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Lakeland County AB
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A review and assessment of existing information for key wildlife and fish species in the Regional Sustainable Development Strategy study area. Volume 1: Wildlife


Year: 2002

Abstract:
This report summarizes the life history and habitat requirements, distribution and population characteristics (e.g., size and trends) of key wildlife species and communities in the Regional Sustainable Development Strategy (RSDS) study area of northeastern Alberta. A summary of information on key fish species is presented in Volume 2 of this report. Key wildlife included 7 priority #1 species/communities (woodland caribou, moose, muskrat, fisher/small mammal, lynx/snowshoe hare, old growth forest bird community, and Canadian toad) and 8 priority #2 species/communities (black bear, beaver, river otter, ruffed grouse, pileated woodpecker, boreal owl, mixedwood forest bird community, and ducks and geese). Key fish included 2 priority #1 species (northern pike and walleye) and 4 priority #2 species (lake whitefish, Arctic grayling, longnose sucker, and burbot). The information presented in this report is organized into detailed species and community accounts. Data was compiled from numerous sources, including government, industry, university and private/ non-profit organizations. Over 300 published and unpublished reports were reviewed to assimilate the information presented in this report. Habitat/life history requirements for each wildlife species were summarized as general living, foraging, reproducing, protective/thermal cover and migrating/ moving habitat requirements. Habitat elements that characterize moderate-high suitability habitats were also identified based on the results of existing habitat suitability index (HSI) models. Population sizes and trends, as well as the natural variability in population size, were reported where possible. Limited information was available on the population dynamics of most species. Information on population trends was augmented by a discussion of habitat trends within the oil sands area using the results of Cumulative Effects Assessments for various oil sands development projects. Data collected from oil sands projects, as well as other sources, on species sightings/ occurrences and important habitat areas were mapped using GIS. Finally, information gaps pertaining to habitat use, habitat requirements, and population characteristics for each key species/ community were identified.

Assessing accumulation and biliary excretion of naphthenic acids in yellow perch exposed to oil sands-affected waters


Year: 2014

Abstract:
Naphthenic acids are known to be the most prevalent group of organic compounds in oil sands tailings-associated waters. Yellow perch (Perca flavescens) were exposed for four months to oil sands-influenced waters in two experimental systems located on an oil sands lease 30 km north of Fort McMurray Alberta: the Demonstration Pond, containing oil sands tailings capped with natural surface water, and the South Bison Pond, integrating lean oil sands. Yellow perch were also sampled from three lakes: Mildred Lake that receives water from the Athabasca River, Sucker Lake, at the edge of oil sands extraction activity, and Kimowin Lake, a distant reference site. Naphthenic acids were measured in perch muscle tissue using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS). Bile metabolites were measured by GC–MS techniques and by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with fluorescence detection at phenanthrene wavelengths. A method was developed using liquid chromatography–high resolution mass spectrometry (LC–HRMS) to evaluate naphthenic acids in bile. Tissue analysis did not show a pattern of naphthenic acids accumulation in muscle tissue consistent with known concentrations in exposed waters. Bile fluorescence and LC–HRMS methods were capable of statistically distinguishing samples originating from oil sands-influenced waters versus reference lakes. Although the GC–MS and HPLC fluorescence methods were correlated, there were no significant correlations of these methods and the LC–HRMS method. In yellow perch, naphthenic acids from oil sands sources do not concentrate in tissue at a measurable amount and are excreted through a biliary route. LC–HRMS was shown to be a highly sensitive, selective and promising technique as an indicator of exposure of biota to oil sands-derived naphthenic acids.

Assessment of trophic position and food sources using stable isotopes of sulphur, carbon, and nitrogen, Peace and Athabasca Rivers, 1992 and 1993


Year: 1996

Abstract:
Describes a study of the stable isotope composition of sulphur, carbon, and nitrogen in the tissues of fish from two locations in the Athabasca River and two on the Peace River. Fish species analysed included burbot, walleye, mountain whitefish, northern pike, goldeye, longnose sucker, and lake chub. A set of samples consisting of biofilm, invertebrates, and fish from the upper Athabasca was also analysed. The purpose of the study was to extend the data base on feeding and movement of fish which could be derived from the carbon and sulphur isotope data, and to use the nitrogen isotope data to define the trophic positions of the organisms. Isotope analyses of water samples established the isotope signals of the source of organic matter produced in or carried into the Athabasca by its tributaries so that the dependence of the food chain on those sources could be assessed

Baseline study of the water quality and aquatic resources of the MacKay River, Alberta


