Hunting the Urban Diatom in Vancouver, B.C. (Part 2)

This article is a continuation from Part 1 about our December 2015 family vacation to the Vancouver, British Columbia, area.

The trip was also an opportunity for me, as a Canadian Museum of Nature volunteer for Paul Hamilton in the museum’s diatom lab, to collect Western Canada and “urban” freshwater diatom samples in the Vancouver area.

The following are some of the best sample locations and examples of diatoms found, from 20 samples overall.

Stanley Park: Lost Lagoon
Our kids Sheila and David again assisted me with sampling, this time in Stanley Park and West Vancouver. We entered the park and took a sample from the picturesque Lost Lagoon Lake and the creek that flows into it from the west.

117848 1-30 Gyrosigma attenuate

In Stanley Park, Sheila and David Holmes at Lost Lagoon Lake. The sample contained a Gyrosigma accuminata—our target diatom (size: 95 μm). Images: Joe Holmes © Canadian Museum of Nature

Collage: A portion of the creek, a diatom.

In Stanley Park, ducks unlimited along Lost Lagoon Creek that flows east to the lake. A sample contained a Stauroneis cf. gracilis diatom (size: 85 μm). Images: Joe Holmes © Canadian Museum of Nature

Stanley Park: Beaver Lake
Beaver Lake is near the centre of Stanley Park. It is drained by a creek that flows east through dense forest to Burrard Inlet. The Ravine Trail follows the length of the creek. Samples were collected from both the lake and the creek.

Collage: View of the lake, a diatom.

Beaver Lake near the centre of Stanley Park, complete with beaver lodge. The diatom is a Gomphonema insigne (size: 38 μm). Images: Joe Holmes © Canadian Museum of Nature

Collage: The creek, a diatom.

Beaver Lake Creek in Stanley Park, flowing east from the lake through dense forest. The diatom is a Brachysira serians (size: 85 μm). Images: Joe Holmes © Canadian Museum of Nature

West Vancouver: Capilano River
Because of a wrong turn in Stanley Park, we found ourselves crossing the famous Lion’s Gate Bridge into North and West Vancouver. It provided an opportunity to get a sample from the Capilano River, which divides the two cities.

Collage: View across the river, a diatom.

Looking south across the Capilano River from West Vancouver to the Lion’s Gate Bridge and Stanley Park. The diatom shown is a Cocconeis placentula (size: 35 μm). Images: Joe Holmes © Canadian Museum of Nature

Burnaby: Still Creek
On a rainy day, I took the SkyTrain southeast to Burnaby where, according to the map, there appeared to be some more interesting lakes and creeks. Once above ground, the SkyTrain gives you a feeling of travelling in a low-flying airplane. From the Sperling-Burnaby Lake station, I crossed a pedestrian overpass over a railway line to the Sperling Bike Trail. I took samples from the nearby Still Creek and from drainage ditches along the trail and Sperling Avenue.

Collage: A bend in a creek, a diatom.

Still Creek, where a sample with an Aulacoseira ambigua diatom (size: 48 μm) was taken. Images: Joe Holmes © Canadian Museum of Nature

Sperling Avenue Ditches
Further south on either side of Sperling Avenue were drainage ditches with plenty of water. There was also a swamp. These were all ideal places for diatoms.

Collage: A ditch running along a residential road, a diatom.

Drainage ditch along Sperling Avenue at Roberts Street. This Cymbopleura inaequalis (size: 65 μm) diatom was found in the ditch. Roberts St. leads to Burnaby Lake. Images: Joe Holmes © Canadian Museum of Nature

Burnaby Lake
I took two samples from Burnaby Lake. The first sample was at the Rowing Pavilion. Because of swampy ground and elevated walkways, I took a sample from under weeds by the shore. A second sample was taken just off the Southside Trail in a more accessible spot. There, the bottom was rich with black muck—perfect for diatoms. Both Burnaby Lake samples contained many diatoms of various species and were the best of the trip.

Collage: A boardwalk, a diatom.

Sample was taken from the weedy area in the foreground of the Burnaby Lake Rowing Pavilion. The Gomphonema coronatum diatom (size: 73 μm) was found here. Images: Joe Holmes © Canadian Museum of Nature

Collage: A lake, a diatom.

Burnaby Lake, near where the second sample from the lake was collected. A diatom from here is this Eunotia tetraodon (size: 43 μm). Images: Joe Holmes © Canadian Museum of Nature

Overall, we had a very enjoyable family trip to Vancouver, as well as a successful one collecting diatom samples. I am planning a future trip there for live diatom samples, with possible side trips to Victoria and Mission. Sheila may also be able to send us live diatom samples from B.C. in the spring or summer for analysis.

This entry was posted in Fieldwork, Plants and Algae, Research and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Hunting the Urban Diatom in Vancouver, B.C. (Part 2)

  1. Pingback: Pilgrim’s Progress: Sampling Diatoms in the Holy Land | Canadian Museum of Nature – Blog

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