BSC BioBlitz 2008
Bruce Peninsula National Park,
Bruce Peninsula National Park and the closely associated Fathom Five National Marine Park (http://www.pc.gc.ca/progs/np-pn/index_E.asp; or http://www.castlebluff.com/bffscience/index.html) together comprise an impressively diverse protected area at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula and archipelago. Long famous for its floristic diversity (especially its 43 species of orchids), the Parks are part of the largest remaining area of natural environment in southern Ontario. It offers a variety of easily accessible ecosystems including: alvars, old fields, hardwood forests, mixed forests, conifer forests, cliffs, fens, marshes, swamps, ponds, streams, and lakes. Studies of insect diversity in the Park began in the early 1990s with a study of biodiversity on the islands of Fathom Five National Marine Park (results published in 2001 by S. Marshall, C. Buddle, B. Sinclair, and D. Buckle). Following hot on the heels of that relatively small study, Park ecologist Scott Parker arranged a contract to do extensive insect inventory work in the Bruce Peninsula National Park. Although that contract ended in 2001, I have continued to spend my weekends and holidays on the Peninsula, building up our insect collection and adding further taxa to the Park list. Park insect inventory efforts were further enhanced last summer though another contract awarded to Steven Paiero to initiate an aquatic insect monitoring program in the park (Steve worked with me on the initial Bruce survey, after which he did an extensive arthropod inventory of Ojibway Prairie as his MSc). Thanks largely to ongoing development of the Bruce component of the University of Guelph insect collection, we now have an extensive list of over 3,300 species of insects, regularly updated on the University of Guelph Insect Collection web site: http://www.uoguelph.ca/debu/brucepeninsula.htm.
The rocky shore of Dunks Bay, Bruce Peninsula National Park. (photograph by S.A. Marshall)
The opportunity to engage Canada’s top insect systematists in a BSC BioBlitz on the Bruce represents an opportunity to test and expand the Bruce arthropod inventory. Some groups are relatively poorly handled on our list because some techniques (light traps, for example) have been underutilized; other groups are incompletely treated because nobody involved with the survey has had the specialized taxonomic expertise to deal with them. Treat our list as a challenge, and please help us make it better!
Objectives of the bioblitz:
This will be a bit different from previous BioBlitz efforts because there is a substantial existing inventory, and one of our major objectives is to tap your specialized expertise to make it better. A look at the current species list should give participants a good idea of how close our list is to the expected fauna; if it is short of the mark, please come and fill in the gaps. If it includes some rare things you would like to see, let us try to show you where to look. Many of you identified specimens as part of the original inventory – this is an opportunity to see where they came from. Come and apply your specialized techniques.
In addition to the primary objective of bringing your skills to bear on an advanced arthropod inventory project, we would like to turn this into a positive public relations exercise for both BSC and the Park. We deliberately chose a period when the Park will not be too crowded (before school is out), but you should still be prepared to explain your activities at least on an informal basis to curious park visitors. If you are willing to participate in more formal interpretive activities such as talks, walks, or activities in the interpretive centre, please let us know.
Park Ecologist Scott Parker has kindly offered to help us out with logistics, including the provision of a building and a campsite on Emmett Lake. The building is an old junior ranger station now used as researcher accommodation, and it is private and rustic. For those preferring to camp there is the National Park campground at Cyprus Lake and a variety of nice private campgrounds in the area. Of the latter, I prefer Tobermory Village Campground right on Highway 6 coming in to Tobermory, because you can get campsites backing right into Tobermory Bog (a fantastic place, and the only true bog on the upper Bruce – I have always wanted to camp and night light there). Tobermory also has a wide range of hotels and motels, all likely to have lots of space that early in the season. Once we have a better idea of how many people are coming, and how many want to be based at Emmett Lake, we can make arrangements for evening get-togethers and suggested group collecting events. I will be based at a cottage in Tobermory.
Bits and pieces:
You will need a vehicle, as the Emmett Lake cabin is well off the beaten track and most good collecting sites are widely separated.
Scott Parker has also offered to provide some boat drop off/pick ups to the islands. This is weather permitting and requires prearrangement.
All specimens must be retained in a recognized institution, and technically remain Parks Canada property. It would be most helpful if specimens or identifications linked to detailed specimen information could be provide to us for deposition in the University of Guelph Insect Collection or inclusion in the Bruce Arthropod Database. I will coordinate a Parks Canada research and collection permit that includes all participants.
Send me your email address if you want to be kept informed as our plans gel a bit more, and the sooner you can confirm your participation the sooner those plans will gel.
For more information or to register please contact:
Department of Environmental Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1; 519-824-4120, x 52720; firstname.lastname@example.org
Marshall, S.A., C. Buddle, B. Sinclair, and D. Buckle. 2001. Spiders, flies and some other arthropods of the Fathom Five Islands and the upper Bruce Peninsula, pp. 191-229. In: S. Parker and M. Munawar (eds.) Ecology, Culture and Conservation of a Protected Area: Fathom Five National Marine Park, Canada. Backhuys, Leiden, The Netherlands.