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Scenarios for Survival of a UNESCO World Heritage Site

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Funding Year: 2016

Research Areas: Natural Capital

Regions: North America

Combining the Distribution of Semi-Aquatic Mammal Populations with Ecohydrologic Analysis


Climate change and human activities such as hydropower development have created ecological impacts and habitat loss at the Peace-Athabasca Delta in northeastern Alberta, Canada, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Exploring the effects of climate change and human activity on one of the planets largest inland deltas is critical to understanding, mitigating, and adapting to ecohydrologic changes and preserving biodiversity in this and other parts of the world. This project will combine hydrologic modeling and population dynamics of the muskrat, a semi-aquatic rodent whose abundance is indicative of habitat health, to investigate the impacts of these stressors on the ecosystem. Researchers will also account for impacts by and upon aboriginal peoples subsistence and commercial trapping due to changes in muskrat demography.

Learn more about the Environmental Venture Projects grant program and other funded projects.

Principal Investigators:

Steve Gorelick, Cyrus Fisher Tolman Professor in the School of Earth Sciences and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment

Elizabeth Hadly, Paul S. and Billie Achilles Professor in Environmental Biology, Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment and Professor, by courtesy, of Geological Sciences

Related News

Downstream of hydroelectric dams and Alberta’s oil sands, one of the world’s largest freshwater deltas is drying out. New Stanford University research suggests long-term drying is making it harder for muskrats to recover from massive die-offs. It’s a sign of threats to come for many other species.

Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability