Plenty of Pollinators and Ample Amphipods: Georgian Bay Islands and Six Mile Lake

It is yet again time for a quick update on the comings and goings of the BIObus!  Thanushi, Kate and I spent this past week visiting and sampling in three different parks: Six Mile Lake Provincial Park, Georgian Bay Islands National Park and Awenda Provincial Park.  With glorious weather and beautiful sample sites, it was the perfect week for aquatic sampling. 

Sunrise from our base-camp at Six Mile Lake
Sunrise from our base-camp at Six Mile Lake

We began and finished up the week at Six Mile Lake, a small but beautiful Provincial Park nestled not far from Georgian Bay on the shores of (no surprises here) Six Mile Lake.  With the smooth rolling rock of the Precambrian shield, a sandy lake bottom and marshy beaver ponds, the varying environment makes this park home to several rare plant and reptile species.  Sampling both the lake and marsh areas for aquatic invertebrates, as well performing plankton tows in Six Mile Lake, we found isopods and amphipods amongst the sediment, as well as damselfly larvae, copepods, Daphnia and water mites in the water column above.

Kate and I sampling in the marshes of Six Mile Lake Provincial Park
Kate and I sampling in the marshes of Six Mile Lake Provincial Park
Kate and I plankton sampling with the Schindler-Patalas trap
Kate and I plankton sampling with the Schindler-Patalas trap
Thanushi canoeing for plankton samples on Six Mile Lake
Thanushi canoeing for plankton samples on Six Mile Lake

We also spent some time speaking with visitors to the park, showing kids how to net insects in the grasses and shrubs, and sharing some fun facts about insects, sampling methods, our research and life aboard the BIObus.

Thanushi and I doing some public outreach at Six Mile Lake
Thanushi and I doing some public outreach at Six Mile Lake

On Wednesday morning, we caught a ride with Parks Canada from Honey Harbour over to Georgian Bay Islands National Park (GBINP), the world’s largest freshwater archipelago. Docking at Chimney Bay on Beausoleil Island, the largest island in the park, we set out to explore the famous granite shores of this southern region of the Canadian shield.

The whole team at Georgian Bay Islands National Park
The whole team at Georgian Bay Islands National Park
Pollinators abound at Chimney Bay on Beausoleil Island in GBINP!
Pollinators abound at Chimney Bay on Beausoleil Island in GBINP!

Hearing nearby campers’ warnings of the presence of a somewhat aggressive Massasauga rattlesnake as well as of a family of black bears, we armed ourselves with a camera and went looking for both species.  The campers most likely thought we were completely insane, as apparently we were expected to run for the hills at the news of these animals.  Despite our best efforts, however, we weren’t lucky enough to spot either species.  We did sample the shores of Fairy Lake as well as Chimney Bay itself, finding plenty of aquatic invertebrates in both locations.  While performing the mustard extraction for soil invertebrates, I was lucky to find a surprising number of millipedes (12 within our 1 foot quadrat!).  Not to be confused with centipedes, millipedes are part of the class Diplopoda (meaning two feet), and have two sets of jointed legs on each of their many body segments.  Rolling up into a ball when frightened, these little guys seem to be arthropod versions of an armadillo!

A millipede parading across the rocks at Fairy Lake on Beausoleil Island in GBINP
A millipede parading across the rocks at Fairy Lake on Beausoleil Island in GBINP

Tune in again soon to hear all about our escapades in Awenda Provincial Park!

-Liz

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