Northbeat: Garbage contaminates creek in Iqaluit

Posted on

Biomonitoring of Airport Creek, Iqaluit, Nunavut

As part of our ongoing research on Airport Creek, we survey the health of the river in 2015 since our original studies from 2007-2011;

From Medeiros, A. S., Luszczek, C. E., Shirley, J., & Quinlan, R. (2011). Benthic biomonitoring in arctic tundra streams: a community-based approach in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada. Arctic, 59-72.

The core objective of this project was to evaluate the ability to conduct biomonitoring within Arctic tundra streams that may be influenced by localized point-source pollution. Our results indicated that simple taxonomic summary metrics are able to detect changes in stream assemblages with small adjustments to widely used biomonitoring protocols (e.g., CABIN). The power of these biotic metrics to discriminate sites and specific relationships to contamination is improved by more precise taxonomic identifications of the Chironomidae. We observed specific intra-family benthic-invertebrate responses to point-source pollution (shifts towards pollution-tolerant Orthocladiinae species of chironomids).

Although the scope of this study did not include ecotoxicological approaches, the relationship between biotic degradation and increased concentrations of metals and nutrients indicates a strong association between benthic invertebrates and anthropogenic pollution along the urbanized reaches of Airport Creek. It would be worthwhile to conduct further toxicological analysis to determine whether additional compounds may also be influencing the benthic invertebrate community at sites along the urbanized portions of Airport Creek. Additionally, it would be interesting to explore the possibility that these species may suffer detrimental effects from contaminants at concentrations lower than current water quality guidelines (which are largely based on temperate zone data) in the extreme environmental conditions at the northern threshold of their ranges in this region of the Arctic.