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Abstract Detail



Ecological Section

McIntosh, Anne [1], Ryerson, Delinda [2].

How are plant communities on wellsites in Alberta’s native grasslands and forests recovering after they are reclaimed?

There is uncertainty related to the long-term consequences of reconstructing landscapes on Alberta’s wellsites. Alberta has over 65,000 wellsites that have been certified under evolving reclamation criteria over the past 50+ years. These wellsites are not currently revisited post-certification to evaluate their long-term ecological recovery. While recovery of plant communities on wellsites may continue long after a reclamation certificate is issued, there is currently no way of knowing if or when ecological recovery will be achieved on these reclaimed sites. Alberta’s growing number of certified wellsites that may not have fully recovered is a potential liability that detracts from the government’s commitment to stewardship, and from industry’s social license to operate on public and private lands. Towards the goal of increasing our understanding of ecological recovery on reclaimed wellsites, I will be presenting vegetation data from wellsites and adjacent reference sites in both native grasslands (18 - Dry Mixedgrass Natural Subregion) and forested lands (15 – Central Mixedwood Natural Subregion, 15- Lower Foothills Natural Subregion) that were certified reclaimed between ~10-50 years ago. Among a set of spatially-distributed vegetation plots located both on the wellsite and in an adjacent undisturbed reference site, we quantified plant community patterns (e.g., % cover by species). The plant community composition ordinations illustrated separation of the wellsite and reference locations across ages post-certification. These differences among wellsite and reference locations across ages were primarily correlated with the cover of non-native plant species (e.g., higher cover of Agropyron cristatum (crested wheatgrass) in native grassland wellsites). Overall, our data show that wellsite development impacts can be long lasting and may remain for 50 years or more after reclamation. We do not yet know how long it will take for these reclaimed wellsites to recover, and thus long-term monitoring is needed to evaluate recovery trajectories for these disturbed lands.


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Related Links:
Ecological Recovery Monitoring Project Website


1 - University of Alberta, Augustana Campus - Sciences, 4901 46 Ave, Camrose, AB, T4V 2R3, Canada
2 - The Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute, CW 405 University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

Keywords:
industrial sites
restoration
ecological recovery
reclamation
plant communities.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 35
Location: Salon 6/The Shaw Conference Centre
Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
Time: 10:45 AM
Number: 35011
Abstract ID:1060
Candidate for Awards:None


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