Arctic Hare
Credit: Darroch Whitaker | Parks Canada

Citizen Scientists Wanted: Have you Seen an Arctic Hare?

Little is known about arctic hare populations in Newfoundland. In 2012, the Species Status Advisory assessed arctic hare and determined their analysis was “data deficient”. Since 2012, little has been accomplished to improve our understanding of arctic hare populations in Newfoundland. The Qalipu Natural Resources division is working to improve our understanding of arctic hare, and you can help!

If you spot an arctic hare while travelling through arctic-alpine or exposed barren areas, please complete our sighting report form to let us know about it. The information you provide is considered “citizen science data”. This important data is used to compliment long-term research and provides for additional surveillance of artic hare populations on the island of Newfoundland. You can find our sighting report form here.

Identifying Characteristics

The arctic hare is the largest of the North American hares weighing between 3.5 – 6.0 kilograms when fully grown. Their winter coat is pure white with the exception of black tips on their long ears. In our province, which is the southernmost limit of the hares’ North American distribution, the hares’ habitat is primarily barren within the vicinity of boulder fields.  Subsequently, their summer coat is typically bluish gray with white underparts.

Where you Might Spot an Arctic Hare

On the island of Newfoundland, the population is restricted to arctic-alpine areas of the Long Range Mountains, interior western plateaus or exposed coastal barrens including areas in Gros Morne National Park, the Long Range and Annieopsquotch Mountains, and the Buchans – Topsail plateau. Unfortunately there has been no island-wide distribution surveys since 1981, so the extent of the core population of the arctic hare outside the Long Range Mountains and Buchans – Topsail plateau remains largely unknown. (Hearn, 2012)

For more information on the arctic hare click here.

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Qalipu Natural Resource Division to Host Engagement Sessions, Review Proposed changes to Fisheries and Navigation Protection Acts

Later this month the Qalipu First Nation Natural Resource Division (QNR) will host engagement sessions with members to request input on the federal government review of the changes to the Fisheries Act and the Navigation Protection Act.  The focus of the review is restoration of lost protections and the addition of modern safeguards to both Acts.  It is important that our First Nation community provide input regarding the best ways to safeguard our fish and fish habitat for future generations, as well as comment on the impact of legislation change on the long-term viability of commercial and recreational use of Canada’s waterways.

QNR is requesting that Band members come forward and participate in one of two upcoming regional engagement sessions to be held in Western and Central Newfoundland.  Feedback can be provided to us in-person at the sessions, or through written submissions to the email below.

Regional sessions will be held in the following locations:
Corner Brook (Western): January 24th at 6:00 pm in the Qalipu Community Room at 1 Church St.
Grand Falls-Windsor (Central): January 26th at 6:00 pm in the Qalipu Community Room at 28 Hardy Ave.  Light refreshments will be provided.

For background information on the Fisheries Act changes, please visit here. For background information on the Navigation Protection Act changes, please visit here.

For more information on the work of QNR and the upcoming engagement sessions please contact:

Andrea Coombs, Natural Resources Technician
Tel: 709-634-1500
E-mail: acoombs@qalipu.ca

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Pictured here are researchers Mary Elsa Young and Madonna Louvelle at work in Qalipu’s Stephenville office along with interviewee Rodney Bennett. Rodney is one of many members of the Band who are contributing their knowledge of woodland caribou species. Rodney is also one of Qalipu’s River Guardians.

Two Weeks Left to Participate: Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Research on Woodland Caribou in Newfoundland

The purpose of the Woodland Caribou Study according to Melissa Brake, Project Manager,  is to “formally collect and document Traditional Knowledge on the woodland caribou species including such topics as historical population trends, distribution and behavior in the Bay St. George area.”

Jonathan Strickland, Manager of the Qalipu Natural Resource Division added, “Sometimes researchers might overlook the value of our elders’ traditional knowledge and oral history.  As an indigenous organization we understand the value.  Through this project we hope not only to collect and preserve this valuable knowledge, but also build on it by following up with collecting scientific data in the field that supports what our elders have told us.”

If you haven’t scheduled your interview yet, please do so.  This project will end on November 25th.  Please contact Madonna or Mary Elsa at 649-0593.

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Calling for Participants: Caribou Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Study

Qalipu First Nation is conducting an Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Study on Woodland Caribou in the Bay St. George area. We are looking to gather traditional knowledge regarding the species based on topics such as historical population trends, distribution and behavior. Please click the link below to view more information regarding the study and find out how you can participate.

For all the details, please click here to view the poster

 

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Elver Abundance Study Summary Report 2014

Anguilla rostrata has two juvenile stages, the elver and the glass eel. The glass eels migrate northward from the Sargasso Sea every year to reside in the fresh groundwater systems or the estuarine/brackish areas and return after maturation for breeding. The time at which it takes for eels to mature is dependent on both size and environmental conditions. This project was deigned to track temporal variance in abundance to indicate start, finish, and peak migration times of elvers and glass eels in Harry’s River, NL.

