Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Keji Park: beauty on the rocks (guest blog post)

Communication is an essential part of science. The Canadian Field-Naturalist wants to encourage science communication among Canada's early-career naturalists. Below is a story about a research article in our latest issue, authored by Lauren Banks, a first year Environmental Science graduate student at Trent University. Lauren was not involved in this study.

Kejimkujik (Keji) National Park is shining example of conservation and natural history research in Nova Scotia. Collaborative projects in the park range from working with species at risk like Blanding’s Turtle to providing environmental education to visitors. The intricate river and lake system and surrounding area in Keji is the result of a sustained interaction of biota and geology creating unique networks of ecosystems that have attracted researchers across Canada.
Map of Kejimkujik (Keji) National Park
Figure 1 Kejimkujik (Keji) National Park, Nova Scotia. Map created by Jay Fitzsimmons from Google Maps base layer.
Nova Scotia has a diverse geological history dating over a billion years. The Southwest region of the province, where Keji is located, resulted from a geological mish-mash primarily composed of slate, quartzite, and granite bedrock. Unlike softer rocks like limestone, which erodes and releases minerals like calcium carbonate, Keji’s bedrock doesn’t readily erode. With minimal erosion occurring, lakes in the park generally have a low mineral content. Though this is a naturally occurring phenomenon, the lack of minerals in the water can make these lakes susceptible to acidification.

Nova Scotia is often referred to as the ‘tailpipe’ of the eastern seaboard, due to the eastbound wind of the jet stream that can bring air pollutants from central Canada to Nova Scotia. These pollutants can include nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulphur dioxides (SOx). Once airborne, NOx and SOx can interact with other substances in the atmosphere, resulting in acid rain, acid fog, or even acid snow. Though emission and deposition of these pollutants have declined from their peak deposition in the 1970s and 80s, the effects are still measureable in Keji’s lakes. Due to bedrock geology, these lakes lack a natural ability to buffer the effects of acid rain. This medley of distinctive ecological and geological qualities has created a fascinating setting to ask questions about the environmental effects of acid rain on the most vulnerable types of lakes.

Acid rain biomonitoring

As a part of the Acid Rain Biomonitoring Program, scientists with Environment Canada wanted to know about the impacts of an increasingly acidic environment on invertebrates in Keji’s lakes. In addition, they wanted to establish a baseline of invertebrate diversity and abundance, and assess the potential of using certain species as bioindicators of lake health. Invertebrates play an integral role in the aquatic food web, from filtering algae and assisting with decomposition of plant matter to being a primary food source for fish and waterfowl species. Presence, abundance, and taxa diversity of invertebrates can provide a snapshot of ecosystem structure and function.

This study used different sampling methods to target different types of invertebrates; if you want to survey many types of invertebrates you have to do many types of sampling. In June 2009 and 2010, three sampling methods were used in 20 acidic lakes in and adjacent to Keji. Each of these methods targets different habitats, and together they provided the researchers with a sense of the diversity of invertebrates in these lakes. This aspect of the study is unique, as researchers often focus solely on one species or only use one of these techniques. Zooplankton, generally small free-floating invertebrates, were sampled at the deepest part of the lake using a vertical net haul. The researchers also set minnow traps to get a sense of fish abundance.

Acidic lakes dominated by a few hardy species

Acidity and calcium concentration appeared to be the main drivers of invertebrate abundance and diversity in these lakes. Lakes that had higher calcium and less acidity generally had higher species richness. In acidic lakes fewer taxa were collected, with isopods, beetles, and worms being most abundant. One species of isopod constituted over 30% of the invertebrate populations of 11 of 20 lakes, and seemed to flourish in acidic lakes with low calcium. Two acid-tolerant amphipod species were collected in 55% and 95% of all sampled lakes. Amphipods generally have a shrimp-like appearance and are often called scuds. Snails and clams require calcium to build their shells, and both groups were not found in lakes that were moderately to strongly acidic. Other invertebrates that appeared to be vulnerable to acidic water include leeches, mayflies, and daphnia zooplankton.

