Braving an onslaught of black flies, canoeing under a tangerine midsummer sunset, lending an ear to a near deafening frog chorus, gazing starstruck at the Milky Way, and immersed in the ebb and flow of seasons – it’s a wild life!
Annually, Patrick Moldowan, a Ph.D. Candidate in the Rollinson Lab (Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and School of the Environment), and a group of enthusiastic EEB students find themselves immersed in the wilderness to conduct ecological research with creatures of all sorts. Their rustic spring and summer home at the Algonquin Wildlife Research Station (AWRS), a not-for-profit organization operating in the heart of Canada’s iconic Algonquin Provincial Park, serves as their invaluable outdoor laboratory.
Their research is focussed on the lesser seen and appreciated, but no less important, members of our forest and wetland ecosystems: amphibians and reptiles. Moldowan and accompanying students are particularly focussed on the study of salamanders and their biology in our changing world. Why? “Salamanders are our modern day ‘canaries in the coal mine’, our sentinels of environmental health”, he said.
In 2019, the AWRS is celebrating 75 years of wildlife research and conservation, student training in the natural sciences, and outdoor education. The facility hosts many long-term ecological studies of flora and fauna, which have provided critical baseline information for the protection of lands, waters, and their inhabitants.
No day in the field is the same and with a 75-year legacy the AWRS is an incredible training ground for young environmental scientists and conservationists. In the Fall 2019 issue of Mountain Life – Blue Mountains magazine you can get a sense of their day-to-day work and their excitement in their experiential learning environment.
Also see, “‘Waist-deep in salamanders and turtles’: Ecology students gather data and research experience in Algonquin Park“.