Wetlands provide critical habitat and valuable ecosystem services. Land use conversion in Ontario, however, has led to substantial wetland loss. The restoration of wetlands on agricultural properties has the potential to offset wetland loss, yet these wetlands are also susceptible to contamination by pesticides.
The proposed research project will assess the insect fauna present associated with prairie wetlands, as well as those found in adjacent fields of crop plants (canola, barley, wheat) and restored grasslands. Insects will be collected using various trapping methods to sample taxa exhibiting different lifestyles. Collected specimens will be identified as specifically as possible to determine taxa found in sampled habitats.
Invasive species represent a major threat to global biodiversity, and are projected to increase in impact as globalization promotes the continued introduction of novel species. Proactive research that investigates the ecological, social, and economic threat of novel species prior to or early in their establishment is therefore critical to effective conservation planning. For our research we will be investigating the threat of cattails (Typha spp.) in the Fraser River Estuary (FRE).
The American Eel is a species of significant ecological, social and commercial value and a species of conservation concern in part due to reduced habitat connectivity to both freshwater habitat as juveniles, commonly known as glass eels or elvers. During the proposed research period the intern will work to quantify passage of elvers through existing infrastructure that is representative of the majority of infrastructure within Ducks Unlimited projects within Atlantic Canada.
Introduced Phragmites australis (common reed) is considered one of the most invasive plants in North America. European genotypes spread widely and can form dense stands with undesirable ecological impacts. Conventional management approaches have proved largely ineffective, leaving classical biocontrol (i.e., introducing herbivores of the plant from its native range) as the most promising alternative.
Cavity-nesting ducks, including the wood duck, common goldeneye, and hooded merganser, are of interest in wildlife management programs due to their value to hunters and conservation groups. The lower Saint John River floodplain (New Brunswick, Canada) is a major breeding region for these species in Atlantic Canada that has experienced significant changes in recent decades. These ducks depend on natural cavities that form in trees to nest, but they will also use nest boxes when available.
I will be focusing my study on a small tidal marsh called Frenchies Island within the South Arm Marshes of the Fraser River, which has become overrun with an invasive species of cattail. Frenchies, like many tidal marsh islands has had a dike constructed around its perimeter and has therefore been cut off from the natural incoming of water from the tidal cycle, as well as from high flows of the Fraser river.
The intern will be conducting surveys of breeding waterfowl at nine wetlands previously restored by Ducks Unlimited Canada. Wetlands provide abundant ecosystem services and are threatened by modification from environmentally damaging human activities that have reduced their quantity and function. Waterfowl are highly dependent on wetlands for many stages of their lifecycle and Ducks Unlimited Canada helps waterfowl by restoring wetlands.
Prairie wetlands are intricately linked with climate and hydrology. Future climate change, such as warmer conditions, changes in precipitation amount and intermittency, may both benefit and threaten the wetlands over the Canadian Prairies. During the same time, large-scale land use changes have been occurring such as the conversion of natural wetlands to agriculture lands.
The American Black Duck is the most abundant breeding waterfowl species in New Brunswick (NB), and, although previously common throughout New Brunswick (NB), notable declines in breeding black duck abundance have been reported in the commercially forested area of NB in the last 20 years. In NB, forestry operations must maintain >=30m buffers around waterbodies. These areas are important to waterfowl as nesting habitat and as a barrier to sources of disturbance in areas adjacent to wetlands. It is unknown if NBs 30m requirement is adequate to maintain quality black duck habitat.