Over the past academic term (May 2017 – August 2017), I was a part of a team of individuals working on an ecological restoration project in Duntroon, Ontario. Duntroon is approximately 12km south of Collingwood, Ontario and 60km north of Orangeville, Ontario. The goal of the project is to find out if moving soil from one area to another will preserve species and add to the health of a young forest.
Many weekends in May and June were spent in Duntroon to document plant species in specified plots in order to know what to hope will grow after the soil has been moved. This was a three or four person effort team and required long days out in the field.
Using a number generator, we were able to keep the areas we ventured to in the forest random to avoid bias. At each usable point we created a 3 by 3 meter plot with a line diagonally through it. Then, one person would walk the line, naming all of the plant species we came across while another person would document the present species on either paper or straight into our data set using an iPad. A third member would use this time to identify any unknown species using various plant identification guides or find our next plot. Carrying materials and supplies was generally a joint effort among the team of three or four.
However simple this process sounds, a single 3 by 3 meter plot could take the team more than an hour. Our fastest plots took us around 7 minutes to complete and our goal was to keep each plot under 20 minutes. After experiencing delays and recognizing problems, we decided that if it took more than ten minutes to identify, we would take pictures to document them, and move on.
The aim of this project is to move documented vegetation to a young forest to see what under-story vegetation grows in the new location. No matter the outcome of this project, the data collected will aid general understanding of forest soils and ecosystems.
I was lucky enough to be a part of this project with two of my close friends, Payton and Eric. Of course, being a part of the course and tutorial and doing these trips, I befriended my teaching assistant, Jonas, and professor, Paul. We made a great team and personally, by the end of the term I had used a lot of my knowledge from classes and gained practical skills.
The above photos are from Payton and I’s first trip to the site together: before and after a long days work. I am so lucky to have had this opportunity to spend time with her as we both gain experience in our field of work.
On the left if the very beat up Newcombs Wildflower Guide, our most used field guide for this project. Photo features Jonas and Eric, both hard at work, in the background. By the end of the work term the team had memorized dozens of plant’s scientific and common names.