Year: 1978

Abstract:
Syncrude Canada Ltd. is producing synthetic crude oil from a surface mine on the eastern portion of Crown Lease 17, Alberta. Aquatic Environments Limited was commissioned to survey the MacKay River which crosses Leases 17 and 22, also held by Syncrude. The survey is intended to provide a baseline, as Syncrude's present operations do not affect the MacKay watershed. The pattern of discharge in the MacKay River in 1977 was characterized by three peaks, two major (April 19 and July 8) and one minor (October 16). Peak discharge for the year was 22.5 m3/sec and the low 0.2 m3/sec. Mean discharge was 4.2 m3/sec per day and total discharge was 176.6 x 106 m3. The densities of periphyton were highest on natural substrates than on either artificial substrate. In general, the densities were low throughout the summer but increased in September. At some locations, however, densities on glass substrates were highest in July. A total of 80 benthic macroinvertebrate taxa was collected, with 59 taxa found at the Upper Station, 56 at the Middle Station, and 49 at the Lower Station. In total, 19 fish species were collected from the MacKay River. The common or abundant species are: goldeye, northern pike, lake chub, longnose dace, longnose sucker, white sucker, trout-perch, walleye, and slimy sculpin.

Concentrations of metallothionein in fish Peace Athabasca and Slave River basins September to December 1994


Year: 1996

Abstract:
Fish from Peace, Athabasca and Slave rivers and their tributaries are exposed to a variety of pulp mill, municipal and industrial effluents (EnviResource 1995; Brown and Vandenbyllaardt, 1996). Assessments of effects of contaminants have focussed on chlorinated organic compounds, such as dioxins and furans (Pastershank and Muir, 1995), and on alterations of parameters affecting reproduction physiology in individual fish (Brown et al., 1993; Brown et al., 1996; Lockhart et al., 1996). These studies have demonstrated that there is exposure to organic contaminants because mixed function oxidase activities are elevated (Lockhart, et al., 1996; Lockhart and Metner, 1996); and that fish collected downstream from the pulp mills may be stressed, because they exhibit a high percentage of sexually immature individuals, and they have depressed circulating concentrations of gonadal steroid hormones (Brown et al., 1993; Brown et al., 1996). The purpose of the research described in this report was to initiate studies to see if metals may be contibuting to these stresses. The objective was to evaluate whether the metal-binding protein, metallothionein, was elevated in organs of burbot, longnose sucker, northern pike or flathead chub collected downstream from pulp mills and other effluent discharge points, and whether there was evidence of cumulative impacts with progression downstream in these rivers. An increase in MT concentrations in fish represents a molecular response that generally indicates exposure and development of resistance to toxicity to metals, especially Cd, Cu, Hg and Zn (Klaverkamp et al. 1991; Roesijadi, 1992). The study was designed by the Northern River Basins Study Science Directors and the Contaminants Component Leader, and was based on selecting fish collection sites on their proximity to discharges from pulp mills. Additional information on fish collection sites and on general biological parameters of fish collected in 1994 is presented in other reports (EnviResource 1995; Brown et al. 1996). Two observations were made, both in burbot, which may indicate exposure to elevated metal concentrations and the presence of cumulative impacts. First, the greatest difference in MT concentrations between collection sites was observed in kidney of burbot collected in the Slave River Delta (SRD) of Great Slave lake. MT concentrations in kidneys from these fish ranged from approximately 7-times to 26-times higher than those concentrations found in kidneys of burbot from other collection sites. MT concentrations in gill of burbot from SRD were also the highest observed. The SRD burbot may be exposed to metals due to natural conditions of high mineralization in the Great Slave Lake Delta or other parts of the lake; or these fish may be exposed to metals discharged by mining operations, such as the decommissioned lead-zinc mine at Pine Point. The counterclockwise current in this portion of the lake could transport metals from a western source, such as Pine Point, to the Slave Delta (English, 1984). Second, a progressive increase in MT concentration in proceeding from upstream fish collection sites to downstream sites was observed in concentrations of MT in burbot liver. In the Peace River and associated tributaries (Little Smoky, Smoky, and Wapiti), there is a progressive increase of up to 3.34-fold in burbot liver [MT] moving from upstream to downstream collection sites. In the upper Athabasca River system, there is a progressive increase of up to 2.33-fold in burbot liver [MT] moving from upstream to downstream collection sites.

