Data analysis and modeling



Using the R programming language and other tools, an exciting part of our projects is to see patterns and process emerge from expansive data sets. This is where questions are answered and where new insight is gained to assist clients with water management decisions. Basic statistics are used to describe general attributes. In water quality projects, this output may be compared to quality guidelines as a starting point. Functional relations may then be explored and statistical models built to explain patterns between habitat conditions (physical and chemical) and biotic assemblages that are often the endpoints of greatest interest and are called valued ecosystem components. Analysis may advance to developing tools for prediction that can include linking engineering actions to ecological response. In this way we go beyond guidelines by interpreting why observations are the way they are. This understanding goes a long way in assisting with management decisions at site-specific or watershed wide spatial scales and short to long time scales.

In our engagement with First Nations communities, indigenous knowledge and wisdom is conveyed to us to enable a greater understanding of how a river or lake or reservoir or coastline works based on stories of the past. We recognize this history and when relevant we ask if our quantitative understanding makes sense when compared to indigenous understanding.  An example of this process was during a paleolimnological study of Seton and Anderson Lakes, BC being done by a PhD student, who we supported.  Elders of the St’at’imc Nation were kind enough to sit down and share stories of the water and landscape. It was a fascinating addition to the ecological complexities revealed in sediment cores. In another example, our development of a “health index” for Burrard Inlet in BC with ESSA Technologies was focused on sediment and water column chemistry and plankton assemblages, which were complimentary to a focus by indigenous peoples of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation on condition of shellfish in tidal waters.  Bivalves were historically an important food source that relies on sediment quality to thrive.

Let’s do more like this together