Lia Chalifour

University of Victoria
MSc Candidate
Department of Biology
Dr. Julia Baum and Dr. John Robinson
Funding Period: 
2016 to 2018
Maximizing the Contribution of British Columbia's Eelgrass Ecosystems to Climate Change Solutions

This project will quantify the utilization of eelgrass and estuarine habitats by juvenile salmon in the Fraser River estuary. We will conduct biodiversity surveys in eelgrass meadows to enumerate the abundances and residence times of commercially important species. Lia will work in partnership with the Baum Lab team to address the stability and resilience of eelgrass fish communities in the province.

Climate change is an increasingly urgent topic, and eelgrass meadows have been identified as an important carbon sink. We are partnering with both an international study and a province-wide quantitative analysis of how environmental factors influence the ability of eelgrass to store carbon.

Lia holds a degree in Biology from the University of Victoria, and has spent 5 years working for environmental non-profit organizations in both a field research and environmental education capacity, Lia is passionate about conservation ecology, and strives to contribute to conservation initiatives through science and education.


Supporting Fraser River salmon - Feature from Spring 2016 Newsletter 

Declines in salmon populations in the Salish Sea are the impetus behind a project to better adapt fisheries management strategies to changing environmental conditions. PICS UVic fellow Lia Chalifour is partnering with the Raincoast Conservation Foundation to take a closer look at how fish use different habitats within the Fraser River estuary—a confluence of the world’s largest salmon-bearing river, the cities of Greater Vancouver and the Salish Sea.

Juvenile salmon from 56 conservation units migrate through the river annually, but it is not well understood how they use different habitats within the estuary. Sand flats, dense eelgrass meadows, and salt marshes provide different benefits, as well as offer potential carbon uptake. The goal is to demonstrate habitat use patterns, and to evaluate salmon health by analyzing growth rings on their otolith bones. Results from this study will contribute to the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, an agreement between the US and Canada to recover shrinking Chinook and Coho populations. The project is the field component for a MEOPAR project co-led by Dr. Julia Baum from UVic and Dr. Tara Martin from UBC.

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Lia Chalifour and the research team use a custom built purse seine, a 40-meter fishing net, to scoop up small fish to measure their health.