5 Neat Things about Microplants

Posted November 27, 2018 Gene Herzberg recently gave a beautiful Nature NL talk about plants of the Limestone Barrens of Newfoundland and Labrador. The adaptations that these plants have developed to cope with this windy, cold, nutrient-poor environment are fascinating. For example, irregular surfaces on leaves help retain moisture, while fuzzy coats break up winter winds. And the growth form of rounded mounds that many of these plants show is a tight compact structure that keeps the flowers warm and protected from the wind. Another surprising example was the Creeping Juniper, where a burst of green vegetation appears at the end of a long dead stick lying on the ground. However, underneath what is seemingly a dead branch, a small, concealed strip of live bark and tissues carries nutrients way out to the end of the plant, which can be found further away on the ground. Another neat story was…

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Outport Chronicles: A Weekend in Grates Cove, NL

Photos by Sara Jenkins & John Jamieson This chilly winter weather has us thinking back on some of the fun we had before the snows hit.  This October, as a thank-you to our valued members who make all of our programming and educational activities possible, we organized a members-only weekend retreat to Grates Cove, NL.  We chose Grates Cove because its remoteness, rugged beauty, and the ingenuity of this community’s adaptation to both the natural landscape and changing lifeways of Newfoundland and Labrador inspire us to get out and celebrate both our province’s natural heritage and our role within it. Grates Cove is the northernmost community on the Avalon Peninsula, located at the tip of the Bay de Verde Peninsula and situated in the eastern hyper-oceanic barrens ecoregion.  This ecoregion is restricted to several isolate localities in Newfoundland and is characterized by extensive carpets of heath with diverse lichen, moss,…

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Researcher Spotlight Series: Michelle Fitzsimmons

By Michelle Fitzsimmons, Memorial University Posted November 19, 2018 Editor’s Note: In our Research Spotlight Series we shine a light on exciting research in our province. In this post we showcase Michelle Fitzsimmons who recently defended her PhD thesis in the Cognitive and Behavioural Ecology Graduate Program, Memorial University. My research focused on investigating the behavioural and physiological responses of Atlantic puffins to changing food resources. I studied puffins in the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve in Newfoundland and Labrador, which is home to the largest breeding colony of Atlantic puffins in North America. Over a period of four breeding seasons, I conducted two separate food supplementation studies, in which natural prey abundance also fluctuated greatly. Infra-red video cameras and Passive Integrated Transponder tags were used to identify parents and observe provisioning behaviour and parent-chick interactions. Researcher Michelle Fitzsimmons. Sex differences in parental provisioning effort were identified, revealing that female parents provisioned…

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2018 Wild Things Scholarship Winners

  The 2018 Wild Things Scholarship competition received 15 applications from around the province; 9 applications were complete.  Rita Anderson coordinated the competition, while Sara Jenkins, Jennifer Sullivan and Tara Stuckless independently evaluated the applications. We are pleased to note that volunteering on behalf of the environment and nature is alive and well, as several applicants had volunteered an amazing amount of time and energy on behalf of our provincial nature.  Impressively, the volunteer activities of two applicants were so striking that the committee decided to make two awards this year.   Continue reading ->

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2018 Wild Things Scholarship Winners

The Wild Things Scholarship recognizes the enthusiasm and efforts of post-secondary students whose volunteer activities have helped conserve or enhance nature in Newfoundland and Labrador. The award was funded by Wildland Tours and St. John’s businessman Dave Snow, a well-known conservationist in Newfoundland and Labrador and an alumnus of Memorial University. To date, the scholarship has awarded more than $25,000 to students. The Scholarship presentation took place on November 7th, with representatives from Nature NL, Memorial University and the Snow Family present. See the article by Kelly Foss in the MUN Gazette here. The Dean of Science at Memorial, Dr. Mark Abrahams, presenting at the Wild Things Scholarship ceremony, Nov. 7th, 2018. Committee Report By Rita Anderson The 2018 Wild Things Scholarship competition received 15 applications from around the province; 9 applications were complete.  Rita Anderson coordinated the competition, while Sara Jenkins, Jennifer Sullivan and Tara Stucklass independently evaluated the applications. We…

