BioBlitz at Murphys Point

Ontario’s provincial parks are home to a diverse array of plants and animals. What better way to take a snapshot of this amazing biodiversity than through a BioBlitz?

Murphys Point Provincial Park hosted its very own BioBlitz on June 10-11, 2017.

The 24-hour event brought staff and volunteers together to explore and catalogue the park’s natural species.

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Snapping Turtles

Today’s post comes from David LeGros, a Natural Heritage Education Specialist at Algonquin Provincial Park.

I spent most of my youth in rubber boots and obsessed with nature. I was always looking for interesting animals and plants.

There are a few creatures then, just like now, that always inspire me.

Top of my list: the Snapping Turtle.

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Calling all citizen scientists: come to the Killarney Butterfly Count

For the 19th year in a row, Killarney Provincial Park is hosting its Annual Butterfly Count.

And if you’re heading to Killarney on July 8, 2017, we’d like your help!

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Guess how many bee species call Ontario home?

When we think of bees, we often picture Honey Bees. We imagine a swarm buzzing around a honeycomb hive.

But the Honey Bee is just one of 400 different types of bees in Ontario (and we’re discovering new bee species all the time!).

And Honey Bees aren’t even a native species.

In fact, Honey Bees are relatively new to Ontario. They were an agricultural import, brought to North America for honey production and crop pollination. Before Honey Bees crossed the ocean, Ontario’s major pollinators were native bees, whose behaviour is often very different from the stereotypical honey bees.

Here are five other types of bee buzzing around our parks:

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What’s a bioblitz?

Today’s post comes from Martha Martens, a Natural Heritage Education leader from Killbear Provincial Park.

I’ll admit: when I first heard the word “bioblitz,” I was confused. What does this strange word mean?

It might be helpful to break the word down in order to understand: “bio” means “life” and “blitz” means a  “sudden, energetic, and concerted effort, typically on a specific task.”

So a bioblitz is a brief period of time, usually 24 hours, that experts and amateurs come together to specifically record all nature sightings in a given area. All the records are compiled into a single data set of the biodiversity of that location at that point in time.

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Does the darkness need our protection?

Today’s post comes from our Natural Heritage Education Coordinator Brad Steinberg.

Not many researchers like being kept in the dark…

…except, that is, for scotobiologists!

Scotobiology is the science of darkness, a research topic that is growing in importance. Many birds, amphibians, insects and plants (and us!) have evolved to rely on uninterrupted periods of darkness during the night.

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The beaver: architect of biodiversity

Ontario Parks is recognizing iconic Canadian species this year to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. Next up, we join Natural Heritage Education Specialist Dave Sproule for a chat about the ecological and cultural significance of the beaver, which became Canada’s official symbol in 1975.

We all know beavers are industrious. They builds dams, canals and sturdy homes called lodges, which are warm in winter. They repair all those dams and collect enough food to survive long northern winters.

We know beavers are well-suited to the Canadian environment. Beavers are amphibious – more at home in the water than on land — with webbed hind feet, nostrils that can close, a third see-through eyelid that protects the eye when they’re underwater, and a big flat tail that acts as rudder while swimming.

The biggest reason to celebrate the beaver during Canada150, however, is that the beaver built Canada, shaping both its historical and ecological landscape.

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Chilling out by the lake: arctic-alpine disjunct plants along Lake Superior

Today’s post comes from Park Naturalist Lesley Ng of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.

Did you know there are blooming beauties which are adapted for the arctic tundra or alpine environments? In short, they like it cold!

And we don’t need traverse tundra or climb mountains to see them. We just need to take a spring hike along Lake Superior’s shoreline.

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Bumble Bee conservation volunteer opportunity at Pinery and Awenda

Today’s post comes from Hayley Tompkins and Sarah Johnson, biologists with Wildlife Preservation Canada’s Native Pollinator Initiative.  

Calling all nature lovers! If you’re available June 24-25, 2017, we have a great program to help conserve pollinators that you can be a part of!

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April is for beaver-watching at Algonquin

One of the best parts about spring is that it offers some of the best viewing opportunities for two of Algonquin Provincial Park’s most famous mammals.

May has become famous for moose watching in Algonquin but April is prime time for viewing its smaller, toothier associate, the beaver.

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