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Learning From Fire: Studying Ecosystem Recovery Following Parry Sound 33

Learning From Fire: Studying Ecosystem Recovery Following Parry Sound 33

The Parry Sound 33 (PS33) wildfire burned over 11,000 hectares of the eastern Georgian Bay landscape between mid July and the end of October 2018. In the years since the fire, researchers from the McMaster University Ecohydrology Lab have been measuring burn severity and tracking ecosystem recovery at several sites in the Georgian Bay Biosphere, including ...
eDNA: Learning From the Molecule That’s Always Left Behind

eDNA: Learning From the Molecule That’s Always Left Behind

Think of the last time you went for a swim. Before walking away from the shore, you probably gathered up all your things: your towel, sandals, sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, and perhaps a book or magazine. Yet despite your careful attention there was still something you left behind. Did you know you left some of your ...
Weird and Whacky Water Wonders!

Weird and Whacky Water Wonders!

Georgian Bay and the surrounding inland lakes and rivers are full of wonderful surprises. Every summer we receive emails from residents and visitors with questions about the interesting things they see in the water. For this month’s blog post, we have compiled a list of some of the water wonders that we are most commonly ...
Turtles in Trouble & How You Can Help

Turtles in Trouble & How You Can Help

Here at the Biosphere, we love hearing uplifting stories about sightings of species at risk! Lots of Biosphere residents see turtles on a regular basis during the summer months. There are six species of turtles found in the Georgian Bay Biosphere. Sadly, all six species are listed as “species at risk” by the Federal Species at ...
The Spiny Water Flea: The Tiny Zooplankton Creating Big Problems

The Spiny Water Flea: The Tiny Zooplankton Creating Big Problems

Georgian Bay is well known for producing trophy-sized fish, but the smaller inhabitants of the waters are often overlooked. Zooplankton are small aquatic animals that make up part of what is referred to as the lower food web of Georgian Bay. This month we take a closer look at one zooplankton in particular, the spiny ...
The Very Hungry (LDD Moth) Caterpillar

The Very Hungry (LDD Moth) Caterpillar

If you have been outside recently exploring the trails in your area or just getting out in your yard, you have probably encountered numerous caterpillars and their handiwork. These are LDD caterpillars, also called gypsy moth caterpillars. LDD moth caterpillars defoliating trees The LDD moth (whose acronym arises from its Latin name Lymantria dispar dispar) originates in ...
Spring Signals Spawning Season

Spring Signals Spawning Season

With air temperatures on the rise, it won’t be long before maple sap isn’t the only thing running. Each spring, as the ice on our lakes and rivers goes out, a number of fish species begin their spawning runs. Many people in the region are familiar with the spawning runs of rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax) ...
On Thin Ice: Trends and Implications for Great Lakes Ice Cover

On Thin Ice: Trends and Implications for Great Lakes Ice Cover

Whether you skate on it, ice fish through it, or you simply take in its sights and sounds, ice is worth celebrating. For those who live in the Georgian Bay Biosphere, ice cover is important to our economy, recreation, as well as to native species and their habitats. But what happens if we start to ...
Stalking sturgeon, tracking trout: acoustic telemetry reveals fish on the move!

Stalking sturgeon, tracking trout: acoustic telemetry reveals fish on the move!

Have you ever wondered how far a lake sturgeon travels in a year? Where lake trout spend their winters? Or where lake whitefish go to spawn? If you have, you are not alone. Researchers across the Great Lakes basin have been asking similar questions for decades. More recently, they have had the help of some ...
Uncovering Mysteries of the Ancient Lake Sturgeon

Uncovering Mysteries of the Ancient Lake Sturgeon

Last month we introduced you to lake sturgeon, the gentle giants of the Great Lakes. Although they have been around for a long time (think more than 200 million years!), there is still a lot to be learned about lake sturgeon habitat preferences, movements, behaviour, and much more. This month we’ll explore some examples of ...
Lake Sturgeon: Giants of the Great Lakes

Lake Sturgeon: Giants of the Great Lakes

If you have been lucky enough to see a lake sturgeon in the flesh, you have had the privilege of laying eyes on Ontario’s largest and longest-lived freshwater fish. These gentle giants were once abundant in the Great Lakes. Today, their populations are only a fraction of what they used to be. In fact, the ...
Fishing for facts: how is the Round Goby so successful?

Fishing for facts: how is the Round Goby so successful?

Most of us have heard of the Round Goby (Neogobius melanostomus). Some of us might also know it’s an invasive species. Beyond that, however, your knowledge of the Round Goby may be a little like your knowledge of quarks: they’re something you’ve heard of, you know they’re important, but you couldn’t write more than a ...
Tick Check!

Tick Check!

