Project Dashboard

Climate change, migration and breeding of birds at Alert, Nunavut (149763)
Proposal Status: Conformity Determination Issued
Project Overview
Type of application: Amendment
Proponent name: François Vézina
Company: Université du Québec à Rimouski
Start Date: 2021-05-15
End Date: 2023-09-30
Operation Type: Annual
Project Description:
This is a project to be conducted under our new CWS permit that has been originally approved in 2015 and amended in 2017. It has then been renewed in 2021. Below is the text presenting the approved project at Alert. Only a small fraction of this (i.e. the work on breeding snow buntings) would be conducted at Iqaluit in 2022. The text is essentially the same as the original NPC application (2015 amended in 2017 and renewed in 2022). The general long-term objective of this project is to determine how changing conditions associated with climate change influence the capacity of arctic breeding birds to recover from, and prepare for migration and determine how this may interfere with their reproductive preparation, reproductive effort and success as well as their survival. The project approved in 2015 focused on snow buntings at Alert, Nunavut. The project was then amended in 2017 to add three species of shorebirds that are common at Alert (red knots, sanderlings and ruddy turnstones). The project was then renewed in 2022. The Canadian Forces Station Alert is the northernmost site to study arctic breeding birds in Canada. Due to its location, the area undergoes rapid changes in conditions. It is therefore an ideal location to measure the consequences of climate change on arrival, breeding and departure phenology of birds and to study whether birds are able to adjust to their rapidly changing environment. Our goal is to evaluate post-migratory condition of birds on their arrival, monitor change in physiological condition during the transition from migration to breeding and determine how this influences timing of breeding, breeding success and yearly survival. In the fall, we will focus on preparation for migration by documenting physiological changes over time in adults and juveniles until their departure. Our work will involve banding snow buntings, red knots, ruddy turnstones and sanderlings with standard bands (metal bands from CWS). We will also determine the migratory route of this snow bunting population using light-sensitive geolocators as the wintering location for Alert snow buntings is not known. Our project also involves nest monitoring of snow buntings and turnstones (the only shorebird species with conspicuous nests at Alert). We will conduct measurements of individual condition (body mass, visual fat and muscle scores, blood metabolites) as well as individual performance (measure of basal and maximal metabolic rates). These techniques have been highly refined and are successfully used at this site by our team since 2015. The field crew, led by Dr. François Vézina (UQAR), includes himself and 3 students and postdocs. The project will run annually between 15 May and 30 September but exact duration for each year will depend on budget and available lodging space at the station. Travelling around the station to monitor and capture birds will require the use of ATVs. Crew members will be lodged at the station. This work is new, the questions have never been answered and are developed based on previous findings on these birds at Alert.
Summary of Modifications:
MODIFICATION DEMANDED DUE TO CANCELLATION OF FIELDWORK FOR A 3rd YEAR IN A ROW Our fieldwork at Alert has been cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID pandemic. We found out on 5 April that the 2022 season is also cancelled, this time due to the war in Ukraine (Alert is a military station and the National Defence takes the situation very seriously). Therefore, 2022 is the third year in a row where our work is cancelled at Alert. This request for modification is to allow our team to conduct a simplified and shortened field season at Iqaluit rather than at Alert in 2022. The ORIGINAL plan involved the study of snow buntings and 3 species of shorebirds from May to end of September. The NEW plan would focus ONLY on snow buntings during JUNE and JULY. Our plan is to conduct ONLY the protocols involving nest searches, captures of birds, banding and monitoring of reproductive effort and success, which is about half of the original plan. In terms of land use, this project will have minimal impact. Snow buntings nest all around Iqaluit and sometimes even in human buildings. We will use a truck to drive on the main roads surrounding the town and then access nests by foot. We expect to remain within 800m of the main roads when searching for nests by foot. Our crew will be lodged and fed in town. THIS WORK IS ALREADY APPROVED, the questions have never been answered and are developed based on previous findings on these birds at Alert. The work to be conducted at Iqaluit in 2022 forms the basis of a Master's project is the bare minimum to guarantee success for the student. This work will be conducted by Myself (Dr. F. Vézina), a postdoctoral scientist ( Dr. A. Le Pogam) and the student involved in the MSc project (J. Sénéchal). This document presents the former approved demand and add-ons (e.g. map, waste) wherever needed.
Persons: 4
Days: 107
Project Map
List of all project geometries:
ID Geometry Location Name
8717 polygon CFS Alert
8732 polyline Iqaluit
Planning Regions:
Affected Areas and Land Types
Settlement Area
North Baffin Planning Region
Project Land Use and Authorizations
Project Land Use
Scientific Research
Licensing Agencies
CWS: Scientific permit under the Migratory Bird Regulations
Other Licensing Requirements
No data found.
Material Use
Type Quantity Size Use
ATV 4 83x47 inches Driving on trails to access bird breeding sites. Same as before number of persons updated from 3 to 4
Pick-up truck (Iqaluit) 1 approx 235x80 inches Driving on roads around Iqaluit to access breeding sites of snow buntings. The truck will remain on roads. We will walk to find nests,
Fuel Use
Type Container(s) Capacity UOM Use
Gasoline 4 200 Liters For ATVs (managed by military)
Gasoline 1 1 Liters For pick up truck. Gas will be purchased in town as needed. This is a CWS truck (managed by CWS). No containers needed especially for this project.
Hazardous Material and Chemical Use
Type Container(s) Capacity UOM Use
None 0 0 Liters N/A
Water Consumption
Daily Amount (m3) Retrieval Method Retrieval Location
0 Managed by military/city Managed by military/city
Waste and Impacts
Environmental Impacts
No impact expected. All birds will be released on their site of capture. All travelling around the station or at Iqaluit to monitor nests and capture birds will be done using 4 ATVs (Alert) and a pick-up truck (Iqaluit). Vehicles will use existing roads. NOTE: I am getting an error message when trying to update the waste management record. For both Alert and Iqaluit no trash will be left in the field. We expect only minor trash like food wraps and such that will be taken back to town for disposal.
Waste Management
Waste Type Quantity Generated Treatement Method Disposal Method
No data found.
Category: Application form attachment - Other Authorizations
Recieved: 2017-01-30
Originator: François Vézina
Public Registry ID: 19880
Document Size: 165.38 Kb
Category: Application form attachment - Project description
Recieved: 2021-02-15
Originator: François Vézina
Public Registry ID: 19882
Document Size: 1183.67 Kb
Category: Application related document - Conformity Determination Letter
Recieved: 2017-02-10
Originator: Goump Djalogue
Public Registry ID: 19881
Document Size: 725.62 Kb
Category: Application related document - Conformity Determination Letter
Recieved: 2021-02-22
Originator: Goump Djalogue
Public Registry ID: 19883
Document Size: 296.26 Kb
Category: Application related document - Conformity Determination Letter
Recieved: 2022-05-13
Originator: Adrian Gerhartz
Public Registry ID: 20106
Document Size: 265.66 Kb