Contaminants in environmental samples: Mercury in the Peace Athabasca and Slave River basins


Year: 1996

Abstract:
This report summarizes and describes environmental levels of mercury in water, sediment, invertebrates, and fish from the Athabasca, Peace, and Slave river basins. Data were obtained from existing provincial and federal databases, the Northern Rivers Basins Study, and from government and private sector reports and publications. Mercury has been measured in several hundred water samples from the Basins. Mercury was detected in only a few of these samples. However, appropriate field and laboratory protocols to sample mercury in water were not used in the past; thus most detections of this element in water may not be reliable. It is noteworthy however, that because of high detection limits (0.05 to 0.1 pg/kg) mercury was not detected in most municipal effluents, and only occasionally in industrial effluents. Mercury is ubiquitous to all soils and sediments of the earth, and it is not surprising that it was found in sediment samples from the Basins at levels that range from 27 to 123 pg/kg (dry weight). Levels of mercury found in sediments were well below the current draft interim sediment guideline for mercury that was developed to protect aquatic life. The guideline is 170 pg/kg mercury (dry weight). There was no obvious increase in mercury in sediments downstream of industrial effluents compared with sediment at upstream sites. Sediment cores from Lake Athabasca indicate that mercury levels have not increased over at the past 50 years or more, and they also suggest that the Athabasca River basin is the principal source of mercury to Lake Athabasca. Mercury was not detected (< 20 pg/kg) in nine invertebrate samples collected from the Athabasca River in the Hinton to Whitecourt reach (km 1244 to 1067). However, in 1983 in the reach from km 270 to 258 that spans the Suncor operation, mercury increased in aquatic invertebrates in the downstream direction, from 70 to 1400 pg/kg. This significant increase, and the unusually high level in aquatic invertebrates, suggests that the Suncor operation in the early 1980s was a significant source of mercury to the lower Athabasca River. However, mercury levels in a single sample of invertebrates from 1994 for this same reach suggests that the Suncor operation is no longer a major source of mercury. Mercury was detected in all fish of every species taken from all lakes and rivers. In general, mercury levels in the Basins were highest in predatory fish species such as pike, walleye, burbot, and bull trout and the maximum levels were found in large specimens of these species. For the Athabasca River basin, the decreasing order for concentration of mercury in fish was walleye > goldeye > northern pike > longnose sucker > mountain whitefish. Because of high levels of mercury, consumption guidelines have been established for walleye and pike from two lakes in the Athabasca River basin, and for walleye caught from the Athabasca River. Consumption guidelines are reported by Alberta Environmental Protection in their "Annual Guide To Sport Fishing". In the reach of the Athabasca River from the town of Athabasca(km700)to the southern boundary of Wood Buffalo National Park(km 127),25%of all walleye had mercury concentrations that exceeded the Health Canada limit of 500 pg/kg. Detailed studies are required to determine the relative contribution ofnatural and industrial sources to the mercury It is recommended that: 1. Mercury concentration in walleye from Lake Athabasca and at sites along the lower Athabasca River downstream from the town of Athabasca be measured at regular intervals, perhaps every two years. 2. A detailed study be conducted in the lower Athabasca River to evaluate and to identify mechanisms and pathways o f mercury uptake by aquatic biota. The tarsands, an organic rich substrate, forms a significant part of the banks of the Athabasca River and its tributaries in this reach. Tarsands may enhance mercury uptake into the food web. An evaluation of the contribution ofthe waste-water effluent from town ofFort McMurry and the contribution of the Suncor operation to mercury loading in the lower Athabasca River should be part of this study

Contributions of Cree knowledge: naketehtamasoyahk ote nekan nitaskenan (caring for the land for the future)


Author(s): Geertsema, K. A.

Year: 2008

Abstract:
Aboriginal peoples in many parts of the world have developed ways of monitoring, amassing information, understanding and making associations about the local ecosystems they depend upon for subsistence resources. Appropriately, using their Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), and ecosystem monitoring expertise may facilitate sustainable ecological systems. Systematic ecosystem monitoring is incidental to the sustainability of local ecosystem integrity and health. In areas disturbed by significant industrial, land and resource development, the capacity to "monitor" changing ecosystem conditions is crucial. This research demonstrates how five Aboriginal (Cree) communities in northern Alberta, Canada incorporate "systematic" ecosystem monitoring elements to assess local ecosystem condition and changes. The systematic ecosystem monitoring elements are described, including the use of "cultural keystone species" as condition indicators, the diagnostic measures used, the temporal and spatial elements, and how Cree Land Based Experts interpret and make associations about the health of fish, wildlife, plants, landscape habitat, water and air. This research reports on the observations of populations and condition of a number of cultural keystone species, hydrological yield and quality, and critical wildlife habitat affected by the cumulative effects of forestry, oil and gas, and a contaminant treatment facility development in the study area. The work also discusses the implications and ramifications to local Cree people to these changing ecological conditions. Finally, this research suggests how local Aboriginal peoples, their Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), and their ecosystem monitoring expertise, can be of applied use within ecosystem management, and cumulative effects frameworks.