Whether you are an avid hiker or just enjoy getting outdoors for some fresh air every now and then, you have probably been advised to “do a tick check” after spending time outdoors. Chances are you have a general idea of what ticks are and why you wouldn’t want any on your body, but in ...
Asian Carps: Avoiding Potential Invaders

Asian Carps: Avoiding Potential Invaders

Imagine: it’s a beautiful sunny day to go boating. You hop in, start the engine, and begin cruising through the still water. Suddenly, large, thrashing silver fish are throwing themselves from the water. Fish are flying everywhere! They land in your boat, flop madly around and turn a relaxing ride into a dangerous situation for ...
Is This Predator Too E-fish-ent for its Own Good?

Is This Predator Too E-fish-ent for its Own Good?

One of the most efficient marine predators is found right here in the Georgian Bay Biosphere region, as well as in lakes and waterways across Ontario. This animal has eyes perfectly developed for seeing its prey underwater. Unlike our human eyes, which have inflexible lenses that simply cannot change shape well enough to make a ...
Indigenous Fire (Shkode) Keeping and Land Management

Indigenous Fire (Shkode) Keeping and Land Management

Using fire as land management has been a practice for many Indigenous groups across the world. The Anishinaabe use fire (shkode) as a way of influencing the land and restoring ecosystems. Blueberries and other species thrive after fire burns competing vegetation and releases nutrients, creating better growing conditions and abundant harvests.  However, there has been a ...
Zebra and Quagga Mussels: Georgian Bay’s Filter-Feeding Invaders

Zebra and Quagga Mussels: Georgian Bay’s Filter-Feeding Invaders

Zebra and quagga mussels can seem less like an invasive species and more like an invasive surface. The two mussels, sometimes collectively referred to as dreissenid mussels, are famous for coating lake bottoms, rocks, docks, and boats in sharp, pointed clusters. In this blog post, we’re taking a closer look at zebra and quagga mussels, ...
Eurasian Water-Milfoil: A Closer Look at an Invasive Plant

Eurasian Water-Milfoil: A Closer Look at an Invasive Plant

When we think of invasive species in the Great Lakes basin, aquatic animals often jump to mind: zebra mussels coating a lake bottom, sea lamprey boring holes in fish, Asian carp leaping out of the water in droves as boats travel through waterways. Invasive plant species, however, can be just as impactful on ecosystems as ...
State of the Bay Conference a Success

State of the Bay Conference a Success

On November 19, 2019 GBBR held its first State of the Bay Conference at the Charles W. Stockey Centre in Parry Sound. Approximately 100 people were in attendance to hear about the latest research and monitoring findings on water quality, the lower food web, and fish communities. Attendees heard from knowledgeable presenters representing various government ...
Sea Lamprey 2.0: How We Prevent History from Repeating Itself

Sea Lamprey 2.0: How We Prevent History from Repeating Itself

In last month’s blog post, we dove into how the invasive sea lamprey entered the Great Lakes System, and the catastrophic effect they had on fish populations. While we touched on how rigorous control methods have reduced sea lamprey populations by up to 90 percent, going into exactly how sea lamprey control is done is ...
Learning from History: The Sea Lamprey Legacy of the Great Lakes

Learning from History: The Sea Lamprey Legacy of the Great Lakes

In 1919, improvements were made to the Welland Canal, a waterway that connects Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. The improvements widened the canal and allowed large ships to travel between the two; a feat that until then had been made impossible by Niagara Falls. With an effective connection between Lake Ontario and the rest of ...
State of the Bay Conference 2019

State of the Bay Conference 2019

The Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve invites you to attend the State of the Bay Conference being held on November 19, 2019 at the Charles W. Stockey Centre in Parry Sound! This conference presents the latest research and monitoring findings on water quality, lower food web, and fish communities. The objectives of the conference are to inform ...
Climate Change: Impacts on our Economy and our Health

Climate Change: Impacts on our Economy and our Health

We are currently in a climate crisis. The world’s leading scientists have determined that greenhouse gases from human activity are causing the global climate to change and environmental changes are evident all the way to the local level. More on this at: https://www.stateofthebay.ca/the-ripple-effects-of-climate-change/ While the environmental issues caused by a changing climate are of great concern, ...
Microbes in the Bay: A Deep Dive into Algae

Microbes in the Bay: A Deep Dive into Algae

We all know what algae is. We see it every summer in our lakes and rivers, whether it be as floating mats, delicate strands, or something to slip on getting into the water. Algae may seem like a nuisance to some, but these microorganisms are vitally important. They are at the base of our food ...
The Aftermath of Parry Sound 33

The Aftermath of Parry Sound 33

Last summer the Parry Sound 33 (PS33) forest fire swept the northern coast of the biosphere region, starting at Henvey Inlet First Nation and spreading to surrounding areas. Reaching almost 12,000 hectares, it was a force that left people worried for not only their homes, but for the plants and animals that also inhabit those ...
A Closer Look at Algae

A Closer Look at Algae

Algae is a summer constant, and a constant source of worry for many cottagers. The presence of algae in the Georgian Bay area is often seen as a sign that something is wrong. Whether it be a faulty septic system, or phosphorus pollution, people worry that the algae they are seeing are the result of ...
What is Polluting our Water?