Environmental Protection:
s3.13.8: The applicant undertakes to prevent any new occurrences of pollution, garbage and contamination at the site of the development.

Removal of Fuel Drums:
s3.13.8: The applicant undertakes to remove all drums safely from the site and dispose of the drums in a safe manner.

New Site Restoration and Clean Up:
s3.13.1 and Appendix H, s1: The applicant undertakes to clean up the site and restore the site to its natural condition to the greatest extent possible.

Old Site Restoration and Clean Up:
s3.13.2: The applicant undertakes to clean up the site and restore the site to its original condition to the greatest extent possible, including any work required due to the applicant's action prior to this application.

Low-Level Air Flights:
Appendix H, s3: Will the applicant avoid all low-level flights?

Caribou Protection Measures:
s3.3.7 and Appendix D: Will the applicant comply with the Caribou Protection Measures outlined in section 2.4.6 and in Appendix D?

Caribou Water Crossings:
s3.3.7 and map: Will the applicant avoid, between may 15 and September 1, to construct any camp, cache any fuel or conduct any blasting within 10 km of any Designated Caribou Water Crossing identified

Polar Bear Denning Areas and Walrus Haul-outs:
s3.3.8: Will the applicant keep its activities away from any polar bear denning area or walrus haul-out?

Reporting of Archaeological Sites:
s3.11.3 and Appendix H, s2 and s8: Will the applicant immediately report the discovery of all suspected archaeological sites to the Department of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth (GN)?

Scientific Research:
s3.9.3: Does the project proposal involve scientific research?
If yes, will the applicant integrate all available and relevant local and traditional knowledge when conducting its research?

Consultation with Nunavut Research Institute:
s3.9.5: Has the applicant consulted with the Nunavut Research Institute about research topics that would benefit or interest local residents?
ii. If no, explain why.
AMENDMENT: We are currently discussion options with CWS to organize outreach projects during the field season for the community. This will develop further in the next months or could take the form of hands on experience for children as well as discussions and presentations about our research.Despite the lack of local community close to Alert, we are studying ways to present our findings to Northern Inuit communities and our team is dedicated to collaboration and knowledge sharing. For example, we are presenting our research each year to representatives of Inuit communities through our participation at the annual ArcticNet meeting (all students and postdocs present their work and participate in workshops, they also organize symposiums on our collaborative work). We are also actively involved in educative activities for Alert personnel through science discussions at social events or through wildlife observation field trips. We are also planning on presenting our most recent research to Inuit communities through knowledge transfer and exchange activities organized by the Center for Northern Studies (of which F. Vézina is a member), for example at the Community Science Center of Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik. Furthermore, a student from our group (cosupervised by F. Vézina) is developing a knowledge transfer and exchange activity in botany for the community of Qausuittuq (Resolute), funding has been applied for this project. If the proposal is accepted, we will join this project and develop knowledge transfer and exchange activities on our migratory bird projects for the people of Qausuittuq.
Local Services and Local Employment:
s3.9.4: Will the applicant rely on local services and employment where possible?
ii. If no, explain why it is not possible.
AMENDMENT: We were informed just last week of the cancellation of our field work at Alert. If we can conduct our research at Iqaluit, through our collaboration with CWS, we are hoping to expand our collaboration network. CWS already offered punctual help from its staff at times during the season. This is a win win situation where we can train local personnel and get help at the same time.There is no local community close to CFS Alert. The closest one is Aujuittuq (Grise Fjord), which is 800km south of Alert. Military flights between Trenton (Ont) and Alert either fly direct or stop once during the trip, at Thule, an American military base in Greenland. However, as members of the Center for Northern Studies, we are collaborating with a large number of researchers active at other sites in the Arctic, several of which have a long history of collaboration with Inuit communities. It is our hope to learn from these resourceful people and develop ways in which we could integrate Inuit knowledge in our research. Our project is also part of a larger integrative research effort involving several research teams across the Canadian Arctic. This allows for integrating our findings within an ecosystem-based framework, in accordance with the Inuit perspective of nature.

Communication on Scientific Research:
s3.2.8: The applicant will, at minimum, translate a summary of its work into Inuktitut and communicate with communities using language that is clear and non-technical. The results of all scientific re