes and anthropogenic influences and need to be understood in order to protect them. The aim of this study was to collect landscape, hydrologic, and microbial baseline data in the communities of Baker Lake, Nunavut and Pond Inlet, Nunavut watersheds in order to, (1) characterize each of the study watersheds, (2) explore the relationships between precipitation, vegetation distributions, water chemistry, and microbiological indicator total coliforms (TC), (3) guide future research and source water management, (4) create capacity for northern communities to conduct watershed research. These research goals were guided by the residents of the study communities and volunteers collaborated to achieve this research in all part of the research process. Measurements were taken at two watersheds in Baker Lake, Nunavut during the summer of 2019 and six watersheds in Pond Inlet, Nunavut in the summers of 2017 and 2018. Watersheds that had higher proportions of Wet vegetation generally had higher TC measurements during the sampling season. In addition, the results showed that major precipitation correlated with higher TC measurements, though a 3-5 day lag between the precipitation event and the TC increase was found. The lag time between the spike in TC and the rain event varied temporally and spatially. The results suggest that watershed vegetation composition, slope, and hydrologic patterns influence the lag time between the “flushing” of the landscape and the response of microbiological indicators. The results will contribute to baseline knowledge which policy makers and the community can use to establish policies to ensure the health and sustainability of northern water sources. In addition, placing a emphasis on the exchange of knowledge with northern residents will facilitate the capacity for the communities to conduct their own research in the future. This local scale research is vital for northern communities to be able to prepare for the impacts climate change and development is having on their environment. 





  • Master of Applied Science


  • Environmental Applied Science and Management

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • Thesis

Thesis Advisor

Dr. Brian Ceh



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