TWENTY-THIRD ANNUAL REPORT
TO FRIENDS OF THE
TAIGA BIOLOGICAL STATION
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1996 Taiga Activity Photo Mosaic #1
1996 Taiga Activity Photo Mosaic #2
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GENERAL AND CLASSES
We brought the "Iron Pig" passenger and freight-hauling sled to Winnipeg where it was overhauled by David Wright; welds and brazes redone, broken parts replaced, and everything painted a shiny black. When it was returned to TBS Ian Gilchrist made a new plywood bottom, back and front. It now looks and acts like a new sled.
Another wonderful addition is a truly new (not used or second-hand) propane-operated refrigerator. Boreal Ecology class consisted of Jeff Asmundson, Michael Goodyear, Deena Dreikluft and Monica Reid-Wong. They made (and slept in) a very handsome quin-zhee.
Freeze-up was barely completed when there was a heavy fall of damp snow. The young ice cover was bowed down by the weight of the snowcover, resulting in frequent areas of slush on Wallace Lake. There was thick snowcover in the woods, about 1 meter by the time of the Mammalogy field trip.
I officially retired (unofficially known as "restructured") on 30 June 1996. 1 continue to teach Mammalogy on contract, while Dr. Rick Riewe has taken over teaching of Boreal Ecology. Mammalogy class consisted of Maria M'Lot, Aaron Zuccolin, Melissa Gibbons, Monica Reid-Wong, and, at the time of the winter field trip, volunteers Pam Vust and Boyan Tracz, with Allan Benoit as Demonstrator. We had continuous low temperatures (most days -35°C to -38°C with two mornings of -40°C).
The Mammalogists Biathlon was won by Monica Reid-Wong in a time of 2:29:30.
The annual sampling of the small mammal plots revealed very low populations for the third year in a row. We had a working visit during the summer from Dr. A. Lackey who spent several days collecting Peromyscus for his taxonomic review.
In early December Ian Gilchrist and Boyan Tracz were travelling from the garage to TBS with the SkiDoo and Iron Pig (loaded) when they became trapped in slush. During their efforts to get free, Ian twisted his weak knee and was unable to walk. Boyan got him back to the garage and then into Winnipeg for medical diagnosis. He was put on bed rest and then on crutches with physiotherapy. At present writing the prognosis is not good, with surgery probable. All this has meant his field work has come to a halt.
The annual Manitoba Museum research visit occurred between 3 and 6 September. Ms. Jackie Krindle, Assistant Curator of Botany at the Museum and Mr. David Wright, Volunteer, made up the party.
"We arrived at Wallace Lake late afternoon on September 3rd. We sampled the plots on the Jack Pine Ridge in the evening but found only three of the four plots before dark. We set out for Cabin Lake the morning of the 4th. The morning was sunny and warm but the forecast was for rain later in the day. The trail to Little Caribou Lake was very well cleared and marked and generally dry except for the low areas adjacent to creeks and bogs. As we were fairly late in the season, the only plants in flower were the occasional late asters. Some grasses and sedges had begun to turn golden. Adequate moisture during the summer had allowed for healthy plant growth and still-ripening dew berries and raspberries were available for welcome snacks.
"Just past Little Caribou Lake we sampled the triple bum plots. David resprayed the markers and assisted me while I photographed the plots and recorded the data. The trail to Cabin Lake seemed to be flagged over a couple of different routes and was somewhat confusing to me as I had not previously travelled this trail. The trail was dry over the rocks and wet in low, boggy areas. Bill Conley's cabin was in good shape and a welcome sight. We began sampling the plots at the cabin in the evening. We observed very little sign of wildlife over the two days. We saw a few scats of bear and wolf but heard very few birds except for the occasional flock of Canada geese. However, we did see red squirrels at Bill's cabin and when the rain and thunder began on the night of the 4th. we had one of them move in with us.
"The morning of the 5th was overcast and damp. We completed the sampling of the Cabin Lake 1976 fire plots but we could not use the spray paint in the rain to remark the stakes. We decided to hike back to the station as we felt that a wait for good weather might be a long one. As it turned out we were right, but hiking in the rain made the rocks slippery and the log bridges extremely slick. A challenging hike back was made complete by a hail storm which hit us near the Jack Pine Sand Plain. We arrived at the Station safe and sodden.
"September 6th was just like the 5th, the morning was overcast with intermittent drizzle and the occasional sunny break. We sampled and photographed the Black Spruce Bog plots in the morning then headed back to the Jack Pine Ridge to find the plot we had missed earlier. We hiked back to the Jack Pine Sand Plain to photograph and collect data at the four plots in the afternoon. Chanterelles were common. The sun shone in the afternoon but the weather was still unsettled as we headed back to Bissett in the evening for a late drive back to Winnipeg.
"As I have not sampled these fire plots previously I feel that I cannot offer much in the way of comparative comments. When the data are analyzed by Dr. Karen Johnson I expect that relevant comparative conclusions will emerge from this season's research.
"Thanks are due to the Taiga Biological Station for the logistical support for this field work in 1996. I am grateful for the opportunity to have contributed to this fire succession research project and am most grateful to David Wright for his help in locating the plots and assisting me in gathering the data."
March 12, 1997
We had visits by two groups from Outward Bound. One, consisting of. Don Galloway, Tamar Zicke, Jason Williams, Jee-Young Kim, Sadie Johnstone, Elena Rosenbaum, Diane Carol Ryan, Pojo Rose, Eric Laing, Terry Barrott, Cheyenne Shaner and Aisha Siffert cleared trails and carried a canoe to Little Caribou Lake. Another group visited later in the summer and did selective cutting of marked pines on Home Hill and consisted of: Jody Kemmorer, Sarah Forbes, Lisa Passerello, Jim Anderson, John Kostel, Elizabeth Donneces, Robert Berder, Katie Fesces and Jon Albright.
In August a crew from CBC-TV The Nature of Things spent several days with us. They filmed a discussion by Pruitt of the effects of the 1980 fire on the Black Spruce Bog plot, live-trapping and radio-collaring a Clethrionomys by Gilchrist and Pruitt on the Aspen Plot, a lecture on ecology of the taiga on Evergreen Island and on the unburned southwestern shore of Wallace Lake, also by Pruitt.
We were thoroughly impressed with their professional abilities and the knowledge of the subject they brought with them. The presentation on ecology and the future of the taiga or boreal forest is supposed to be seen on CBC some time this winter or spring, although I strongly urged them to return in the winter to film the taiga in its full glory.
Hugh Sutherland, Chim Wong, Drs. Brian, Margaret and Michelle Wheatley, University of Alaska Bookstore, Mr. and Mrs. Alf Cranstone, Joe Eskow, Kim Tyson and John Shearer, all made financial contributions, for which we are very grateful.
Pruitt, W.O., Jr. (Editor). 1996. The Caribou Commons. A Project to Protect the Caribou of Manitoba (Boreal Ecology 1995 Class Project). Wild Earth 6 (2):70-78.
Schaefer, J.A. 1996. Canopy, snow and lichens on woodland caribou range in southeastern Manitoba. Rangifer, Special Issue No. 9:239-243.
Wheatley, Michelle. 1996. Nature's Winter laboratory in the far north. University of Helsinki Quarterly XVI:10-13.
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