Construction is almost finished on an interpretative display that will focus on educating visitors about the role of forest fires in traditional indigenous culture and in sustaining the red and white pine populations. The exhibit will update an aged interpretive display at the Dawson Trail Campground. The Friends of Quetico and the Quetico Foundation are working together to financially support this important project.
by: Dr. Michael Rennie, Canada Research Chair in Freshwater Ecology and Fisheries Assistant Professor
Quetico Provincial Park has been described as a ‘natural oasis’; with all the things going on in the world, in Quetico, you can get in a canoe, traverse a few portages, and the outside world quickly melts away leaving just you and nature. Unfortunately, even in this relatively untouched oasis, unwanted visitors have begun to appear. Several aquatic invasive species now inhabit various lakes in the park, with the most prominent and widely distributed likely being the spiny water flea (or Bythotrephes to us scientists, which is the genus that these organisms belong to).
by Katie Tripp and Kelsey Atalise
Although this year had a shorter than normal season, a lot was accomplished by the biologist assistant crew. They assisted with four main projects this season; assessed lake trout vulnerability to climate change, identified the location of Spiny Water flea, an invasive species in Quetico’s lakes with a Lakehead graduate student working with Dr. Michael Rennie under the Quetico Foundation grant. They also assess the recovery and regeneration of conifer stands after a fire that occurred in the park and helped former biology intern Jared Stachiw, collecting data for his master’s thesis based in Quetico on Red Pine ecology.
Monitoring the diversity and abundance of forest birds and their changes through time is part of assessing the ecological condition of an area. Within Quetico Provincial Park, a long-term monitoring program using equipment that records bird songs at permanent sample plots was established in 2014 to monitor songbirds in specific habitats. The data resulting from these efforts will contribute to broader programs that aim to assess the ecological integrity of Quetico Provincial Park and other areas in northwest Ontario.
The purpose of this report is to provide a summary of the data collected between the years 2014 and 2019 and identify broad patterns of bird-habitat association for the ecosites monitored in Quetico Provincial Park.
JOB POSTING – 2020 Research Field Team Program
Position: Research Field Team Lead (Assistant to the Park Biologist)
Location: Quetico Provincial Park, Atikokan ON, P0T 1C0
Length of Employment: 16 weeks – early May to the end of August
Application Deadline: March 2, 2020 or when position is filled
Position Description: This is a 16 week summer employment opportunity funded by The Quetico Foundation from the Margery J. Warren bequest, to provide a student in a field sciences or natural resource related undergraduate or graduate program with an opportunity to gain valuable experience in their chosen field. The successful candidate will lead a small field team under the direction of the Park Biologist assisting with the collection and analysis of ecological field data in a wilderness environment. Considerable time will be spent in the field in canoe accessible backcountry locations for extended periods. Rate of pay will be ($20 per hour). Accommodation is available at the Quetico Provincial Park Staff House for $25 per week. Camping gear is provided, and food expenses incurred while on backcountry work trips are reimbursed.
Field work may include ecological monitoring in support of the long term ecological monitoring framework for the Park such as setting up remote data collection devices (song meters, cameras, and temperature loggers), fire history data sampling, fish population and aquatic ecosystem assessment, and vegetation community monitoring. Additional work may include collection of habitat data, invasive species surveys, and bathymetric surveys.
Responsibilities as a team leader include, backcountry trip planning, following field safety and communications protocols, making day to day navigational, work planning and safety decisions in the field and supporting an inclusive and positive team environment.
Office work for the Research Field Team Lead will depend on the experience of the individual and may include a variety of backcountry canoe trip planning, scheduling, analytical work, identification, report writing and data entry as well as administrative tasks.
Bats (bapakwaanaajiinh in Anishinaabemowin) are an important component of biodiversity, particularly as a
voracious insect predator. Five species of bat have been reported in Quetico, including three species of
migratory bats – Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinerius), Silver-haired Bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans) and Eastern Red Bat(Lasiurus borealis) as well as two non-migratory species – Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus) and Little Brown Myotis (Myotis lucifugus). In addition, Northern Myotis (Myotis septentrionalis), another non-migratory species, has been confirmed immediately north of Quetico but has not been identified from within the Park. However very little is known about their population status or habitat use in the Quetico Provincial Park.
Due to the high risk of White-nose Syndrome (WNS), non-migratory species which hibernate in colonies such as Little Brown Myotis and Northern Myotis have been classed as Endangered in Ontario. White-nose Syndrome is caused by a cold and damp-loving fungus (Pseudogumnoascus destrutcans) that causes a skin infection in bats. Discomfort from the infection causes hibernating bats to wake up more frequently during the winter when food and water is not available, causes bats to dehydrate and use up fat reserves prematurely, often resulting in death. Initially identified in North America in the winter of 2006-07, White-nose Syndrome was first observed in northwestern Ontario during 2014-2015 and has expanded across the region since then.
The purpose of this project was to determine the presence and abundance of Species At Risk bats (i.e. Little Brown Myotis (Myotis lucifugus) and potentially Northern Myotis (Myotis septentrionalis)) relative to other bat species in Quetico Provincial Park. and compare distribution of identified bat species along survey route.
A plant or animal is considered a Species at Risk when it is in danger of being either extirpated (disappearing from an area it currently occupies) or becoming extinct. Species can also be considered of “Special Concern” if their populations are threatened, for example by significant loss of habitat. Species within Quetico Provincial Park that are listed as Species at Risk are protected under the Endangered Species Act and Provincial Park policies. The QPP Biologist assesses and monitors these species to develop management strategies that will support their habitat and existence in the Park.
Within Quetico Park there are bird, fish, reptile, and mammal species that are being monitored to help with their recovery or to prevent them from becoming further at risk. Quetico Foundation summer employees have assisted with long-term monitoring of several Species at Risk within Quetico, and their work has contributed to understanding of these species’ populations and determining what management actions need to occur to protect these important species.
Through nighttime acoustic bat surveys Quetico Foundation staff have worked to understand the populations of endangered bat species in Quetico. Non-migrating species of bat within the park are currently facing threats from White Nose Syndrome.
In mid-June the Quetico Park Biology team (Park Biologist Brian Jackson and the Assistant Biologists Jared Walter Stachiw and Cat Langillle) along with QPP Information Specialist Jill Legault surveyed the red pine forest stands along Agnes and Kawnipi Lakes for fire-scarred tree samples. When a fire injures a tree, it creates a scar at the base of the tree referred to as a fire scar. Fire scars record the exact year and season that a fire occurred, which allows us to figure out how many times fire happened in an area. Fire is a natural and necessary process in Quetico’s forests and provides opportunity for regeneration of pine species and rejuvenation of available nutrients in the soil (to name just a couple of the numerous positive impacts of fire in Quetico’s forests).
As an assistant biologist in Quetico Provincial Park for the last three years, working on
behalf of the Quetico Foundation, it has been both my job and my pleasure to collect
scientific data in the remote wilderness of Quetico. The work I have done has been
varied, including vegetation surveys, bat monitoring, and dendrochronology, which has
provided me with innumerable, invaluable experience in my career path. The work done
by the assistant biologist supports the efforts of Quetico Park’s biologist to manage this
wilderness area with the primary goal of maintaining and/or increasing ecological
integrity. Being able to support this endeavour has given me immense personal
satisfaction as I feel like I am helping to manage this rugged corner of Canada that I
have fallen in love with.