Hyalella azteca, the most abundant amphipod in sampled lakes
Figure 2 - Hyalella azteca, the most abundant amphipod in sampled lakes. Photo by Scott Bauer, courtesy of the US Dept. of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service.
These results suggest that the invertebrate community is dominated by a few hardy species in acidic lake environments. Having a low number of prey species at the base of the lake food chain can have impacts far beyond the invertebrate communities themselves, since invertebrates are an important food source for many fish and waterfowl.

Lakes vs. rivers for biomonitoring

Invertebrates are often used as bioindicators of pollution in rivers, but their use as bioindicators in lakes is less routine. Invertebrates have proven useful as bioindicators to monitor pollution in rivers and streams. In rivers and streams, the EPT index has been widely applied to monitor changes to these ecosystems. EPT is an acronym for mayflies (Ephemeroptera), stoneflies (Plecoptera), and caddisflies (Trichoptera), which are all pollution-sensitive taxa. Though both aquatic ecosystems, lakes and rivers/streams provide vastly different habitats for invertebrates. The EPT index may not be as useful a bioindicator for lakes as for rivers. Understanding invertebrate community dynamics in acid-sensitive lakes is an important step in developing an index to monitor changes to invertebrate communities in lakes.

This study was the first study to perform an inventory of invertebrates in a broad range of lakes at Keji. This baseline can serve as a useful tool for researchers and the public to track changes in the invertebrate community for years to come. However, no invertebrate inventory was completed during the peak of nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide deposition, so we may never know the true extent of impacts of acid rain on invertebrates. Continuous environmental and ecological monitoring is essential for understanding the changing environment and our role in environmental degradation and future remediation.

Nussbaumer, C., Burgess, N.M., & Weeber, R.C. 2014. Distribution and Abundance of Benthic Macroinvertebrates and Zooplankton in Lakes in Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site of Canada, Nova Scotia. The Canadian Field-Naturalist 128(1):1-24.
Lauren Banks - portrait
Lauren Banks is an Environmental Science Master's student at Trent University in Peterborough. She studies freshwater plants, but curiosity has lead her to adventures with bees, martens, and farming.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

New issue: vol 128 issue 1 (on time!)

We published our Jan-March 2014 issue IN JAN-MARCH 2014!!!  It's like we're in a time portal ... but the opposite ... so I guess it's like we're living in real time.  Trippy.

This issue has great breadth of topics and taxa, including:
-Illustrated key to small mammals' jaws (great for figuring out diet from predators' scat)
-Varied (and beautiful) pigmentation patterns among Nova Scotia's Maritime Gartersnakes (see our cover photo below)
-A tropical moth in northern Manitoba
-Eggshell thickness in the context of natural history for Common Murres
-Tough-as-nails lynx crossing frigid glacial rivers, repeatedly


Distribution and abundance of benthic macroinvertebrates and zooplankton in lakes in Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site of Canada, Nova Scotia (1-24)
Christina Nussbaumer, Neil M. Burgess, Russ C. Weeber

An illustrated key to the mandibles of small mammals of eastern Canada (25-37)
Dominique Fauteux, Gilles Lupien, François Fabianek, Jonathan Gagnon, Marion Séguy, Louis Imbeau

Characteristics of Barred Owl (Strix varia) nest sites in Manitoba, Canada (38-43)
Todd M. Whiklo, James R. Duncan

Yellow Warblers (Setophaga petechia) rear second broods in some years at Delta Marsh, Manitoba (44-49)
Spencer G. Sealy

Asynchronous breeding and variable embryonic development period in the threatened Northern Leopard Frog (Lithobates pipiens) in the Cypress Hills, Alberta, Canada: conservation and management implications (50-56)
Lea A. Randall, Lynne D. Chalmers, Axel Moehrenschlager, Anthony P. Russell

Diet of the Pacific Sand Lance (Ammodytes hexapterus) in the Salish Sea, British Columbia, in the 1960s (57-62)
J. Mark Hipfner, Moira Galbraith

Melanistic diversity in the Maritime Gartersnake, Thamnophis sirtalis pallidulus, in Nova Scotia, Canada (63-71)
John Gilhen, Fred W. Scott

