The ABC’s of ABCA!

Hello again everyone! I’m going to talk to you about the most recent trip the BIObus and her crew went on, where we had a ‘base camp’ in the Pinery, and explored a variety of management and conservation areas within the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA).

The ABCA is an area in Southwestern Ontario, bordering Lake Huron. The ABCA encompasses drainage basins from a variety of large rivers and streams that are draining directly into Lake Huron, so the ABCA was originally formed in 1946 to deal with flood control, soil erosion, and water supply and quality. It currently boasts a population of 45,000 in its 2,440 square kilometer range, and is a beautiful area to visit. Upon exploring their brochures and website you learn that their primary goal is to make sure that the massive watershed is restored, protected, and conserved in such a way that it is beneficial to all species that live there (including people!).

The BIO team recently began aquatic invertebrate sampling and soil invertebrate sampling within a few areas in the ABCA. Our first stop was Clinton Conservation Area which is 250 acres of nature trails, reforestation area, and prime wildlife habitat. The Bayfield River was where we began our aquatic sampling, and the soil invertebrate sampling began in the immediate vicinity. The vegetation around the river was healthy and dense (making it a challenge for our crew to get set up and sampling), and we were able to collect a diverse amount of invertebrates from the soil.

The scenic Bayfield River
The scenic Bayfield River

I was actually in waders in this particular location. We needed to sample in a pool (a non-turbulent area of the river) and two riffles (a very turbulent area of the river). I started downstream in a riffle site (so as to not disturb the sites upstream from myself) and began sampling with a Dip net. I had to re-trace the sample site a few times to make sure I reached 100 animals from the site. We had to keep trying, as it is hard to determine the actual quantity of animals you have. Animals that can be seen easily with the eye we call “macros”, and animals like Ephemeroptera (mayflies) are easy to count, but small annelids and mites are almost impossible to distinguish from floating debris and swirling dirt particles. We then moved to the pool site and repeated the process, and finally into the last riffle site. So with our total animal count of 300 from the river we packed up and moved on! Unfortunately this site was absolutely swarming with mosquitoes and our whole team received multiple bites, despite being coated in layers of clothing and bug spray.

Me in waders sampling in the stream
Me in waders sampling in the stream

Our next site was a swampy area in a ditch by the side of the road, where Joey hopped in and began jab and sweep sampling, and I recorded all site-pertinent information. We record GPS location, temperature, site description and details, vegetation types and sampling time (all on the go), so I was busy! It rained on and off but thankfully we have waterproof paper to write on!

The paper we record our data on (field sheet), GPS unit and meter stick
The paper we record our data on (field sheet), GPS unit and meter stick

The ABCA has offered beautiful sampling locations and we enjoyed discovering what lives in these managed areas!

-Danielle

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