Habitat & Species
Aquatic habitat and species within the Peel sub-basin are undergoing moderate change. This assessment is based on observations of changes in the abundance and health condition of some fish and furbearer species as reported by Indigenous communities, as limited scientific data was found for Arctic fish stocks. Traditional harvesters have observed fish species that were formerly not present in the Peel sub-basin, along with an increase in pike (Esox lucius) populations. Stocks of some species are in decline, including some preferred salmonid species, although traditional harvesters generally describe healthy fish populations in the Peel sub-basin. Reports of less healthy fish with “softer” flesh and abnormalities have been made in recent years. In some areas, a rise in otter (Lutra canadensis) and beaver (Castor canadensis) populations alongside a significant decline in muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) populations has been documented, attributed in part to declines in habitat quality for muskrats and increasing competition between furbearer species. Indigenous Knowledge and scientific observations of changes in wetland cover or riparian forests in the sub-basin were not found.
The following table summarizes the availability of information for each Habitat and Species indicator.
Signs and Signals
Indigenous Knowledge Information and Data
Indigenous Knowledge Availability in Public Sources1
Information and Data
Science Data Availability2
Oral histories and local observations of fish abundance, timing and distribution, species diversity and fish health condition.
Many observations from several locations
Fish (including salmon, suckers, pickerels, burbot) abundance, timing and distribution, species diversity and fish health condition.
Limited data on fish stocks.
Oral histories and stories of wetland and forest (and other habitat / land use)
Some observations from few locations.
Number, location and total area of wetlands. Species diversity in wetlands where available.
Limited information on wetland cover and no information on change over time.
Local observations and oral histories of riparian forests
No information found.
Number, location, total area of riparian forests areas. Species diversity of riparian forests where available.
No data found.
1 Qualifiers for the availability of local and Indigenous Knowledge observations in publicly available sources: Limited = 1-2 observations; Some = 3-4 observations; Many = 5 or more observations
2 Qualifiers for the availability of science data in publicly available sources: Low = Individual studies or locations; Many = Network of monitoring stations across the basin
Changes in fish populations and health condition have been observed by Indigenous communities in the Peel sub-basin.
Wetlands & Riparian Forests
There is minimal wetland cover in the Peel sub-basin, and information on changes over time in wetlands in the Peel sub-basin is also limited. Indigenous communities have observed changes in wetland-dependent wildlife populations.
The overall coverage of wetlands in the Peel sub-basin is likely small (estimated 1%, see Land Cover statistics, supported by an independent estimate of 0.8%). Many wetlands on the Peel Plateau are “perched” near rivers carved in the plateau, providing valuable staging and stop-over sites for the waterfowl migratory pathway for birds traveling east or west between the Yukon and Mackenzie river basins. Examples of such wetlands are Turner Lakes, Jackfish Lakes, Tabor Lakes, and Chappie Lakes. A Canadian Wetland inventory completed recently indicates more wetland land cover than that estimated by land cover mapping cited above, but is still under development and requires field-validation.
Health & Wellbeing