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River Study

Rivers deliver water, sediments, nutrients and other important materials to coastal waters, and these riverine inputs strongly influence the coastal habitats where eelgrass lives along the James Bay. Changes that have been observed in eelgrass distribution and health in the Bay may be linked to potential shifts in river inputs that may have occurred in the past.


The objective of the River Project is to assess how much water and how much materials the main rivers are carrying into James Bay. The River Project aims to quantify 1) current patterns of water discharge of the main rivers draining into the James Bay, 2) determine the export of sediment, organic matter and nutrients to James Bay by these rivers, 3) understand the main drivers of this river export, and 4) identify past shifts that may have occurred in this exports due to regional climatic shifts or human intervention.


To accomplish these objectives, we have sampled the water of the 18 largest rivers draining into the Eastern James Bay, over the course of 3 years and covering the 4 seasons. We measure several water quality parameters, including nutrients, organic matter and suspended sediments. We have also installed automatic measuring stations in 11 of these rivers, which allow us to monitor river water discharge and temperature continuously.  Combining our measurements of water discharge and water chemistry will allow us to estimate the amount of water and materials that all the major rivers carry to the James Bay, and also how this may have changed over the past decades

Team Members

We are from the Département des sciences biologiques of the Université du Québec à Montréal: Paul del Giorgio (Professor), Michaela de Melo (Postdoctoral Fellow), Marie Gerardin and Caroline Finck-Mercier (Graduate Students), Serge Paquet, Alice Parkes, Sabrina Gignac (Research Professionals).

Links to Other Components

The data that we generate are important to help the oceanographic and eelgrass research teams understand and model the local conditions that influence eelgrass in the coastal habitats along James Bay.