Thickness of Common Murre (Uria aalge) eggshells in Atlantic Canada (72-76)
Donald W. Pirie-Hay, Alexander L. Bond
[see author Alex Bond's blog post with the story behind this research project]

The most northerly Black Witch (Ascalapha odorata): a tropical moth in the Canadian Arctic (77-79)
Torbjørn Ekrem, Peter G. Kevan, Thomas S. Woodcock, Paul D. N. Hebert

Multiple crossings of a large glacial river by Canada Lynx (Lynx canadensis) (80-83)
Dashiell Feierabend, Knut Kielland

Tributes and Obituaries
A tribute to Kenneth William Stewart, 1936–2011 (84-90)
Francis R. Cook

Book Reviews
"Into the Night: Tales of Nocturnal Wildlife Expeditions" edited by Rick A. Adams. 2013. [book review] (91-92)
Burton K. Lim

"Owls" by Marianne Taylor. 2012. [book review] (92)
Renate Sander-Regier

"A Pocket Guide to Salamanders of Pennsylvania" by Walter E. Meshaka, Jr., and Joseph T. Collins. 2012. [book review] (93)
Francis R. Cook

"Snapper" by Brian Kimberling. 2013. [book review] (93-95)
Ron Brooks

"The Crossley ID Guide to Britain and Ireland" by Richard Crossley and Dominic Couzens. 2013. [book review] (95)
Roy John

"The Warbler Guide" by Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle. 2013. [book review] (96)
Mark Gawn

"Yellowstone Wildlife: Ecology and Natural History of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem" by Paul A. Johnsgard. 2013. [book review] (96-97)
Jim O'Neill

"Yellowstone Wildlife: Ecology and Natural History of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem" by Paul A. Johnsgard. 2013. [book review] (97-98)
Jonathan Way

"Field Manual of Michigan Flora" by E. G. Voss, and A. A. Reznicek. 2013. [book review] (99)
Holly J. Bickerton

"North Pacific Temperate Rainforests: Ecology and Conservation" edited by Gordon H. Orians and John W. Schoen. 2013. [book review] (100-101)
Cyndi M. Smith

"A Love Affair With the Birds: The Life of Thomas Sadler Roberts" by Sue Leaf. 2013. [book review] (101-103)
C. Stuart Houston

"Bootstrap Geologist: My Life in Science" by Gene Shinn. 2013. [book review] (103-104)
Alwynne B. Beaudoin

"Tracks and Shadows: Field Biology as Art" by Harry W. Greene. 2013. [book review] (104-105)
David Seburn

"Alfred Russel Wallace (2013) On the Organic Law of Change: A Facsimile Edition and Annotated Transcription of Alfred Russel Wallace’s Species Notebook of 1855–1859" annotated by James T. Costa. 2013. [book review] (105-107)
Alwynne B. Beaudoin

New titles (108-109)
Roy John

News and Comment
Meetings: Canadian Botanical Association 2014; International Conference on Biodiversity & Sustainable Energy Development 2014; Botany 2014 (110)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

ANOTHER new issue: vol 127 issue 4

We just published our latest issue (volume 127 issue 4, Oct-Dec 2013).  If this sounds familiar, that's because we've published three issues in three months - an unorthodox pace for a quarterly journal! With the publication of this issue, we are officially caught up in our publication schedule!

A big thank you to all of the authors, reviewers, editors, and others who helped us catch up. Drs. Cook, Callaghan, and Rytwinski deserve special thanks for their incredible efforts as past, present, and interim Editors-in-Chief, respectively. And thank you, loyal reader, for your patience as we have been so busy lately with this publication schedule. We do what we do for readers like you.

This issue has great research from across the taxonomic spectrum.  This includes a Canada Lynx article (of cover photo fame) with HD videos of Lynx behaviour, and a Wolverine article that is garnering significant media attention (e.g., CTV News with video, and a story written by Tyler Irving that was published by various outlets including the Vancouver Sun, Globe & Mail, and CBC). Meanwhile Tom Spears with The Ottawa Citizen picked up on our article about an alvar-inhabiting orchid in eastern Ontario. Browse our table of contents below to see what piques your fancy.