Effects of oil sands related aquatic reclamation on yellow perch (Perca flavescens). II. Chemical and biochemical indicators of exposure to oil sands related waters


Year: 1999

Abstract:
Adult yellow perch (Perca flavescens) were stocked into experimental ponds designed to emulate possible aquatic reclamation alternatives of the oil sands mining industry. After 5 and 11 months, mixed-function oxygenase (MFO) activity, liver conjugation enzymes, bile polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) equivalents, and plasma sex steroids were measured. Liver MFO activity and bile PAH equivalent concentration were closely correlated and showed the highest levels in the experimental ponds but also demonstrated a gradient of exposure among reference locations. Levels of steroid hormones in fall-captured fish did not show major differences among sites. However, during winter, yellow perch from three sites, including the experimental ponds, showed low levels of sex steroids in both males and females. Multivariate regressions showed no relationship between steroid hormone concentrations and gonad size or fecundity. Similarly, steroid hormones did not parallel the gradient of exposure as measured by MFO and bile PAH metabolites. Gonad size and fecundity also were not directly correlated with the gradient of exposure observed in this study. Although MFO activity and bile PAH equivalents were good indicators of exposure to oil sands related waters, they were not predictive of physiological endpoints, suggesting that the latter were influenced primarily by ecological and not by chemical factors.

Environmental contaminants in fish: Spatial and temporal trends of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans Peace Athabasca and Slave River basins 1992 to 1994


