St. Denis National Wildlife Area, SK

Location and Physical Characteristics

  • Located near the transition between Aspen parkland and moist mixed grassland ecoregions in central southern Saskatchewan; 
  • Landscape characterized by large wetland areas and prairie pothole topography, with rich diversity of plant and animal species;
  • A small watershed has been delineated within and covering most of the St. Denis National Wildlife Area (NWA is 361 hectares in area);
    • Intermittent flow and internal drainage characteristic of much of the prairie landscape


  • Established in 1968 by Environment Canada for wetland monitoring and soil surveys;
  • Beginning in 1980, a number of other research initiatives have been carried out, including Investigations of waterfowl and habitat, hydrology, and soil science.

Current Science Focus and Instrumentation

  • Wide range of interdisciplinary research focusing on interactions among agriculture, natural habitats, wildlife, and the physical environment;
    • Disciplines involved include biology (aquatic ecology and migratory birds), hydrology (prairie wetlands, snow accumulation/melt), soil science (soil formation, carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas emission), and toxicology (water quality, pesticides);
  • Meteorological station measuring air temperature/humidity, precipitation, wind speed; continuous radiation measurements are missing;
  • Continuous monitoring of water levels in selected wetlands, used to track runoff and estimate water balance (intermittent streamflow);
  • Piezometer network, groundwater levels measured at several locations; occasional soil moisture and physical/chemical property survey campaigns.