By Emma Lehmberg and Cassandra Robillard
Did you know that the Canadian Museum of Nature not only houses the most extensive collections of Canadian flora and fauna, but also works to conserve local land?
The Environmental Monitoring Program (EMP) was established to study and protect the property surrounding the museum’s research and collections facility, called the Natural Heritage Building, in the Aylmer sector of Gatineau, Québec. Seventy-six hectares of mixed wetland, lowland and upland forest have been protected from large-scale development.
This entails a number of activities, including hydrogeological surveys (to understand groundwater movement), biological surveys, property maintenance, and acting as a liaison between the museum and the local community with regard to environmental issues on and near the property.
This summer, we are proud to introduce ourselves as this year’s EMP field team: Emma Lehmberg and Cassandra Robillard. We’re both students with a love of biology and enthusiasm for educating others about the natural world. Over the next few months, it will be our focus to spearhead the program’s various projects for the season.
Current Projects for 2012
Running guided tours of the property for fellow staff members and groups such as natural-history clubs and biology classes. We’ll demonstrate the kind of work that we do in the field, while teaching them about the local plants, habitats and wildlife. We also hope to establish an outdoor information network that will allow self-guided nature interpretation of a previously established trail network.
Preparing a web page on the Environmental Monitoring Program for the museum’s web site, nature.ca.
Looking at ways to deal with European glossy buckthorn (Frangula alnus), an invasive non-native shrub that is a serious threat to native forests. We’ll also surveying for ticks in the interest of the health and safety of people on the property.
We are also excited about the possibility of participating in the Barcode of Life (BOL) project. This is an international initiative to sequence the DNA of all known multicellular species for the purpose of future molecular identification of unknown specimens.
Our aim is to compile a collection of specimens that represent the full diversity of plant species in the area around the research and collections facility, and hopefully submit these to the BOL project for DNA sequencing and coding. Many specimens have been collected in past EMP initiatives, and we hope to fill in the gaps with field collections of our own, including specimens of mosses.
As the summer progresses, we will certainly be busy doing all of these things, and maybe much more! And because we love to share our work, we hope that we’ll be able to share that with you.