August 5th, 2015 – Wetland Survey and Preliminary Data Collection-Team Dryad’s Saddle
Blog Entry Written by Team: Team Dryad’s Saddle (Polyporous squamosus)
Team Members: Derek Newton (Queen’s), Lanxue Qin (Tongji), Kangnan Xing (BNU), Wenyang Lyu (D’overbroecks)
Weather: Partly Cloudy, Sunny in morning with some light showers in the mid-afternoon 18-23°C
We began the morning with a briefing in the basement lecture hall at QUBS. Professor Wang, Professor Lougheed, as well as all the other students gave us feedback on our plans for our wetland survey and assessment. The class discussed and critiqued all of the groups plans, and we then drove out to survey out wetland. We had been give Beaver Marsh, that had a small pool of water, surrounded by vast heterogeneous grasses and sedges. We learned that there was a small meandering creek that ran through our wetland, the remnant of a once large shallow marsh that was created when beavers built a dam to block the creeks flow. When we arrived the beavers had long departed, and the dam was in ruin. The water was flowing, unhindered, and although the ground was moist and muddy, much of the water had dried up. The shallow creek remained a refuge for a variety of amphibians, small fish, snails, and dense macrophytes. We saw multiple leopard and green frogs leaping, as well many colourful dragonflies fly through the air. With the help of Wenxi, we build a bridge to cross the broken beaver dam to make our surveying in the afternoon easier (true ecosystem engineers!!).
While driving back to lunch at QUBS, along the side of the road we saw two deer and a fawn. That was not the only family out, as four large turkeys blocked our path. They did, however, have one additional member. A duck had decided that he would join them, and the turkeys seemed fine to have him tag along. We also made a stop to talk to some fishermen who said they were fishing for bass along Telephone Bay.
After lunch, we headed back to Beaver Marsh, travelling past the graveyard by Opinicon road and through the open pasture home the various QUBS research bird houses, and through a heavily wooded path. As we arrive on the Canadian Shield Bedrock outcropping on the edge of our marsh we decide to survey the edges of the pond for freshwater snail abundance, as well as clusters of Typha to measure their density. We then walked back through the heterogeneous landscape once again, before being driven back to QUBS for dinner.
During the evening, we had the pleasure to listen to a lecture presented by Julia Colm of Queen’s University and hear about her work on grass pickerel (Esox americanus vermiculatus) and their ecology. Although abundant in the U.S., east of the Appalachians, the grass pickerel is declining in Ontario, even though very tolerant to both warm (22-23 °C), hypoxic, and heavily polluted waters, it has paradoxically declined in numbers in south-eastern Ontario. They are very lethargic and slow moving, and like lots of vegetation coverage. An ideal wetland species, but yet still not present in expected frequencies in rivers. Julia Colm present the hypothesis, that in contrast to historical data around Jones Creek in 1960, the decline observed recently (2014) may have been due to increased beaver activity, preventing migration of fish to ideal spawning sites, in combination with severe and more frequent droughts.