#TBT The Osprey – Ask a natural history question: Why slugs?

The Osprey, vol. 42, no. 03 (Summer 2011) By: Barry J. Hicks Q: Slugs are the bane of vegetable gardeners everywhere (especially this rainy spring and summer!), but do they have any redeeming qualities? What is the ecological role of the slug and is there a reason why we can’t do without them? A: Slugs are the bane of many gardeners. Many people do not have a loving relationship with these invertebrates that share their gardens. Although they are not well known in North America, the slugs are considered important members of terrestrial ecosystems world-wide by many biologists. The slugs are terrestrial, air breathing molluscs they are also related to bivalves (e.g. mussels and clams) and cephalopods (e.g. squid and octopus). Generally the molluscs have a muscular foot and a mantle which secretes a calcareous shell. However some molluscs have reduced or absent shells. Slugs are an example of a…

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#TBT The Osprey – Nature Sketches: Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa cardui)

The Osprey, vol. 35, no. 02 (May 2004) By: A. Glen Ryan Painted Lady Butterfly by A. Glen Ryan The Painted Lady is likely the most widespread butterfly in the world. It is found almost everywhere except in the deep tropics and the Arctic icecaps. It occurs on every continent except Australia and Antarctica, the reason for one or its common names; the Cosmopolitan! Its preferred habitat is open or disturbed areas including old fields, gardens, and roadsides. It is particularly fond of open sunny fields with thistles, especially the Canada Thistle in Newfoundland, where large numbers sometimes congregate in late summer, resulting in still another common name, the Thistle Butterfly. The Painted Lady belongs to the Nymphalidae, or brush-footed butterflies. They appear to have 4 legs instead of 6. The front legs are much smaller and use less for walking. They are hairy and brushlike in appearance and are…

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Molly Morrissey Receives 2021 Leslie Tuck Avian Ecology Award

The recipient of Memorial University's Leslie Tuck Avian Ecology Award, an endowed scholarship started by friends of the Natural History Society (now Nature NL) has their winning essay published by Nature NL. This year's winner, Molly M. Morrissey (MSc Candidate, Dept. Biology, Memorial University of Newfoundland) contributed the following essay, which discusses innovative efforts to understand seabird population and survival in Newfoundland and Labrador. by Molly M. Morrissey The world’s oceans have undergone significant, rapid changes since the onset of the industrial revolution. Human activities, directly and indirectly, are nearly universally recognized as a major contributor to these changes. One consequence has been massive food-web shifts, from which Newfoundland has not been spared. Overfishing, poor data collection, and weakly enforced quotas led to the near loss of the Atlantic cod, a fish synonymous with Newfoundland. The Newfoundland cod population collapsed in the early 1990s and is not even at half…

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We’re hiring an Executive Director!

Our all-volunteer Board of Directors is excited to be hiring for one part time Executive Director position. The position will run this summer and fall. There is a possibility of renewal and/or eventual full time work, depending on funding. We want to offer our members, supporters, and donors more ways to connect with nature, get outdoors, learn, play, and participate in conservation, while we grow our organization and help it run smoothly. Competition closes May 16th 2021, position is expected to start in June. Please feel free to share with anyone who might be interested! https://naturenl.ca/about/opportunities/

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The Snow Bunting Project – Labrador

Snow buntings taking flight. (Photo: V. Buckle) By Cheryl Davis, with Megan Boucher Cheryl Davis (Dartmouth, NS) got excited about the snow buntings she saw while living in western Labrador. She has been collecting data since 1998, and recently expanded the count with the help of the Canadian Wildlife Service in Goose Bay and local birders across Labrador. Each year, people come together to report their sightings of snow buntings on her project's Facebook page, "The Snow Bunting Project". The snow bunting, also known as the snowbird, is the most northerly recorded passerine in the world and an indicator of spring in Labrador. This migratory black and white bird is a tough survivor that breeds on frozen tundra in sub-zero temperatures. In recent years, climate change has made the snow bunting a species of concern, as it is unclear yet how warming arctic climates may affect the bird's breeding success.…

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Armchair Hiking – Gros Morne Mountain

Gros Morne Mountain looms large with its vast, steep, rocky slopes and expose summit. The top of the mountain feels far away as you start walking on the trail, winding through coniferous forest. The shady trail slowly climbs as you pass rivers and fallen logs .  The trees open up to reveal the top of Gros Morne. It’s much closer than when you started and it looks beautiful in the morning light. But the mountaintop is still a ways above you and this is where the trail starts to get more difficult. With the forest behind you, you follow the trail up a rocky, gully. It’s very steep and full of loose rocks. You climb carefully and take breaks under the shade of some small shrubs. As you rest, you look back at the view behind you, full of mountains, oceans bays and the bright orange rock of the Tablelands…

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#TrailTrekNL

You work your way up a beaten path laden with blueberry bushes and lichen. Your breathing mirrors the ebb and flow of the distant ocean as you faintly hear the tide collide with the coastline. Moss covers the ground in a blanket as you walk through a section of tall birch and spruce. The shadowy canopy breaks to illuminate a rocky outcrop where the ocean extends beyond the horizon and the salty sea air welcomes you home. This is Armchair Hiking. With over 330 documented trails here in Newfoundland and Labrador, there is a pretty good chance you are close to at least one (AllTrails.com, 2020). However, this doesn't always mean that you're comfortable on them.  This September we are celebrating our trails and encouraging intersectional environmentalism by sharing our trail experiences through blog posts, pictures and videos! Nature NL believes that enjoying nature should be an accessible activity for…

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A Tour of Successful Local Protected Areas

At our August talk we went on a tour of some successful local protected areas to highlight some of big benefits they can bring to the surrounding areas. We toured the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve and Gros Morne National Park where we learned what defines success and what makes these unique areas successful in their own ways. Why do we need protected areas? To reiterate, protected areas are more than protecting nature. There is a common misconception that protected areas do this by banning all human activities and interactions within the area. This is not true. It is about keeping land public forever and preventing large industry threats like forestry and mining from buying the land that could prevent some activities that we all enjoy doing within the areas. They can also help create more provincial parks for people to enjoy in all sorts of capacities. Read more about the…

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Attu east: what makes us unique in the ABA?

By Lancy Cheng and Megan Boucher The post Attu East: what makes us unique in the ABA? has been shared by naturalist Lancy Cheng who leads events with Nature NL including our Gull workshop and our Bird Learning Nights. Or you may have seen him when birding around town, especially at Quidi Vidi Lake where he would be identifying gulls during all seasons, especially winter! This was done in collaboration with Megan Boucher prior to her relocation to New Brunswick but will not be the last shared project. We hope you will enjoy this interesting post about the unique ABA area. First of all, please accept our sincere apology. This article is heavily digitized, so is birding. ABA, short for American Birding Association, is the rule maker for birding in North America, whose boxing ring includes the United States, Canada, St. Pierre et Miquelon, the recently added Hawaii, plus some…

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Why we need protected areas

Nature NL recently hosted a panel discussion about the new Protected Areas Plan for the Island of Newfoundland. The consultations on this plan are open now, so it's a great time to learn more about these proposed areas. The consultations are a way for WERAC and our provincial government to hear everyone's opinions, and listen, and then refine the plan. The plan will be changed as needed as we go ahead, and each proposed protected area will go through local consultations as well. You can read more about the stories to date on this plan as well. Here we will take a look at some of the reasons that we at Nature NL support protected areas. This post covers the same ideas as in the introduction at our Protected Areas Panel, with some changes to the phrasing for clarity. Why do we even need protected areas? A lot of the…

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