This site is about rivers and streams, aquatic habitats, and about aquatic ecology in general. It is also about aquatic insects. Much of it is about the Saskatchewan River in Saskatchewan, Canada, and it is also about the Arctic, Oregon, Japan, China, and other places. These pages are based in part on work done in my lab or in the field by myself or my graduate students. Also it is about things that interest me and that catch my attention. References are linked when they seem especially appropriate. (First Published 4/29/2009)
As an introduction, I would like to point out that the Saskatchewan River is one of the most unique in the world in terms of aquatic insect diversity -See Below, 1/4 from top of page ** . Information from studies in my lab on mayflies, or Ephemeroptera, is the basis for my conclusion. The Saskatchewan River has nearly as many Families and 3/4 as many Genera as the whole country of China, and the river has many more Families and almost as many Genera of mayflies as the state of Oregon . The Province of Saskatchewan has an additional three families and 10 genera, compared to the river (recent estimates). See Below for details.
Not everyone will be fascinated by mayflies and information such as the above, but these organisms are good indicators of the health of the environment and a measure of how we are treating it.
Knowledge of rivers and streams and the organisms that should be in them means that with photos and observatons you can determine in a matter of minutes the general health and state of a river or stream. See for example Columbia River, Oldman Dam, Oregon Winter Ponds, and Mystery of St. Louis.
Both knowledge and infomation are required, --information is nothing more than facts, and facts may or may not be very useful. Knowledge however is gained through experience and study, and used correctly, knowledge along with information and facts can answer questions or provide a diagnosis of a problem or explain an observation very quickly.
9999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999 It is a concern that the Saskatchewan River rapidly has been, and continues to be destroyed by dams already constructed, and dams and wiers that are planned. See Environmental Laws, menu at top left.. Previously, pulp mills, chemical plant spills (mercury, see below), and city sewage had been a problem, but these are less serious now. The main concern at present is the planned dam or dams, that if built will completely alter the natural flow regimes, and probably the temperature regimes that are essential for the river ecological community.
Most sites in the Saskatchewan River System have already been severely altered by sewage, unknown chemical pollution, and especially by dams. The four sites included in the pdf above (duplicated below) are Lemsford Ferry, Borden Bridge, Cecil Ferry, and Weldon Ferry, (sites 1,7,8, and 9, map below) and they were chosen because they probably resemble the original river more than any other sites, -- no pre-development samples are known from government or other sources.
1. Lemsford Ferry, normal, but lake water begins at 1.
2. Gardiner Dam, Lake, zero benthic insects
3. Outlook Bridge,very reduced community
4. Cranberry Flats, very reduced community
5.Saskatoon, Clarkboro Ferry, reduced community
6. Birch Hills Ferry, some recovery
7. Weldon Ferry, much improved
8. Borden Bridge, normal
9. Cecil Ferry, normal
10. Confluence, normal
General Condition of the river, other sites:
Regarding other sites, Gardiner Dam and Diefenbaker Lake destroy hundreds of kms of river (1-3) , both upstream and downstream, Saskatoon sewage (5) continues even today to produce a "slimy" zone that locals prefer to avoid but that is deemed unimpacted by Environment Canada. Two dams are found downstream (upper right from 10), a pulp mill formerly emptied into the North Saskatchewan River (9), for decades large amounts of pesticides such as DDT were dumped into the river for blackfly control (at 4,6,7,9, and 10) etc. etc etc. Many of the altered sites are covered elsewhere on this website, and complete and widespread survey results throughout the season and over a period of many years are available in my lab.
The lists and distributions of Mayflies, Stoneflies, and Caddisflies of the Saskatchewan River in Saskatchewan in the pdf above are mostly from careful taxonomic studies (Dosdall and Lehmkuhl, Smith, Mason, and Webb.
Repeating from above, the Saskatchewan River is one of the most unique in the world in terms of aquatic insect diversity** (but not for fish). Information below about the mayflies, or Ephemeroptera, is the basis for my conclusion. The Saskatchewan River has nearly as many Families and 3/4 as many Genera as the whole country of China, and the river has many more Families and almost as many Genera of mayflies as the state of Oregon . The Province of Saskatchewan has an additional three families and 10 genera, compared to the river (recent estimates).
