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Research In Quetico

2014 Research in Quetico  

Whip-poor-will Survey

The Eastern Whip-poor-will is a medium sized bird with mottled brown and grey feathers that blend in with its surroundings. This bird is mostly active at night, and is therefore usually heard rather than seen. The song of the whip-poor-will sounds like it is whistling its name, often in a long and seemingly endless series. The whip-poor-will prefers habitat that is a mix of open and forested areas, such as old burns that are small openings in the forest. This species is listed as a Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. It is not known what the status of the whip-poor-will is in Quetico.


Because of its status as a species at risk, we would like to determine what areas of the park this bird is using and determine abundance. This information will allow us to conduct further research which will help us better manage the landscape for species requiring open and young forest stands. To do this, we are asking park visitors to report any sightings (visually or aurally) to the park. Survey forms can be found at each entry station, or data can be entered electronically from this website. Click here to access the survey.

For more information on species at risk, visit the Ministry of Natural Resources Species at Risk Website.

 Photo courtesy of John Cassidy

Long Term Ecological Monitoring 

In 2006, the new Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act identified the first objective of Ontario Parks: ‘To permanently protect representative ecosystems, biodiversity and provincially significant elements of Ontario’s natural and cultural heritage and to manage these areas to ensure that ecological integrity is maintained’. In other words, the management of our provincial parks is primarily intended to maintain or improve the ecological integrity of these areas, while incorporating activities that enable discovery of their natural and cultural richness.


So how do we ‘measure’ ecological integrity? The answer, while of fundamental importance to our managers, is far from simple. If we could do a complete census of every living creature in our parks, measuring ecological integrity would be simple. However, as this is not feasible from a financial or temporal perspective, we need to determine what to monitor that will indicate the health (trends) of each ecosystem. Quetico has prepared a monitoring framework to do just that. Last year we tested a variety of protocols and this year we are fully operational. Results of the monitoring program will help develop research priorities and will also be a key tool in management planning.


Changes in Moose Habitat Use in a Warming Climate  Principal Investigator: Ron Moen, University of Minnesota

 An aerial survey was conducted in 2009 to estimate the size of the moose population and to determine the calf:cow ratio. The survey revealed that the population had declined quite dramatically and that the number of calves had gone down as well. Because of this, Quetico joined a project with Minnesota to examine reasons for this decline. The project is being led by Dr. Ron Moen from the University of Minnesota, and partners include: Quetico Provincial Park, Grand Portage Indian Reservation, Voyageurs National Park and Superior National Forest. Sixty animals have been collared and 6 of these animals (five cows (two with calves) and one bull) were collared in 2011. In 2012, an attempt was made to collar an additional 5 moose, but due to the warm spring, only one animal was collared. This past winter, we managed to successfully collar the remaining five moose. To see where the moose are in the park, click here

Questions include:

  • What habitats are moose using in warm weather in winter and summer (warm temp – correlation or causation)?
  • How far apart are foraging habitat and thermal cover?
  • Long-term warning signs from activity or movement patterns?
  • What cover types are moose feeding in (winter, summer, fall, spring) and what are the forage limitations?
  • What is the effect of predation on the population?
  • What are the effects of parasites and diseases?
 Photo courtesy of Cory Jackson

Photo courtesy of Chris Stromberg

 Climate Change Adaptation Planning for Northern Forest Ecosystems in Parks Principle Investigators: Ron Moen, Lee Frelich, University of Minnesota  Steve Windels, Voyageurs National Park

Addressing the potential impacts of climate change on lands in the U.S.A. National Park System and within Ontario’s Provincial Parks is considered one of the highest priorities. The southern boreal parks are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of a changing climate. These forested parks, near the current prairie-forest border, could be transformed to open savannah in the next century (Frelich and Reich 2010, Gonzalez et al. 2010). Boreal plant and animal species would be lost or become very rare within each park, persisting only in thermal refugia. Species that might disappear include at least 10 boreal tree species that are currently foundation species for ecosystem function. Identifying trajectories that plant and animal species might take with climate change and how changes will affect natural resources, management, and visitor experience in the National Park Units in the Western Great Lakes Region and in Quetico Park is the focus of this project.

  Project objectives: 

1. Identifying likely vegetation changes from the present to 2100 for each park

2. Predicting responses of bird and mammal species to both climate and vegetation change

3. Creating lists of species likely to decrease, disappear, increase, or immigrate into each park

4. Locating the best currently existing analog climates and natural area vegetation for each park

5. Conducting sensitivity analysis and indirect validation with recent climate data

  If you would like more information on research in Quetico, please contact the park biologist, Brian Jackson at 597-5022 or 

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