Successes included exceeding the target milestone of the number of samples collected. Over 700 samples were collected by participating groups across Canada when the goal was 500. Another milestone exceeded was the number of participants who attended the two-day CABIN field certification courses: over 75 people were certified in the national water monitoring protocol standard, when the goal was 40 participants over the three years.
Lessons learned included identifying the need to provide participating groups with more clarification of how the new technology of DNA metabarcoding fits into the already existing CABIN methods and data.
“We’re really excited to implement what we’ve learned from our on-the-ground experience working with the community groups last year as part of the STREAM project. We will continue to support groups setting up their community-based water monitoring programs across the country, removing as many barriers as possible, and continuing to support Year 1 participants in the sustainability of their programs,” said Living Lakes Canada STREAM Program Manager Raegan Mallinson.
During the meeting, the STREAM team received a tour of the Hajibabaei Lab in the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics at the University of Guelph. This is the lab where the bulk benthic samples collected as part of the STREAM project are sent. The lab performs the DNA metabarcoding analysis, which provides the biodiversity data that is the end goal of the STREAM project: the presence/absence taxa list of the benthic macroinvertebrates in the sample.
In 2020, participating groups will continue to receive free benthic macroinvertebrate sample analysis through DNA metabarcoding by the University of Guelph. The priority watersheds have been selected and include:
- the Yukon watershed
- the Fraser Basin, in the Nechako sub-watershed in B.C.
- the Winnipeg watershed in Ontario
- the Great Lakes (Northwestern Lake Superior) in Ontario
- the Ottawa watershed in Ontario
A two-day modified CABIN field certification will be offered in priority watersheds for participating groups and individuals, along with monitoring support and sample shipment.
Although training efforts are focused on the priority watersheds, participation and benthic sample submission (collected through CABIN) from any group or program in any watershed across Canada is encouraged.
“Free DNA metabarcoding sample analysis by the University of Guelph is available to any interested participants that are using the CABIN protocol, even if they are not located in the priority watersheds identified by the STREAM project. This provides a great opportunity for groups starting a new biomonitoring program,” says Mallinson.
To help build Canada’s new baseline and support the validation of cutting-edge technology for stream health assessments, join the STREAM project.
For more information, email Living Lakes Canada STREAM Program Manager Raegan Mallinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Raegan Mallinson (Living Lakes Canada Operation Manager)