MTRI is a non-profit co-operative with a mandate to promote sustainable use of natural resources and biodiversity conservation in the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve and beyond through research, education, and the operation of a field station.
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Aquatic connectivity refers to the network created by streams, rivers and lakes as they flow into one another. The quality of this connectivity network within freshwater ecosystems has been identified as being very important for the success of aquatic species such as Brook Trout and other fish species. Increasingly, pressure is being placed on these networks in the form of barriers to fish passage. Dams, culverts, and other modifications to the natural stream bed harm the ability of fish to migrate up and down streams in search of habitat suitable for spawning, feeding, overwintering, and summer refugia. As access to the stream network decreases, so does the stream's ability to support healthy, abundant fish populations, making fragmentation a significant threat to the integrity of freshwater ecosystems throughout Southwest Nova Scotia and beyond. To help correct this problem, crossings on fish bearing streams are being identified in and around Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site, and prioritized for remediation.
In the summer of 2009, a full inventory of stream crossings within Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site was completed. To complement this work, MTRI has begun surveying stream crossings within catchments which transcend park boundaries. Once identified, barriers to fish passage will be prioritized for remediation based on fish habitat suitability and impact on stream network connectivity.
With a thorough knowledge of barriers to fish passage throughout the upper Mersey watershed, we can then model how closely stream connectivity within Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site, and the upper Mersey watershed, resembles that of natural conditions, and whether connectivity is worsening or improving over time.
By hosting workshops and sharing resources with partners throughout Nova Scotia, the benefits of improved steam network connectivity will spread throughout the province and beyond, helping fish populations thrive for generations to come.
MTRI, with the support of the NSLC Adopt-A-Stream program, Parks Canada and the Nova Scotia Salmon Association, has established a demonstration site to showcase an inexpensive way to aid and improve fish passage through road culverts.
The culvert has been refitted with an energy dissipation pool at the outflow. This will help minimize erosion of the pool bottom by water as it flows out of the culvert. A pool like this will help make sure that an outflow drop does not form at the culvert outflow, creating a barrier to fish passage. The site is located on the Corkum road in Kempt, Queen's county, Nova Scotia.