Covers pdf

Density and abundance of the Freshwater Pearl Mussel, Margaritifera margaritifera, in the Kennebecasis River, New Brunswick and evidence of recent recruitment (303-309)
M. C. Sollows, Donald F. McAlpine, K. R. Munkittrick

Canada Lynx (Lynx canadensis) detection and behaviour using remote cameras during the breeding season (310-318)
Shannon M. Crowley, Dexter P. Hodder, Karl W. Larsen
Video of a group of lynx:
Video of lynx scent-marking:

Invasion of Rosa rugosa (Rugosa Rose) into coastal plant communities of Brier Island, Nova Scotia (319-331)
David J. Garbary, Nicholas M. Hill, Anthony G. Miller

New and noteworthy records of Orthoptera and allies in the Maritimes and the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec (332-337)
Paul M. Catling, Donald F. McAlpine, Christopher I. G. Adam, Gilles Belliveau, Denis Doucet, Aaron D. Fairweather, David Malloch, Dwayne L. Sabine, A. W. Thomas

Isotopic evidence of salmon, Oncorhynchus spp., in the diet of the Wolverine, Gulo gulo, on Princess Royal Island, British Columbia (338-342)
Thomas F. Shardlow

Attempted conspecific cavity usurpation by Red-headed Woodpeckers (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) (343-345)
Jacob L. Berl, John W. Edwards, Jeff S. Bolsinger

Attempted predation of a diurnally active Spotted Bat (Euderma maculatum) by a Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) (346-347)
Thomas S. Jung

Great Plains Ladies’-tresses, Spiranthes magnicamporum: disjunct in eastern Ontario and a new orchid species for the Ottawa District and Lanark County (348-351)
Joyce M. Reddoch, Paul M. Catling, Allan H. Reddoch

Tributes and Obituaries
A tribute to Laurie Lynn Consaul, 1960–2012 (352-357)
Lynn Gillespie

A tribute to John Roger Bider, 1932–2013 (358-365)
Rodger D. Titman, G. Jean Doucet, Gregory Weil, David M. Bird

Book Reviews
"In The Presence of Buffalo: Working to Stop the Yellowstone Slaughter" by Daniel Brister. 2013. [book review] (366-367)
Jon Way

"Frogs of the United States and Canada (2 Volumes)" by C. Kenneth Dodd Jr. 2013. [book review] (368-369)
Francis R. Cook

"Frogs of the United States and Canada (2 Volumes)" by C. Kenneth Dodd Jr. 2013. [book review] (369-370)
David Seburn

"Enter the Realm of the Golden Eagle" by David H. Ellis. 2013. [book review] (370-371)
C. Stuart Houston

"Looking for the Goshawk" by Conor Mark Jameson. 2013. [book review] (371)
Roy John

"Rare Animals of India" edited by Natarajan Singaravelan. 2013. [book review] (372-373)
Roy John

"The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Trees. Second Edition." by David More and John White. 2013. [book review] (373-374)
Bev McBride

"Walking Wild Shores: Portraits of the Natural World" by Kevin Winker. 2013. [book review] (374-375)
Bev McBride

"The Efficiency Trap: Finding a Better Way to Achieve a Sustainable Energy Future" by Steve Hallett. 2013. [book review] (375-376)
Jim O'Neill

New titles (377)
Roy John

News and Comment
The Canadian Herpetologist latest issue; Upcoming meetings (378)

Club Reports
The Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club Awards for 2012, Presented April 2013 (379-384)
Eleanor Zurbrigg, Irwin Brodo, Julia Cipriani, Christine Hanrahan, Ann MacKenzie

Index to Volume 127 (385-394)
William Halliday

Monday, December 30, 2013

New issue: vol 127 issue 3

Our latest issue was published earlier this month. I'm a little late posting the table of contents on our blog - things have been hectic publishing so many issues so quickly.  It's a great "problem" to have!  Our next issue is scheduled to be published in two weeks, which will make us FULLY CAUGHT UP IN OUR PUBLICATION SCHEDULE!  Which I may have just jinxed by publicly expressing hope.

