Parks Canada is a world leader in science-based ecological conservation and restoration. Through its Conservation and Restoration Program, Parks Canada takes actions to preserve national parks and contribute to the recovery of species-at-risk like wild Atlantic salmon.

Parks Canada takes its mandate to protect ecological integrity very seriously and is the only national parks system in the world that has fully implemented a system-wide ecological integrity monitoring and reporting program, consisting of more than 700 independent scientific measures that inform park-specific priorities and guide investments in conservation.

Parks Canada currently has numerous Atlantic salmon research priorities and opportunities in Atlantic Canada.

Parks Canada Research Chair

Research Chair Kurt Samways standing in a small brook with an electrofisher strapped to his back.
Kurt Samways electrofishing for salmon parr.

Five Atlantic national parks have collaborated with the University of New Brunswick to establish Parks Canada’s very first research chair.

The Parks Canada Research Chair in Aquatic Restoration is studying the ecological effects of Atlantic salmon recovery work underway to conserve or restore salmon stocks in Fundy, Cape Breton Highlands, Gros Morne, Kouchibouguac and Terra Nova National Parks.

With over a decade of fish-related studies and five years of experience working in partnership with Fundy National Park, Dr. Kurt Samways has been chosen by the University of New Brunswick to continue his research on a larger scale across five national parks.

Dr. Kurt Samways

The Parks Canada Research Chair position has been awarded to Dr. Kurt Samways from the University of New Brunswick, Saint John.

After obtaining a Masters of Biology from the University of Regina in 2008, Dr. Samways then moved to Atlantic Canada where he studied and work as a research associate at the University of New Brunswick. He received his Doctorate in Biology with a specialization in freshwater ecology in 2017.

Dr. Samways has collaborated on a variety of published and world renowned research from studying marine derived nutrients in Fundy National Park to Atlantic salmon migration in the North Atlantic Ocean. He has also been featured in publications such as Journal of Applied Ecology, Marine Ecology Progress Series, and Ecosphere. With over a decade of fish-related studies, Dr. Samways will be continuing his research on a larger scale, bridging the salmon recovery efforts currently underway across five Atlantic national parks.

Research opportunities

Parks Canada is actively working with partners to monitor and restore ecosystems, expand our knowledge of biodiversity and protect species at risk like Atlantic salmon.

Together we can make a difference!

That is why Parks Canada invites researchers, conservationists, and the stewards of tomorrow to become part of the recovery team.

The three ecological targets below represent the range of salmon research in the participating Atlantic parks. Please click on the tabs for research opportunities in the different regions. For more information, please contact Danielle.Latendresse@canada.ca.

A researcher shows undergraduate students how to make correct calculations
Undergraduate students learn hands-on skills during a salmon recovery operation

Ecological target 1: Atlantic salmon
Two Parks Canada employees standing in river shallows beside a blue bin.
Parks Canada employees prepare to release a bin of Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic salmon, delivered by helicopter, into the Upper Salmon River in Fundy National Park

This target addresses the recovery and sustainability of Atlantic salmon.


Atlantic region

Research opportunities

  • Assess population diversity and genetic variation among individuals within and between study rivers. This could include analyzing rates of loss of genetic diversity, fitness and relative captive and wild contributions to offspring parentage.
New Brunswick

Research opportunities

Kouchibouguac National Park
  • An examination of juvenile survival rates using appropriate methods, sites and strategies for each life stage.
  • Assess population diversity and genetic variation among individuals within and between study rivers. This could include analyzing rates of loss of genetic diversity, fitness and relative captive and wild contributions to offspring parentage.
  • An assessment of conservation requirements for Atlantic salmon in the Greater Kouchibouguac Ecosystem, and further, as it relates to past requirements calculations.
Fundy National Park
  • Short and long term impacts of smolt-to-adult supplementation as it relates to populations or stocks where human intervention is required:
    • Evaluate the reproductive success of captive-reared adults. Which could include the assessment of gamete viability and whether there is a spawning population density effect that could limit reproductive success.
    • Evaluation of overall fitness measures of captive reared adults. This could include physiology, stress levels during transport and release activity; morphology, changes over time and comparisons to wild stock; maturation rates and timing; egg size; viability and fecundity.
  • Assess population diversity and genetic variation among individuals within and between study rivers. This could include analyzing rates of loss of genetic diversity, fitness and relative captive and wild contributions to offspring parentage.
Nova Scotia