Year: 1997

Abstract:
As part of the work to examine the impact of development on ecosystem health and integrity on the Peace and Athabasca river basins in Alberta, the Northern River Basin Study (NRBS) was required to determine “the contents and nature of the contaminants entering the system ... particular reference to water, sediments and biota" and to determine “... the current concentration of contaminants in water and edible fish tissue and how are these levels changing through time and by location". The Reach Specific Study (RSS) was designed to measure spatial and temporal trends of contaminants including polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and -dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs) in sediment, water and and biota (fish and invertebrate) samples collected at six locations on the upper Athabasca River downstream of Hinton (AB) in spring 1992, fall 1992 and spring 1993. The General Fish Collection (spring 1992), the Long nose sucker and Northern pike liver study (fall 1994) and the Special Burbot Collection (fall 1992 and 1994), and the Ft. Chipewyan winter fishery study (1994/95) were also conducted to examine levels in fish tissues within the Athabasca, Peace and Slave River basins. The purpose of this report is to summarize the levels of PCDDs and PCDFs in fish from these various studies and to assess temporal trends of 2,3,7,8-TCDD and 2,3,7,8-TCDF by comparison with previously published data. A second objective was to reexamine pathways of accumulation of 2,3,7,8-TCDD and 2,3,7,8-TCDF from water and suspended sediment to fish, first measured in the upper Athabasca River in 1992 (Pastershank and Muir 1995). The major PCDD/F congeners in muscle (skinless fillet) of mountain whitefish and northern pike samples collected in the upper Athabasca River downstream of Hinton in fall 1992 and spring 1993 were 2,3,7,8-TCDD and -TCDF. Mean concentrations of 2,3,7,8-TCDD in mountain whitefish ranged 0.6 to 7.7 pg-g'1wet wt and from 1.7 to 9.8 pg-g"1for 2,3,7,8-TCDF. Concentrations of other 2,3,7,8- substituted penta- to octachloro- PCDD/F congeners were generally much lower or non-detectable in both species. Two lower chlorinated congeners, 2,7/2,8-dichlorodibenzodioxin and 2,3,8- trichlorodibenzofuran were detected in most samples ofmountain whitefish from fall 1992 at low pg-g'1 concentrations. TCDF was the most frequently detected PCDD/F congener in longnose sucker and northern pike livers collected from the Wapiti/Smoky and Peace Rivers in fall 1994. TCDF concentrations in liver were in the low pg-g'1range similar to levels in muscle of these species. Highest concentrations of TCDF in livers of longnose sucker (9.2 ± 17.8 pg-g"1) were found at a site on the Smoky River (SRI) downstream of the pulp mill effluent near Grande Prairie. Temporal trends in 2,3,7,8-TCDD and -TCDF in mountain whitefish were examined over a four year period by combining the three sampling times in the upper Athabasca River with data from previous studies (DFO National Dioxin Program 1989). There was a definite decline in 2,3,7,8-TCDD and - TCDF concentrations in mountain whitefish downstream of the Hinton but most of the decrease took place in the period 1989 to 1992. The extent of the decline depends to a large extent on which results for spring 1993 are used. If samples from the near-field sites of Weldwood and Obed (mean concentrations of 1.1 and 2.6 pg-g"1wet, for TCDD and TCDF respectively) are used the decline is about five-fold for both TCDD and TCDF over four years. But if the fish from Emerson Lake (48 km downstream) are included (mean concentrations are 3.6 and 7.1 pg-g"1wet, for TCDD and TCDF, respectively) the decline is about 3-fold. In general, concentrations of PCDD/Fs were higher in burbot liver than in muscle or liver of mountain whitefish or northern pike and a greater number of congeners were detected. TCDF was detected i (mean concentrations, 0.30 to 65 pg-g'1) in 86% o f all 203 burbot liver samples analysed, while 2,3,7,8- TCDD was detected in 35% of samples (mean concentrations, <0.3 to 8.5 pg-g'1). Two other 2,3,7,8- substituted- PCDD/F congeners, 1,2,3,6,7,8-HxCDD and the heptachlorodioxin, 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-HpCDD were detected in 37% o f burbot liver samples. OCDD was also detected relatively frequently (17%) while OCDF was found in only 3 of 203 samples. Di and trichloro-CDDs and CDFs were detected infrequently in burbot liver and at low levels relative to tetra- to octachloro congeners. Significantly higher levels (ANCOVA; Tukey’s or least squares means test) of TCDD and TCDF were found in burbot liver downstream of the Hinton BKM than at all other sites. Levels of 2,3,7,8-TCDD and -TCDF in burbot liver were lower in the. fall 1994 collection than in fall 1992 at four sites; downstream of the Grande Prairie pulp mill outlet, PR2 on the Peace River near the mouth ofthe Notikewin River (674 km from confluence ofthe Peace/Slave), and PR3 upstream ofFort Vermillion (396 km). Comparison of concentrations in burbot liver near the BKM at Grande Prairie was problematic because sampling sites were not in the same locations each year. Nevertheless, the results show a decline of 4 to 17-times in the case of 2,3,7,8-TCDF at three sites. No significant decline of TCDD or TCDF concentrations was found in burbot livers from PR2. The burbot liver results, expressed as TCDD TEQ’s, also agreed well with those of Swansonet ak (1995) who found a 5-fold decline in TEQs downstream of the Grande Prairie BKM between summer 1991 and spring 1994. Concentrations of all 2,3,7,8-substituted PCDD/F congeners in composite samples of fish muscle from the Ft. Chipewyan domestic winter fishery in the Peace-Athabasca delta were at or near detection limits (<0.1 to <0.8 pg-g'1). Only 2,3,7,8-TCDF was detectable in most samples (<0.1 to 0.5 pg-g'1). Burbot liver samples from the three sites in the Peace-Athabasca delta had higher levels o f 2,3,7,8-TCDF than burbot muscle (1.7 to 2.9 pg-g'1). These levels were similar to those at other far-field and reference sites located far from BKMs. The bioavailability of TCDD and TCDF to mountain whitefish and northern pike was assessed using biota-sediment (or suspended sediment) accumulation factors (BSAF/BSSAFs). BSAFs for 2,3,7,8- TCDD ranged from 1.1 to 2.0 and for TCDF from 0.19 to 1.63 in mountain whitefish in spring 1992. A similar range of BSAFs was found in 1993. BSSAFs for both 2,3,7,8-TCDD and TCDF were generally lower and showed greater consistency than BSAFs with distance from the BKM. The results suggest that TCDD/TCDF levels in fish can be estimated with an average, site specific, BSAF or BSSAF using concentrations of TCDD/F in bed sediment or suspended sediments. Application of the Thomann and Connolly food chain model (steady-state version) to predict levels of TCDF in the food web downstream of Hinton showed that good agreement between predicted and observed results could be obtained for benthic feeding organisms (and longnose suckers and pike) which were close to equilibrium with sediments or biofilm. The model overpredicted concentrations in filter-feeding invertebrates and mountain whitefish; these organisms are not in equilibrium with TCDF in the water and suspended solids in the river due to the dynamic nature ofthe system. All mean concentrations of TCDD TEQs in fish muscle or liver were below the limit of 20 pg-g'1(wet wt) set by Health Canada for commercial sale and export of fish. A few individual samples, mainly burbot liver from the Athabasca River downstream of Hinton, exceeded the 20 pg-g'1guideline. Assuming TCDD TEQs of 8.3 pg-g'1in mountain whitefish downstream of Hinton a 60 kg individual would have to consume 72 g of mountain whitefish muscle per day to exceed the Health Canada