Volume 127 issue 3 has something for everyone, and its articles have attracted significant (yup, P<0.05) media attention.  The research articles include:

  • Two articles authored by teens, on biocontrol wasps and the effects of a fungal rust on Highbush Cranberry (press release)
  • Description of a likely subspecies of alvar-inhabiting butterfly in Ontario (with beautiful cover photo)
  • How scavenging crows avoid getting hit by cars
  • Fossil aquatic reptiles in the Yukon
  • Lichen diversity in second-growth forest
  • New bat species records for Labrador

Covers - Editorial Board and Publication Information (cover)

Abundance, distribution, and species assemblages of colonial waterbirds in the boreal region of west-central Manitoba and east-central Saskatchewan (203-210)
        Scott Wilson

War of the wasps: is Diadegma insulare or Microplitis plutellae a more effective parasitoid of the Diamondback Moth, Plutella xylostella? (211-215)
        Adamo Young

Survey methodology for the detection of Wood Turtles (Glyptemys insculpta) (216-223)
        Melissa Flanagan,       Vanessa Roy-McDougall,  Graham Forbes,  Glen Forbes

An alvar race of the  couperi  subspecies of the Silvery Blue (Glaucopsyche lygdamus couperi) in Southeastern Ontario? (224-228)
        Paul M. Catling,        Ross A. Layberry

Behaviour of American Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) when encountering an oncoming vehicle (229-233)
        Shomen Mukherjee,       Jayanti Ray-Mukherjee,  Robin Sarabia

First records of a Plesiosaurian (Reptilia: Sauropterygia) and an Ichthyosaur (Reptilia: Ichthyosauria) from Yukon, Canada (234-239)
        James A. Campbell,      Claudia J. Schröder-Adams,      James W. Haggart,       Patrick S. Drucken-Miller, Michael J. Ryan,        Grant D. Zazula

Lichen biodiversity and conservation status in the Copeland Forest Resources Management Area: a lichen-rich second-growth forest in southern Ontario (240-254)
        R. Troy McMullin,       James C. Lendemer

Home site fidelity in Black Rockfish, Sebastes melanops, reintroduced into a fjord environment (255-261)
        Jeff Marliave,  Alejandro Frid, David W. Welch, Aswea D. Porter

Historical distribution records and new records confirm and extend the distribution of the Silver Lamprey, Ichthyomyzon unicuspis, in the Hayes River, Hudson Bay watershed, Manitoba (262-265)
        J. David Tyson, Douglas A. Watkinson

First records of the Northern Myotis (Myotis septentrionalis) from Labrador and summer distribution records and biology of Little Brown Bats (Myotis lucifugus) in southern Labrador (266-269)
        Hugh G. Broders,        Lynne E. Burns, Sara C. McCarthy

Impact of the rust Puccinia linkii on Highbush Cranberry, Viburnum edule, near Smithers, British Columbia (270-273)
        Kiri Daust

Young Scientists and their Mentors (274)
        Carolyn Callaghan

Book Reviews
"The Eponym Dictionary of Amphibians" by Bo Beolens et al. 2013. [book review] (275-276)
        Francis R. Cook

"Field Guide to Jewel Beetles (Coleoptera: Buprestidae) of Northeastern North America" by S. M. Paiero et al. 2012. [book review] (276-277)
        Robert F. Foster

"The Boreal Owl: Ecology, Behaviour and Conservation of a Forest-dwelling Predator" by Erkki Korpimaki and Harri Hakkarainen. 2012. [book review] (277-278)
        C. Stuart Houston

"Primates of the World – An Illustrated Guide" by Jean-Jacques Petter and François Desbordes (Translated by Robert Martin). 2013. [book review] (278-279)
        Roy John

"Pterosaurs" by Mark P. Witton. 2013. [book review] (279)
        Randy Lauff

"The Secret World of Red Wolves: The Fight to Save North America’s Other Wolf" by T. DeLene Beeland. 2013. [book review] (280-281)
        Jonathan G. Way