What is Polluting our Water?

You’ve probably heard of the legacy of DDT and its effects on species such as the bald eagle. When this chemical was being produced and actively used in the mid 1900s, the eagles were poisoned when they consumed the contaminated fish. In turn, this chemical interfered with the birds’ ability to produce strong eggshells. As a result, their eggs had ...
Is Chloride Contaminating our Bay?

Is Chloride Contaminating our Bay?

When salt from our roads makes its way into the Bay or inland lakes, the salt dissolves into two separate ions – sodium and chloride. Chloride is a greater threat to aquatic ecosystem health.
How does Road Salt Affect our Ecosystem?

How does Road Salt Affect our Ecosystem?

With our cold Northern Ontario winters comes icy roads and consequently, road salt. Trucks travel up and down the highways spitting out these pellets of sodium and magnesium chloride hoping to melt some of the ice build-up. But what are the effects of this salty solution on our ecosystems? Are there any alternatives?
The Ripple Effects of Climate Change

The Ripple Effects of Climate Change

The world’s leading scientists have stated that humans are causing the climate to change. By increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, we have raised the global temperature by 1°C since the industrial revolution. The new IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report released earlier this year urges us to keep global warming ...
Nutrients Nearshore vs Offshore: What's the Difference?

Nutrients Nearshore vs Offshore: What’s the Difference?

Georgian Bay is a nearly 15,000 square kilometers, making it almost the same size of Lake Ontario! Consequently, it is hard to study the Bay as one whole body of water. To understand water quality we use two regions of focus: the nearshore and the offshore.
Endangered Species on the Rise

Endangered Species on the Rise

Monarch Butterfly. Eastern Foxsnakes. Massasauga Rattlesnakes. Whip-poor-will. Bald Eagle. Blanding’s Turtle. Little Brown Bat. Lake Sturgeon. What do all of these species have in common? Not only are they iconic species that we can find in our Biosphere, but all of these are also species at risk of extinction. Eastern Georgian Bay is home to over ...
Climate Change in Georgian Bay – Part 2: Many Ways to Reduce Our Carbon Footprint

Climate Change in Georgian Bay – Part 2: Many Ways to Reduce Our Carbon Footprint

Georgian Bay is warming, our local food web is collapsing, and invasive species are on the rise. With each passing decade, we make the ecosystems upon which we depend more vulnerable. Isn’t it time we stopped putting so much carbon dioxide into our own atmosphere? The most powerful computers on earth show that warmer winters in ...
Climate Change in Georgian Bay – Part 1

Climate Change in Georgian Bay – Part 1

Since the Industrial Revolution, when we began burning coal and then oil, people have been changing the planet’s climate. According to NASA and the world’s scientists, burning fossil fuels and other human activities has increased the carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million in the last ...
A Connected Landscape is Necessary for Healthy Ecosystems

A Connected Landscape is Necessary for Healthy Ecosystems

When the United Nations launched the World Network of Biosphere Reserves in 1970, one of its main goals was to conserve landscapes, ecosystems, individual species and genetic variation. Core protected areas within a biosphere reserve, such as national and provincial parks, provide the physical space—or ecosystems—species need to thrive. In eastern Georgian Bay, we have ...
How Are The Fish of Georgian Bay?

How Are The Fish of Georgian Bay?

One of the best ways to study the state of Georgian Bay is to look at the fish community, and specifically whether each species of fish is naturally reproducing – or if the population is declining. Fish are a useful indicator of aquatic ecosystem health because they reflect changes in nutrients, prey availability, water quality and ...
Food Web Connects Us All

Food Web Connects Us All

Many of us love hearing the call of a loon or seeing a majestic bald eagle. These species are the top of the food chain, relying on a healthy diet of fish. But what feeds the fish that they eat? Scientists are researching what they call “the lower food web” in Georgian Bay, and we can ...
Wetland Habitat Facing Change

Wetland Habitat Facing Change

The home of the great blue heron, feeding grounds for rattlesnakes and fox snakes, and breeding habitats for numerous amphibians are all being threatened. These are the coastal wetlands of Georgian Bay and they are essential to a healthy environment. Unfortunately, wetlands across the world are at risk from shoreline modifications invasive species and from ...
Phosphorus Levels in Georgian Bay are Going Down

Phosphorus Levels in Georgian Bay are Going Down

Think about what makes life possible under water. Phosphorus is the “food” that microscopic plants and animals need to survive. As the foundation of our food web in Georgian Bay, phosphorus is an important nutrient for us to measure when we study the health of our ecosystem. You can imagine that there wouldn’t be many ...
Biosphere Releases State of the Bay Ecosystem Health Report 2018

Biosphere Releases State of the Bay Ecosystem Health Report 2018

Do you ever wonder about the state of Georgian Bay? How is the water and habitat for wildlife and fish? How is climate change affecting the Parry Sound area? In 2008, conservation groups asked the same questions and launched a research program that led to the first “State of the Bay” report in 2013 to help ...