*** (Current field observations and searches of the scientific and other sources indicate that it is the destruction of other river systems such as the Columbia and Missouri Rivers rather than the special nature of the Saskatchewan system that explains this. It is because of good luck and remoteness that the Saskatchewan has not been likewise altered and destroyed.*** There is no special protection nor are there special laws in Saskatchwan or Canada (see Boyd, References and this link). There are no detailed publically available ecological studies on the river provided by those who plan to build the dams chemical plants. Regarding good luck, at least from the point of endangered species and unique river communities, information can be found at: http://www.gov.sk.ca/news?newsId=7ca2387a-e0ee-46d0-8379-a2e0f92b256c. Here we find that :"A study commissioned by the Saskatchewan and Alberta governments has found that building a dam on the South Saskatchewan River near the Saskatchewan-Alberta border would not be feasible. (Google Meridian Dam, Saskatchewan River). "The estimated project costs far outweigh the potential benefits, and building such a project would necessitate an unjustifiable investment of public money. " Minister Responsible for Sask Water Ron Osika said. "The project is not economically viable, before even considering the possible environmental impact." This dam, which would have been called the Meridian Dam, on the South Saskatchewan River, north of Medicine Hat was considered in the 1990"s and as can be seen above it did not go forward. To my knowledge, no ecological river community studies were ever done by the government or consultants, even though the proposed dam would have destroyed the unique Lemsford Ferry site completely. In the 1980's a large dam was constructed near Nipawin, which also destroyed large parts of the river. Google Codette Dam Saskatchewan River. Regarding future threats, a dam is now proposed just east of "10" and "G" on the maps below. See http://www.melfortjournal.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2201084 and http://www.khl.com/magazines/international-construction/detail/item9755/Saskatchewan-plan-CA$-1-billion-hydro-electric-dam/ and other websites by googling James Smith Dam Saskatchewan River. Large areas of relatively undisturbed river will be destroyed if this dam is constructed. From www.hydroworld.com/.../damsandcivilstructures/.../new-dam_wins_support.html) we learn about the James Smith dam that "The dam would be built across the Saskatchewan River where the North and South Saskatchewan rivers meet. The new dam will have little impact on the local ecosystem, said Andy McPhee, vice president of Brookfield Renewable Power, a project partner." To my knowledge this statement about no effect on the local ecosystem is not based on science or field studies, and it certainly is not supported by decades of study and thousands of samples from the area by my lab. I hope there is some explanation somewhere, and I am not sure where the project partner gets his information. Another unknown is the $150-million metallurgical processing facility to be built near Langham near Borden Bridge (table 2 and question 4) on the North Saskatchewan River and the plan for the company to base its gold, copper, bismuth, cobalt, and copper refinery here. It is not known if the river in this relatively undisturbed area will be affected by effluents from the refinery, but it is said that the site was chosen in part because a water supply, as well as roads and rainlways, were available. Is the "water supply" the river, and will the river be impacted ? See:
***(Although many Federal, Provincial, and local government agencies, plus several NGO's (Environ., Canada., Sask Environment, Partners for the Saskatchewan Basin, The Meewasin Valley Authority, etc. etc. etc.) supposedly are interested in the Saskatchewan River and supposedly monitor water quality and ecology of the river, almost no information is available to the public. We know this from personal experience. Requests to Government offices thruough freedom of information mechanisms, plus fees of course, yielded essentially nothing, except loss of the fee. See also for example the following link for the type of informatin that is available on like for the Saskatchewan River system. . Compare searches for Saskatchewan River Water Quality in contrast to Columbia River Water Quality as an example.)
In addition, I know of no plans to do pre-dam benthic ecological for the proposed dam, and thus it will again be possible to claim that the dams have no impact on the natural river, because there will be no pre-construction samples to compare with. Seems very strange, but maybe I am missing something.
New. In August, 2009, a special trip was made to Lemsford Ferry, S. Sask. River, to search for rare and unusual species for taking photos and making short videos. See Lemsford Ferry, and below. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Raptoheptagenia cruentata Whiting and Lehmkuhl 1987, a rare and unusual predatory species, from the South Saskatchewan River at Lemsford Ferry (site B in the map near the middle of this page). --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- see also Rare Species , Lemsford Ferry, and Ephemeroptera.
In the older literature you will see drawings of this larva labeled as Anepeorus sp (e.g. Edmunds, Jensen, and Berner 1976). Now, the name is R. cruentata, above. The change involved an unassociated larva and an unassociated adult both being described and named. Finally, through rearing of larvae to the adult, it was seen that they were one and the same species. The larva is so uniquie and different that Eric Whiting and I described an new genus for the species. The species name "cruentata" formerly existed, and by the rules of nomenclature, it was retained- thus- "R. cruentata". see:(www.famu.org/mayfly/pubs/pub_w/pubwhitinge1987p405.pdf)
The large individual is a living R. cruentata. The smaller individual above is Isonychia.
New- videos, 4 July 09-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(These organisms are small (1 cm) and very active. Super macro is required. Also, file size must be kept within reason. These videos are short, but hopefully illustrate the habitus of the living animals. These are first efforts by me and I am working on better techniques).
Videos of Pseudiron centralis, an unusual carnivorous species found in the Saskatchewan River. (See also bottom of page Rare Species and Mayflies (Ephemeroptera); recent reports indicate that the species is very widespread and probably more common than previously though. See Meyer and McCafferty, Mayflies of California, for example)