"An Introduction to Population Genetics: Theory and Application" by Erasmus Nielsen and Montgomery Slatkin. 2013. [book review] (281-282)
        Roger D. Applegate

"The Reindeer Botanist: Alf Erling Porsild, 1901–1977" by Wendy Dathan. 2012. [book review] (282-283)
        Tyler William Smith

"Alexander Wilson, the Scot who Founded American Ornithology" by Edward H. Burtt, Jr. and William E. Davis, Jr. 2013. [book review] (283-284)
        C. Stuart Houston

New titles (284)
        Roy John

News and Comment
Using Coefficients of Conservatism and the Floristic Quality Index to Assess the Potential for Serious and Irreversible Damage to Plant Communities (285-288)
        Paul M. Catling

Revisions to the OFNC Constitution and By-Laws; The Society for Integrative & Comparative Biology Annual Meeting 2014 (288)

Club Reports
Minutes of the 134th Annual Business Meeting of The Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club January 15, 2013 (289-302)
        Ann MacKenzie

Monday, December 23, 2013

Lots of media attention for issue 127(3) articles (UPDATED DEC 30)

We have received great media attention over the past week or two. We’ve learned a lot about how to generate media interest along the way, thanks to helpful advice from several people, including Jenny Ryan (Communications Manager, Canadian Science Publishing; @JRyanCSP) and Tyler Irving (Media Officer, Science Media Centre Canada; @tylereirving).



Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Press release: "Pest-killing wasps and berry fungus: teens publish discoveries about Canadian wildlife in scientific journal"

Our latest issue is full of great research.  That includes two research articles authored by teens.  It is inspiring to see teens so driven by curiosity and love of science that they not only do solid research but also take the next step and publish it, so their discoveries can be shared.  We drafted the following press release in the hopes that media will cover the story of these teens and their research.


Pest-killing wasps and berry fungus: teens publish discoveries about Canadian wildlife in scientific journal

By Jay Fitzsimmons
December 10, 2013

Ottawa, Ontario – We know more about wildlife this week, thanks to research by two Canadian teens. Teens from Ottawa and rural British Columbia published their research in this week’s issue of a scientific journal, The Canadian Field-Naturalist. Their research on wasps and leaf disease reveal that a Canadian wasp is an efficient killer of an agricultural pest, and a little-known fungus is hurting Highbush Cranberries. Both research articles were subject to the same peer-review process and met the same scientific standards as articles authored by professors and other professional scientists.

Adamo Young is a grade 12 student in Ottawa who loves science. Young found a mentor in Dr. Peter Mason, a Research Scientist at the Experimental Farm in Ottawa. Young’s research focused on an agricultural pest and the wasps that kill it.

Adamo Young. Used with permission.
The Diamondback Moth invaded Canada a long time ago, and brought with it an appetite for crops such as cabbage and canola. Researchers have known for years that two Canadian wasp species can kill the pest moth. The wasps lay their eggs in moth caterpillars, then the baby wasps grow up eating the caterpillar from the inside out until the wasps emerge from the caterpillar, killing the caterpillar in the process. “It’s kind of like the movie Alien,” Young explained.
Microplitis plutellae wasp larva emerging from its host, a Diamondback Moth caterpillar. Photo by Adamo Young, reproduced from his research article with permission.
Microplitis plutellae wasp larva emerging from its host, a Diamondback Moth caterpillar. Photo by Adamo Young, reproduced from his research article with permission.
While researchers knew these wasps kill the moth pest, they didn’t know which wasp was more effective under different conditions. Young designed and performed experiments to see which wasp is better at controlling Diamondback Moth populations under various conditions. He found that one wasp species was a tireless killing machine, whereas the other wasp was only effective at killing moths under limited conditions. The results will help farmers and greenhouse operators combat the moth pest without the need for pesticides.
Diadegma insulare wasp (a.k.a., 'tireless killing machine'). Photo by Adamo Young, reproduced from his research article with permission.
Diadegma insulare wasp (a.k.a., 'tireless killing machine'). Photo by Adamo Young, reproduced from his research article with permission.
“My research won first prize at the Ottawa regional science fair, and two of the judges were editors of The Canadian Field-Naturalist. They said my research was good enough to be published.” So Young wrote his research as a scientific paper and submitted it. “It’s pretty cool to say you’ve published a scientific paper,” Young said.

