Established in 1893, Algonquin Park is Ontario's oldest provincial park. Today, Algonquin is a 7,725 km2 protected area in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence biome that includes both lowland boreal mixed-wood and deciduous terrestrial forest ecosystems. Algonquin has always been one of the key, ‘mixed-use’ parks with multiple mandates that include resource extraction (forestry), recreation (recreation/utilization zones), and conservation (wilderness areas).
In 2011 we began began our preliminary collection of terrestrial arthropods from 5 diverse locations within the Park as part of a broad field survey of invertebrates in Algonquin Park. These specimens will be used for subsequent study using both morphology and standardized DNA barcodes. Our operational base in Algonquin was the Wildlife Research Station (WRS), located in an area of 80 km2 on the shores of Lake Sasajewun that has been set aside for scientific research since 1944. From this base we deployed to 5 different sites within the Park where we could collect preliminary data at nearby sites that differed in their forestry history. At each site we set up a wide array of trapping methods to collect Algonquin arthropods including: terrestrial and canopy Malaise traps (array of mesh panels that flying organisms encounter and fly up into trap head), pitfall traps (containers placed flush in the substrate that organisms encounter and fall into preserving solution), pan traps (shallow pans of fluid set into/on substrate that organisms fall or fly into) passive intercept traps (erect mesh panel that flying organisms encounter and drop to ground into collection solution), and Berlese and Winkler funnel traps (shaped containers with cloth platforms upon which samples are placed and organisms of limited vagility resident in a substrate are extracted from through the use of heat and desiccation). Sites were established and then returned to between 5-7 days later.
Currently, specimens are at the University of Guelph, being sorted to ordinal level with representations of sites and species being selected for subsequent photography, identification and DNA barcoding.
While collecting ants there is a standardised protocol that we complete at each locality. For instance, at each site we record the habitat using a GigaPan robot. I’ve been one of a group of scientists beta-testing the GigaPan since 2008, This remarkable piece of equipment consists of three technological developments: 1) A robotic camera mount for capturing very high-resolution (gigapixel and up) panoramic images using a standard digital camera; 2) Custom software for constructing very high-resolution gigapixel panoramas; and 3) A new type of website for exploring, sharing and commenting on gigapixel panoramas and the detail users will discover within them.
On this site I've embedded GigaPans from each collection site (2 per locality). Their names link to the full view of each panorama at the GigaPan website, and there are also links to the panorama displayed on a proper sphere using the GoogleEarth browser plug-in.
I was also using a dynamic piece of equipment - a digital field microscope, the DinoLite AMK4012-C200 with which I can record images and video in the field. I have been really pleased with how well this tool has worked in Costa Rica in 2010 and 2011. As in the tropics, I have uploaded the as yet un-edited results to You-Tube.
Algonquin Park Sampling - 2011
We put a LOT of km on the van this summer - 3,603km to be exact - driving to sites to erect traps and then returning a week later to collect them. Lots of time for good CBC radio listening and future planning!
Potential Algonquin sampling
Potential Algonquin sampling