Estimating naphthenic acids concentrations in laboratory-exposed fish and in fish from the wild


Year: 2008

Abstract:
Naphthenic acids (NAs) are the most water-soluble organic components found in the Athabasca oil sands in Alberta, Canada, and these acids are released into aqueous tailing waters as a result of bitumen extraction. Although the toxicity of NAs to fish is well known, there has been no method available to estimate NAs concentrations in fish. This paper describes a newly developed analytical method using single ion monitoring gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS) to measure NAs in fish, down to concentrations of ∼0.1 mg kg−1 of fish flesh. This method was used to measure the uptake and depuration of commercial NAs in laboratory experiments. Exposure of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) to 3 mg NAs l−1 for 9 d gave a bioconcentration factor of ∼2 at pH 8.2. Within 1 d after the fish were transferred to NAs-free water, about 95% of the NAs were depurated. In addition, the analytical method was used to determine if NAs were present in four species of wild fish – northern pike (Esox lucius), lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis), white sucker (Catostomus commersoni), walleye (Sander vitreus) – collected from near the oil sands. Flesh samples from 23 wild fish were analyzed, and 18 of these had no detectable NAs. Four fish (one of each species) contained NAs at concentrations from 0.2 to 2.8 mg kg−1. The GC–MS results from one wild fish presented a unique problem. However, with additional work it was concluded that the NAs concentration in this fish was <0.1 mg kg−1.

Fall fisheries investigation in the Athabasca and Clearwater rivers upstream of Fort McMurray Vol I


Year: 1978

Abstract:
Fisheries investigations were undertaken in the Athabasca and Clearwater rivers upstream of Fort McMurray in the fall of 1977. The major emphasis of these studies was to delineate actual and potential spawning areas for lake whitefish in the Athabasca and Clearwater rivers. Lake whitefish were found to spawn during mid-October in the mainstem of the Athabasca River from Fort McMurray upstream to Cascade Rapids, a distance of approximately 32 km. The major concentrations of spawning lake whitefish were immediately below Mountain Rapids (24 km upstream of Fort McMurray). There was no evidence of lake whitefish spawning in the Clearwater River. Spawning generally occurred in fast water over broken rock, rubble, and coarse gravel substrates. While recaptures were insufficient to calculate a population estimate by scientific means, the spawning population is large, certainly numbering tens of thousands of fish. Post-spawning tag returns indicate that the lake whitefish spawners moved downstream immediately after spawning, returning to the Peace-Athabasca Delta. The Athabasca River upstream of Fort McMurray provides critical spawning habitat for lake whitefish. Other important fish species, including goldeye, longnose sucker, walleye, and northern pike, also occur in the project study area.

Fall fisheries investigations in the Athabasca and Clearwater Rivers upstream of Fort McMurray. Vol I. Results, discussions and conclusions


Year: 1978

Abstract:
Fisheries investigations were undertaken in the Athabasca and Clearwater rivers upstream of Fort McMurray in the fall of 1977. The major emphasis of these studies was to delineate actual and potential spawning areas for lake whitefish in the Athabasca and Clearwater rivers. Lake whitefish were found to spawn during mid-October in the mainstem of the Athabasca River from Fort McMurray upstream to Cascade Rapids, a distance of approximately 32 km. The major concentrations of spawning lake whitefish were immediately below Mountain Rapids (24 km upstream of Fort McMurray). There was no evidence of lake whitefish spawning in the Clearwater River. Spawning generally occurred in fast water over broken rock, rubble, and coarse gravel substrates. While recaptures were insufficient to calculate a population estimate by scientific means, the spawning population is large, certainly numbering tens of thousands of fish. Post-spawning tag returns indicate that the lake whitefish spawners moved downstream immediately after spawning, returning to the Peace-Athabasca Delta. The Athabasca River upstream of Fort McMurray provides critical spawning habitat for lake whitefish. Other important fish species, including goldeye, longnose sucker, walleye, and northern pike, also occur in the project study area.