Kiri Daust’s research on plant disease started the same way many biologists’ projects start: with a walk in the woods. “I go walking in the woods with my family pretty much every day,” explained Daust from his home in Telkwa, British Columbia. “We collect Highbush Cranberries to make jelly.” In 2012, Daust noticed a weird disease on the plants.

Rather than shrug off the finding, Daust followed his curiosity. He sent pictures of the disease to an expert who identified the culprit as a rare kind of rust fungus about which experts know little. The fungus was known to infect Highbush Cranberry, but nobody knew what effect it had on the plant. Daust, aged fifteen at the time, decided he would answer that question.
Leaves of Highbush Cranberry with different levels of rust fungus infection. Photo by Karen Price, reproduced with permission from Kiri Daust's research article.
Leaves of Highbush Cranberry with different levels of rust fungus infection. Photo by Karen Price, reproduced with permission from Kiri Daust's research article.
Daust photographed the leaves of plants with different levels of infection, and checked back on the plants as the season progressed. He found that plants with higher levels of infection produced berries that were infected, undeveloped, and had less sugar than uninfected plants’ berries. He dug deep into historical records and found an interesting pattern: the fungus may attack Highbush Cranberry the most after wet spring weather. Wet springs are predicted to become more common in Daust’s region of B.C., which does not bode well for local berry pickers or wildlife. “This year, there is tons of rust on the plants and there are hardly any berries,” Daust explained.

While Young had to search to find a scientific mentor, Daust’s mentor was in his house. Dr. Karen Price is an ecologist and Kiri Daust’s mom and homeschool teacher. “My role is simply to encourage Kiri’s curiosity,” Price explained.
Kiri Daust with his mom and mentor, Dr. Karen Price. Photo reproduced with permission.
Kiri Daust with his mom and mentor, Dr. Karen Price. Photo by Dave Daust, reproduced with permission.
Like Young, Daust first presented his research at science fairs, where he won many awards. Local scientists recommended Daust publish his research in The Canadian Field-Naturalist, to share his findings with the scientific community. “Sharing knowledge of the world, that’s kind of the purpose of science,” Daust explained.

Both teens had plenty of exposure to nature as kids. Young was a member of the Macoun Field Club, an Ottawa club for youth who love nature. Daust grew up in an off-grid cabin in the forests of central B.C.; without computer access his questions came from the wildlife around him. Both teen scientists recommend teens should try doing a science fair project on a problem that matters to them. And, as Young suggested, “if you’re interested in science, just do it.”

About The Canadian Field-Naturalist

The Canadian Field-Naturalist is a scientific journal published by the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club since 1879. The Canadian Field-Naturalist publishes original research on natural history, which is the study of wildlife ecology, behaviour, taxonomy, and diversity. They publish research on species that live in Canada, though the research itself can take place anywhere. For more information, please visit

Article citations

Young, Adamo. 2013. War of the wasps: is Diadegma insulare or Microplitis plutellae a more effective parasitoid of the Diamondback Moth, Plutella xylostella? Canadian Field-Naturalist 127(3): 211–215.

Daust, K. 2013. Impact of the rust Puccinia linkii on Highbush Cranberry, Viburnum edule, near Smithers, British Columbia. Canadian Field-Naturalist 127(3): 270–273.


