Aquatic biota are a product of the habitat in which they live, and alterations to this habitat will generally result in changes in the presence and abundance of particular organisms. NSC has conducted aquatic habitat assessments in waterbodies ranging in size from small streams to large lakes and rivers, and even the marine environment, to describe baseline conditions and to measure change (through long-term monitoring).
NSC maintains a large inventory of specialized sampling and surveying equipment, including kinematic global navigation satellite (GNSS) systems, vertical and sidescan sonar for bathymetric mapping, bottom typing and mapping of substrate distribution and structure, and detecting and mapping submerged aquatic vegetation, and a DIDSON acoustic underwater camera for imaging habitat, structures, and their utilization by fish. NSC also uses Acoustic Doppler Current Profiling (ADCP) and mechanical current meters to examine velocity and sediment boundary dynamics and to inform predictive substrate modelling in large rivers and reservoirs, for mapping suitable habitat for a variety of fish species at various life stages. In addition, for studies focused on large areas of habitat or habitats that are difficult to access, NSC frequently employs remote sensing tools such as ground-based light detection, ranging (LiDAR) system surveys, drone and aircraft-based geocoded imagery and video and satellite imagery.