Fall fisheries investigations in the Athabasca and Clearwater Rivers upstream of Fort McMurray: Volume I


Year: 1978

Abstract:
Fisheries investigations were undertaken in the Athabasca and Clearwater rivers upstream of Fort McMurray in the fall of 1977. The major emphasis of these studies was to delineate actual and potential spawning areas for lake whitefish in the Athabasca and Clearwater rivers. Lake whitefish were found to spawn during mid-October in the mainstem of the Athabasca River from Fort McMurray upstream to Cascade Rapids, a distance of approximately 32 km. The major concentrations of spawning lake whitefish were immediately below Mountain Rapids (24 km upstream of Fort McMurray). There was no evidence of lake whitefish spawning in the Clearwater River. Spawning generally occurred in fast water over broken rock, rubble, and coarse gravel substrates. While recaptures were insufficient to calculate a population estimate by scientific means, the spawning population is large, certainly numbering tens of thousands of fish. Post-spawning tag returns indicate that the lake whitefish spawners moved downstream immediately after spawning, returning to the Peace-Athabasca Delta. The Athabasca River upstream of Fort McMurray provides critical spawning habitat for lake whitefish. Other important fish species, including goldeye, longnose sucker, walleye, and northern pike, also occur in the project study area.

Fisheries survey of the Beaver Creek Diversion System, 1978


Author(s): O'Neil, J. P.

Year: 1979

Abstract:
On three occasions during the period May-October, 1978, R.L.& L. Environmental Services Ltd. conducted fish sampling in the Beaver Creek Diversion System. These efforts were oriented towards providing an inventory of postdiversion fish populations. The study was designed not only to update the existing data base, but to provide quantified and reproducible catch/unit effort data (CUE) which could effectively serve as a basis for future monitoring of fish populations. Sampling gear employed in the study included gill nets, beach seine, and back-pack electrofisher. While a total of 11 species were encountered in the study area, only 6 were recorded in the upper diversion system (i.e., upstream of the Poplar Creek dam). Included in this latter group were two species of catostomids (white sucker, longnose sucker), the fathead minnow, brook stickleback, lake chub and spoonhead sculpin (Upper Beaver Creek only). Species collected in Poplar Creek, additional to those recorded in the upper diversion system, were Arctic grayling, northern pike, yellow perch, burbot and troutperch. The spoonhead sculpin was not collected in Poplar Creek. Pertinent life history information was collected for each of the species in the study area and subsequently analysed by computer. This material is provided in a separate data volume. Because of the significance of the white sucker in the diversion system, life history data for this species are presented in this report.

Investigations of the spring spawning fish populations in the Athabasca and Clearwater Rivers upstream from Fort McMurray: Volume I


Author(s): Tripp, D. B., & McCart P. J.

Year: 1979

Abstract:
Fisheries investigations were undertaken in the spring of 1978 (28 April to 25 June) in the Athabasca and Clearwater rivers upstream of Fort McMurray. The major objectives of the studies were to determine what spring spawners utilized these sections of the Athabasca and Clearwater rivers; to locate and describe their spawning grounds; and to describe the timing of spawning, hatching, and emergence in relation to environmental factors such as water temperature, turbidity, dissolved oxygen concentrations, and stream flow. Large numbers of longnose suckers spawned during mid May in the Athabasca River from Fort McMurray upstream to the Cascade Rapids, the same area used by fall spawning lake whitefish. The major concentrations were located just below the Mountain and Cascade rapids. There was no evidence of major spawning concentrations of this species elsewhere in the present study area. Shortly after spawning, longnose suckers left the project study area and presumably returned to the Peace-Athabasca Delta. Northern pike and burbot spawning and rearing areas were identified in the Clearwater River upstream of its junction with the Christina River. There was little or no spawning by either species in the Clearwater River downstream of the Christina River or in the Athabasca River upstream of Fort McMurray. No major concentrations of spawning walleye were located. However, based on the distribution of young-of-the-year, it appears that at least some walleye spawned at various localities in the Athabasca River from the Mountain Rapids to as far upstream as the Grand Rapids. There is no evidence that walleye spawned in the Clearwater River within the AOSERP study area. Lake whitefish young-of-the-year probably emerged and moved downstream out of the present study area before spring breakup. Longnose sucker young-of-the-year emerged at the beginning of June followed by pike, walleye, and white sucker young-of-the year later in June. The Athabasca River, and to a lesser extent the Clearwater River, provide valuable habitat for a number of minor species including flathead chub, longnose dace, and lake chub. Large numbers of juvenile goldeye also use the area as feeding grounds during the open-water period.

