Public Outreach: Wetland Ecosystems Talk at St. Edmund Elementary/ Junior High School

Last week, Logan McLeod and myself travelled to St. Edmund Elementary/ Junior High School to give a presentation on wetland ecosystems to the grade 5 students. The students learned about wetlands, including the differences between wetland classes and what kinds of flora and fauna can be found in these habitats. We also introduced the students to our work with bioacoustics and had them identify some of the vocalizations of common wetland species. The talk ended in a brief meet and greet with three tiger salamanders, which we had brought along to show the students. The students took in a huge amount of information on wetland ecosystems and left the presentation ready to go explore the local wetlands in our city. One step to conserving our wetlands is understanding their value by experiencing them first hand.

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Text by Natasha Annich, photos by Christina Panizzon, grade 5 teacher at St. Edmund Elementary/Junior High school.

An Ode to the Boreal Forest

This week, PhD student Julia Shonfield wrote a blog post for Dispatches from the Field about her experience doing field work over multiple seasons in the boreal forest. The boreal forest covers a huge area in Canada, yet many Canadians don’t really know too much about how incredibly varied this ecosystem is or what it’s like to work there. Check it out on Dispatches from the Field. Each week you can tune in to that website to find out what field work is really like.

The Joys of Winter Fieldwork

Over the past couple weeks a number of students in the Bayne lab have headed out to deploy some autonomous recording units as part of bioacoustic monitoring for several projects this year in northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories. Although it really feels like spring has arrived in Edmonton, it is still very wintery further north. For many of them it was their first experience with winter field work, and there were some pretty challenging snow and weather conditions. I’ve done several years of winter field work myself, first with the Kluane Red Squirrel project for my master’s, and most recently conducting acoustic surveys for owls for my PhD work. Winter field work can be extremely challenging, but can also be really enjoyable, so here are some of my favourite joys of winter field work:

 

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The incredible stillness of walking through a forest in the winter.

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That wonderful feeling of floating on top of the snow when there’s a solid crust.

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Hoarfrost coating everything on a chilly morning.

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Eerie winter sunlight straining through the clouds.

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Seeing exactly where an animal walked: coyote tracks in the snow.

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When the local residents follow you around, gray jays will often do this.

Photos and text by Julia Shonfield.

Student research featured in Society of Canadian Ornithologists bulletin: Do Canada Warblers use forest stands altered by timber harvesting?

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Bayne lab M.Sc. student Anjolene Hunt’s research on ‘Habitat use of Canada Warblers in an extensively managed forest landscape’ has been featured in the March issue of Picoides, the bulletin of the Society of Canadian Ornithologists. Read her 2015 James L. Baillie Award Report to learn about preliminary results.

Field Fun Friday

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A lynx spotted on a trail camera set up by Darcy Doran-Myers in the Yukon.

In the clip below, two of our collared lynx, M02 (aka “Dan” – male, left) and F02 (aka “Furiosa” – female, right), were having a confrontation on a snowmobile trail in the Yukon. These two collared lynx were seen on Jan 26, 2016, where F02 wandered into an area normally occupied by M02. For over half an hour M02 was seen following F02 and had one previous shouting match. Given the season, this was likely a dispute over territory with M02 being annoyed with F02’s presence rather than an amorous male and an unreceptive female. However, M02 might want to learn to pick his fights a bit better in the future.

Post by Kevin Chan. If you want to see a higher-quality version, check out Kevin’s original post.

2016 Internship on Elk in Ya Ha Tinda

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HIRING IMMEDIATELY:  We seek an intern to participate in the CICan Clean Tech Internship Program (http://cleantech.collegesinstitutes.ca/). The successful intern will assist in investigating the decline of the partially-migratory Ya Ha Tinda elk herd in and adjacent to Banff National Park (see http://yahatinda.biology.ualberta.ca/ for more information).

 

This phase of our long-term research is to understand cause-specific mortality for elk calves as a result of maternal behavioural trade-offs made in terms of foraging and predation risk (wolves, bears, mountain lions and coyotes). The intern will use radio telemetry to monitor adult females for parturition behavior, assist in capture and tagging of elk calves, subsequently monitor both calves and adults, and complete a final report.  The position will also include, but is not limited to, investigating elk calf mortality sites, behavioural observations, vegetation sampling, pellet plot surveys, remote camera surveys, and predator scat surveys using scat detection dogs.

 

The study area straddles the boundary between Banff National Park and provincial land, in and around the beautiful Ya Ha Tinda ranch, Parks Canada’s working horse ranch, west of Sundre, AB.  AT THE RANCH, THERE IS NO CELL PHONE SERVICE AND ONLY LIMITED INTERNET. THE CLOSEST TOWN (Sundre) IS 1.5 HOURS AWAY. The position available is a 6-month CICan Clean Tech Internship (http://cleantech.collegesinstitutes.ca/) that will pay ~$2800/mo. including benefits.

 

CALVING PERIOD (mid-May to mid-June): Shared housing is provided for project staff in the form of tent camping with a cabin/wall tent for cooking/eating or shared rooms in the research house.  Trips to town, hot showers, and laundry are FEW and FAR BETWEEN.  Weather during calving can be anywhere from COLD, wet, rainy, and SNOWY to hot and sunny.  Because we are essentially “on-call” to catch calves as quickly as possible when born, days are LONG with VERY LITTLE TO NO TIME OFF.  I do TRY to make up for this before/after the peak of calving, but no guarantees.  Because we are working long days, we eat group meals and have a camp cook who takes care of all shopping and cooking, so I typically ask that paid technicians contribute $50/week for food during those weeks.

POST-CALVING: Shared rooms in the research house provided; the house is also used by Parks Canada wardens and others unrelated to the project, so we have to be very considerate and mindful of our presence.  Work schedules are somewhat flexible, usually either 10/4 or 5/2.  Summers can be hot, WINDY, and full of FLIES.  Primary duties include monitoring the calves each day, herd classifications, and habitat measurements.

 

Applicants MUST meet the following qualifications:

  • The intern cannot be over 30 years old.
  • The intern must be a graduate of a post-secondary institution.
  • The intern must be a Canadian Citizen, have permanent Canadian residency status, or have been granted refugee status in Canada and legally entitled to work in Canada.
  • The intern must possess a valid, non-graduated Class 5 Canadian driver’s license.
  • Physically able to carry a heavy daypack while hiking 8-10 hrs. in mountainous terrain and grizzly bear country, even in inclement weather and colder temperatures.
  • 2)  Ability to navigate and work independently in remote/rural areas using a GPS, map, and compass
  • FLEXIBILITY; ability to maintain a POSITIVE attitude while working and living closely with co-workers; ability to work long hours and odd schedules.

 

Hiring decisions will be made immediately. Please email Jodi Berg at jberg@ualberta.ca:

1)   A cover letter that explicitly addresses EACH of the following:

  • why you are interested in working on the YHT Elk Project
  • how you meet EACH of the qualifications listed above

2)   Your resume/CV

3)   Email addresses for three references that can speak to your ability to conduct yourself in the field and work as part of a team