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Moth Walls: Living Placards for Biodiversity

By Joe Bowden, Research Scientist, Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Corner Brook, NL Posted October 26, 2018 My good friend and colleague Marianne Graversen in Aarhus, Denmark first introduced me to the concept of the moth wall while I was a postdoc (2013-2015) at Aarhus University and Natural History Museum (where she works). I remember heading out to one of their National Parks, Mols Bjerge, and seeing this white wall on a forest edge and thinking, “This is a fantastic idea!” During the day, it’s just a white board with a light fixed to it. At night, it is quite a spectacle when the light comes on. Moths (among other insects and the bats that eat them) start bombing around and eventually land on it. I also thought, “We need this kind of thing in Canada,” and was determined to get such a project up-and-running as soon as I could get the…

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Add Your Voice for Coastal Restoration in Newfoundland and Labrador

By Sara Jenkins Posted October 15, 2018 For our speaker series last month, GIS and conservation planning consultant Randal Greene  spoke about his current work with the World Wildlife Fund Canada to identify and prioritize sites for coastal restoration efforts in Newfoundland and Labrador.  Randal and WWF-Canada Project Coordinator, Victoria Neville, would like to give you the opportunity to voice your concerns about your coastline.  Read on to find out how you can suggest sites in need of restoration efforts as part of this multi-agency, multi-year initiative.   Project Overview This initiative is sponsored by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as part of their Canada-wide Coastal Restoration Fund, aimed at helping restore coastal aquatic habitats and addressing major threats to marine biodiversity and sensitive species.  Here in Newfoundland and Labrador, WWF-led restoration efforts will focus on projects that contribute to sustainable stewardship of aquatic resources through habitat restoration and improved ecosystem…

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Grab a Book for Science Literacy

Posted September 17, 2018 This week across Canada, scientists and science communicators are engaging with their local communities as part of Science Literacy Week—with over 800 events in 100 cities!  Nature NL is honoured to be a part of this National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)-supported event—we led a boreal forest hike on Saturday, shared our love of local animals at the Avalon Mall on Sunday afternoon, and will be hosting a public talk on coastal restoration on Thursday night (Sept. 20, 2018). But don’t let your excitement about science wane when Science Literacy Week wraps up.  After all, what better way to keep exploring the world around you when the fog rolls in, than to curl up with a great science book and a cup of tea?  In celebration of Science Literacy Week and beyond, Nature NL board members and friends have compiled a list of…

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Mushrooms 101

By Sara Jenkins Posted August 5, 2018   Nothing signals the end of summer quite like the appearance of mushrooms along the trails in Newfoundland!  Orange, yellow, red, purple, brown, pink or white — mushrooms and their fungal relatives are found in almost every environment in Newfoundland, from the inhospitable heights of the Tablelands in Gros Morne National Park, to the lush, moss-carpeted hillsides around St. John’s.  Beyond the highly sought-after edible species, there are thousands of other wild mushroom species deserving of attention for their variety in colour, shape, and habitat adaptation alone. Puffball (Lycoperdon sp.) in the Tablelands of Gros Morne NP What is a mushroom? Mushrooms are the fruiting body (reproductive structures) of some kinds of fungus.  Think of them as the flower of a fungus.  The mushroom releases spores, which is how the fungus reproduces.  The microscopic spores are carried by the wind or transported by…

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Nature field guides for Newfoundland

Looking to brush up on your naturalist skills, learn more about the wildlife around us, or just identify that weird looking bug you found in your backyard? Apps can be great too of course, but sometimes flipping through a book that you know is specific to your location is the best. Here's a handy list of some field guides that are great for the Island of Newfoundland (and some cover Labrador or all of Atlantic Canada also). These field guides aren't endorsed by Nature NL and we don't receive any compensation; we just have been asked what we recommend and wanted to share. We know that as a beginning naturalist it can be hard to figure out what to buy and where sometimes. Enjoy! General nature guide McCloskey & Kennedy - Nature Guide to Atlantic Canada A great guide for beginners (and even better, they can be found at many…

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