Molecular identification of a yellow perch viral disease associated with exposure to oil sands process affected waters (PO)


Year: 2011

Abstract:
Large volumes of tailings and process affected water are generated as a result of oil sand mining processes. This presentation discussed the safe incorporation of these wastes into the terrestrial and aquatic landscape. A study was conducted in which yellow perch were stocked into experimental ponds, namely Demonstration Pond and South Bison Pond, during the periods of 1995-1997 and 2008-2010. Demonstration Pond was comprised of mature fine tailings capped with natural surface water, while South Bison Pond was formed at a site surrounded by overburden or lean oil sands. Disease surveys were conducted at these experimental ponds and also at Mildred, Sucker, and Kimowin Lakes. External white nodular lesions, characteristic of lymphocystis disease were observed on perch at all sites except Kimowin Lake. The identity of the virus was confirmed by DNA extraction and PCR with genotype generic major capsid protein gene primers. The presence of lymphocystis disease virus in perch was confirmed through sequencing of PCR results. The viral genotype appeared to be different from any previously isolated viral genotype. During the course of the study, there was an increasing incidence of the disease at Demonstration Pond and a decreasing incidence at the South Bison Pond. The intensity of the disease was found to be proportional to the incidence, which was positively correlated with changes in naphthenic acid concentration.

Report on movement and habitat use of fishes in the lower Athabasca River from 2008 -2009


Year: 2009

Abstract:
The objectives of this study were to monitor movements and determine fall and winter habitat use for key target fish species including flathead chub, burbot, lake whitefish and longnose sucker, and collect supplemental information of the location of burbot and lake whitefish spawning and egg incubation areas in the Lower Athabasca River.

Response of confined aquatic biota to mine depressurization water in Beaver Creek Reservoir


Year: 1980

Abstract:
Beaver Creek Reservoir was formed as a result of diverting the natural flow of Beaver Creek away from mine and plant areas and southward to the Athabasca River via Poplar Creek. The diversion was initiated in the fall of 1975 with the closure of the Beaver Creek Dam; filling of the reservoir was completed in the spring of 1976. When it became necessary to remove mine depressurization water from the mining area, Syncrude was granted permission by the Government of Alberta to discharge this effluent into Beaver Creek Reservoir, on the condition that chloride levels in water entering Poplar Creek did not exceed 400 mg/L above ambient levels. The present study was designed to investigate the survival of selected organisms in Beaver Creek Reservoir during 1979. The primary objective was to determine the response of selected species of aquatic biota to saline mine depressurization water after average dilution in the Beaver Creek Reservoir. More specific requirements of the study were: a) the study was to be carried out entirely within the Beaver Creek Reservoir using test organisms held in situ; b) the study must include three sampling locations and three replicates of each test organism at each station; c) test organisms must include: periphyton (on artificial substrates), native species of fish (white sucker and fathead minnow), and native species of invertebrates (either Gammarus or Hyalella); and d) field studies were to be conducted between June and October, 1979 and were to examine both short and long term effects.

Sublethal effects of aged oil sands-affected water on white sucker (Catostomus commersonii)


Year: 2015

Abstract:
To investigate impacts of proposed oil sands aquatic reclamation techniques on benthic fish, white sucker (Catostomus commersonii Lacépède, 1803) were stocked in 2 experimental ponds—Demonstration Pond, containing aged fine tailings capped with fresh water, consistent with proposed end-pit lake designs, and South Bison Pond, containing aged unextracted oil sands material—to examine the effects of unmodified hydrocarbons. White sucker were stocked from a nearby reservoir at both sites in May 2010 and sampled 4 mo later to measure indicators of energy storage and utilization. Comparisons were then made with the source population and 2 reference lakes in the region. After exposure to aged tailings, white sucker had smaller testes and ovaries and reduced growth compared with the source population. Fish introduced to aged unextracted oil sands material showed an increase in growth over the same period. Limited available energy, endocrine disruption, and chronic stress likely contributed to the effects observed, corresponding to elevated concentrations of naphthenic acids, aromatic compounds in bile, and increased CYP1A activity. Because of the chemical and biological complexity of these systems, direct cause–effect relationships could not be identified; however, effects were associated with naphthenic acids, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, ammonia, and high pH. Impacts on growth have not been previously observed in pelagic fishes examined in these systems, and may be related to differences in sediment interaction. Environ Toxicol Chem 2015;34:589–599. © 2014 SETAC

Supplemental fisheries life history data for selected lakes and streams in the AOSERP study area


Author(s): Herbert, B. K.

Year: 1979

Abstract:
During 1977, various rivers and Jakes from the MacKay, Richardson, and Maybelle river drainages, the Ells River headwaters, and the east slope of the Birch Mountains were spot sampled for fish. Life history information and location data for the 672 fish, of 17 species, collected from these areas are presented in table format. The 17 species collected during this. survey are as follows: Arctic Grayling, Lake Whitefish, Lake Cisco, Lake Trout, Northern Pike, Longnose Dace, Lake Chub, Pearl Dace, Longnose Sucker, White Sucker, Burbot, Trout-Perch, Brook Stickleback, Ninespine Stickleback, Yellow Perch, Walleye, and Slimy Sculpin.