Research opportunities

Cape Breton Highlands National Park
  • Short and long term impacts of smolt-to-adult supplementation as it relates to populations or stocks where human intervention is required (fitness, juvenile densities, size-at-age, maturation timing, relative contribution of wild/captive-reared fish, degree of mixing b/w captive-reared and wild, baseline genetic diversity before supplementation vs after).
  • An assessment of the river’s conservation requirements of Atlantic salmon, and further, as it relates to past requirement calculations.
  • Assess supplementation viability through studying the relation and diversity of the Clyburn Brook salmon stock to salmon stocks from neighbouring river systems.
Newfoundland and Labrador

Research opportunities

Gros Morne National Park
  • An assessment of Trout River’s conservation requirements of Atlantic salmon, and further, as it relates to past requirements calculations.
  • Short and long term impacts of smolt-to-adult supplementation as it relates to populations or stocks where human intervention is required.
  • Assess population diversity and genetic variation among individuals within the study river and across nearby rivers. This could include analyzing gene flow and homing patterns within Trout River; investigating the resident population; and comparing across rivers.
  • Analyze the effects of supplementation through the changes in the population’s genetic integrity, fitness and relative captive and wild contributions to offspring parentage.
  • Investigate potential aquatic invasive species, their impacts on Atlantic salmon, and best monitoring and management practices to ensure ecological integrity of Trout River.
Terra Nova National Park
  • Assess population diversity and genetic variation among individuals within and between study rivers. This could include analyzing rates of loss of genetic diversity, fitness and relative captive and wild contributions to offspring parentage.
Ecological target 2: Ecosystems
A salmon in river shallows.
An Inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon camouflages itself against the rocks in the Upper Salmon River in Fundy National Park.

This target addresses the ecosystem and ecological processes of the freshwater watersheds and the marine ecosystem.

Atlantic region

Research opportunities

  • Study the impacts of climate change on the freshwater ecosystems and Atlantic salmon habitat.
  • Identification of key spawning habitat and the use of this habitat as it relates to spawning and reproductive success.
  • Marine mortality: how the park rivers fit into the larger marine mortality picture.
    • Environmental effects on smoltification and at sea survival, i.e. temperature effects on physiology and marine survival.
    • Temporal and spatial distribution of salmon at sea to determine the locations and timing of mortality.
    • Performance within the marine environment as it relates to the genetic make-up and fitness of populations of salmon within the national park sites.
New Brunswick

Research opportunities

Kouchibouguac National Park
  • Study the impacts of climate change on the freshwater ecosystems and Atlantic salmon habitat.
  • Identification of key spawning habitat and the use of this habitat as it relates to spawning and reproductive success.
Fundy National Park
  • Study the impacts of climate change on the freshwater ecosystems and Atlantic salmon habitat.
  • Identification of key spawning habitat and the use of this habitat as it relates to spawning and reproductive success.
  • Performance within the marine environment as it relates to the genetic make-up and fitness of inner Bay of Fundy salmon stocks within the Atlantic national parks. Are there families/treatments within our Live Gene Bank (LGB) that seem to perform better than others?
Nova Scotia

Research opportunities

Cape Breton Highlands National Park
  • Identification of key spawning habitat and the use of this habitat as it relates to spawning and reproductive success.
  • Study the impacts of climate change on the freshwater ecosystems and Atlantic salmon habitat (identify potential thermal barriers, change-over time in days of thermal stress conditions, occurrence/timing of weather events that may destroy redds or harm juveniles).
Newfoundland and Labrador

Research opportunities

Terra Nova National Park
  • Study the impacts of climate change on the freshwater ecosystems and Atlantic salmon habitat.
Gros Morne National Park
  • Identification of key spawning habitat and the use of this habitat as it relates to spawning and reproductive success.
  • Assess the use of the lacustrine habitat by juveniles, precocious parr and pre-spawning adults.
  • Study the impacts of climate change (e.g., stochastic events, water quality, thermal stress) on the freshwater ecosystems and Atlantic salmon habitat.
Ecological target 3: Community stewardship
A man holds up a mature salmon.
Resource conservation staff member holds up a salmon during the salmon traps project at Kouchibouguac National Park.

This target will address the connection between the community, Atlantic salmon and the surrounding ecosystem. Community represents the people of Atlantic Canada including specific academic, indigenous, community and industry groups.

Regional

Research opportunities

  • Identify integrated cultural resources activities.
Social Sciences

Research opportunities

  • Determine the visitors’ educational experience, in terms of quality of experience or interaction, whether it was an intended or unintended educational experience, and future interest.
  • Measure the success and shortcomings of species at risk awareness.
  • Determine how values, attitudes, and behaviours change as a result of regional recovery initiatives.
  • Compare pre-collapse Atlantic salmon engagement in cultural activities, such as angling and preparing, to post-collapse engagement in recovery and conservation activities.
  • Study poaching activity and the social effects on communities where recovery action is present.

Parks Canada invites researchers to become part of the salmon recovery team. Find out about applying for a research permit in a national park.