For more information, including advance copies of the research articles, please contact
Jay Fitzsimmons, Journal Manager
1320 Edmison Drive, Peterborough, Ontario, K9H 6V3, Canada
info "at"
Cell: 705-768-7243
Twitter: @CanFieldNat

Thursday, November 7, 2013

New issue: vol 127 issue 2

Our latest issue is out!  Check out the latest research on Canadian wildlife and natural history.  Among this issue's articles:
  • What do Black Bears eat throughout the year?
  • Trumpeter Swans vs Snapping Turtles ... FIGHT!
  • Putting the History in Natural History: exploring past B.C. seabird activities through tree ring growth and stable isotopes
  • Splitting hairs blades: the niches of grasses
  • Plants killing birds
  • Owwwls iiiiin spaaaaace (or at least the Arctic)
  • And an essay against historical over-forestation of Ontario


The response of invertebrate populations in three undisturbed soils in southwestern Ontario, Canada, to variations in local soil properties, seasonal changes, and climate (103-117)
Ian W. E. Harris

Temporal variation in food habits of the American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) in the boreal forest of northern Ontario (118-130)
Derrick A. Romain, Martyn E. Obbard, James L. Atkinson

Relative abundance of the Prairie Long-tailed Weasel (Mustela frenata longicauda) in southwestern Alberta (131-137)
Garry E. Hornbeck, Dan Soprovich

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator) behaviour, interactions with Snapping Turtles (Chelydra serpentina), and their Pleistocene history (138-145)
Harry G. Lumsden

Tree ring growth and stable isotopes as potential indicators of historical seabird activities on forested islands in coastal British Columbia (146-154)
T. E. Reimchen, S. McGehee, B. W. Glickman

Ecological and geographical separation of three varieties of Sporobolus vaginiflorus (Poaceae) in eastern Ontario (155-163)
Paul M. Catling

Bird behaviour on and entanglement in invasive burdock (Arctium spp.) plants in Winnipeg, Manitoba (164-174)
Todd J. Underwood, Robyn M. Underwood


Flight of a flock of Common Eiders, Somateria mollisima, in Northumberland Strait interrupted by the Confederation Bridge, New Brunswick–Prince Edward Island (175-177)
Colin M. MacKinnon, Andrew C. Kennedy, Matthew L. Horsman

Documentation of infanticide in American Marten (Martes americana(178-179)
Amy Dubruiel, James E. Woodford, David M. MacFarland

Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) breeding in Wapusk National Park, Manitoba (180-184)
N. C. Asselin, M. S. Scott, J. Larkin, C. Artuso

First nesting records for the Short-eared Owl, Asio flammeus, on Banks Island, Northwest Territories: evidence of range expansion to arctic islands in Canada (185-188)
Cynthia Marjorie Smith, Norman Andrew Lawrence, Rosemary Anne Buck

Book Reviews
"The Unfeathered Bird" by Katrine van Grouw. 2013. [book review] (189-190)
Matthew Iles

"Biology and Conservation of Martens, Sables and Fishers – A new synthesis" edited by K. B. Aubry et al. 2012. [book review] (190)
Randy Lauff

"Mammals of China" edited by Andrew T. Smith and Yan Xie. 2013. [book review] (191)
Roy John

"Odd Couples" by Daphne J. Fairbairn. 2013. [book review] (191)
Roger D. Applegate

"Wildlife of Australia" by Iain Campbell and Sam Woods. 2013. [book review] (192)
Roy John

"Aldrovanda, The Waterwheel Plant" by Adam Cross. 2012. [book review] (192-193)
Jim O'Neill

"Antarctica – Global Science from a Frozen Continent" edited by David W. H. Walton. 2013. [book review] (193-194)
Geoffrey Carpentier

"For the Birds – Recollections and Rambles" by Fred Helleiner. 2013. [book review] (195)
Roy John

"Birdfinding in British Columbia" by Russell Cannings and Richard Cannings. 2013. [book review] (195-196)
Roy John

New titles (196-197)

News and Comment
The cult of the Red Pine – a useful reference for the over-afforestation period of Ontario (198-199)
Paul M. Catling

Canadian Herpetologist new issue; Irwin (Ernie) Brodo Awarded an Honorary Degree by Carleton University; Manitoba Government Introduces North America’s First Ecosystem Protection Legislation; Dr. J. Roger Bider 1932–2013; Worldwide Raptor Conference (199-200)

Spelling error in citation in CFN 127(1):79 (200)

Club Reports
Editor’s Report for Volume 126 (2012) (201-202)
Carolyn Callaghan