 

Click here to read more about this report

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Commercial Eel Harvest Monitoring 2014

Monitoring of the commercial eel harvest is an opportunistic practice that has been employed by Qalipu Mi’Kmaq First Nation Band for a number of years to collect, document or to track temporal variation/changes in the population dynamics of population information of the American eel (Anguilla rostrata). This includes individual weight, length, life stage ratio, and abnormalities such as red mouth and skin lesions. The American eel is a very culturally significant species for the Mi’kmaq people of Newfoundland. Along with being an important food source the American eel is also used for ceremonial and medicinal purposes. It is for these reasons that we are studying the local population in Muddy Hole, Western Newfoundland, and Little Horwood Brook, Central Newfoundland.

This project involves cooperating with local fish harvester’s in Western and Central Newfoundland and recording a number of biological characteristics of the eels captured by the harvester. Work was done through collaborating with local fish harvesters as to satisfy the community engagement portion of our Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy agreement. This opportunistic monitoring was beneficial to Qalipu, local harvesters and the eel population as additional nets were not set in the study areas. This reduced the amount of working hours required to complete the study, competition for catch with local harvesters, and stress on the eel population. Parks Canada employees also took part in monitoring at the western field site.

Click here to read more about this report

Atlantic Salmon Redd Surveys 2014 – 2015

Salmon Redd surveys are part of the atalantic salmon monitoring activities that Qalipu
conducts annually, alternating between the Western and Central portions of Newfoundland.
These redd surveys are completed to analyse recruitment and return of resident populations to
areas previously unaccessible due to freshwater obstructions (i.e. inactive beaver dams and log
jams). Salmon Redd surveys were completed during the month of November for Coal Brook,
Sheep Brook and Dribble Brook. These surveys have been ongoing for several years and have
included over 20 study areas within Western and Central Newfoundland. Throughout this time
the Guardians have become quite experienced in completing the surveys and have been able to
complete them efficiently and effectively.

 

Click here to read more about this report

Eelgrass 2014-2015

Spatial variation in the abundance of eelgrass (Zostera marina) at eight sites in western Newfoundland, Canada

The abundance of eelgrass (Zostera marina) was quantified at eight sites along the west coast of Newfoundland (NL), Canada. Two video procedures were employed to generate preliminary data on the percent cover of eelgrass. A GoPro high definition camera was mounted on a two meter 1.3cm diameter PVC pipe and attached 30 cm above a 19 x 19 cm quadrat. Still images were generated of quadrats or of the benthos during free swims. A 3 x 3 grid was added to the center of each image and the mean percent cover was calculated from these grids. The percent cover of eelgrass ranged between 5.89 and 69.27 %. Eelgrass abundance increased between June/July and September at sites 2, 4, and 7, before decreasing again in October at site 7. Overall, the percent cover of eelgrass peaked at 81.18% in September at site 4. Globally, sea grasses are declining in response to multiple stressors, including eutrophication, shoreline development, climate change, and aquatic invasive species. Eelgrass provides critical ecosystem services to coastal environments by stabilizing shorelines, contributing organic biomass to coastal food webs, and by increasing habitat heterogeneity along shallow subtidal shores. The degradation and loss of this highly productive habitat can have dire consequences for the stability and integrity of coastal environments in Atlantic Canada. Efforts to conserve this habitat will have long term benefits for populations of commercially, recreationally, and culturally important coastal species.

 

Click here to read more about this report

Tunicates

Distribution and abundance of golden star tunicate (Botryllus schlosseri) and Botrylloides sp. on artificial and natural substrates at twelve sites in western Newfoundland, Canada.

The distribution and abundance of invasive colonial tunicates were documented at twelve sites along a ~270-km latitudinal gradient in western Newfoundland (NL), Canada. A combination of 10×10 and 15×15 cm polyvinyl chloride (PVC) panels were deployed on fixed and/or floating docks at each site between June and November 2014. The presence and abundance of invasive colonial tunicates were documented in September and November. Similar to patterns observed in 2013 (Caines personal observation), Botryllus schlosseri was found at Sites 1, 2 and 5, while Botrylloides sp. was observed at Site 2. Monthly sampling of 15×15 cm PVC panels, eelgrass (Zostera marina), rockweed (Fucus sp.), and kelp (Saccharina latissima) was conducted between September and November at Sites 1, 2 and 5 to determine spatial and temporal variation in the abundance of invasive colonial tunicates on artificial and natural substrates. Mean colony cover of B. schlosseri was 14.1 and 19.5% for panels sampled from floating docks in September for Sites 2 and 5, respectively, while mean cover of Botrylloides sp. was 3.7% on panels sampled from the fixed dock at Site 2. Interestingly, the frequency of occurrence for B. schlosseri colonies on rockweed increased from 20% in September to 100% in October at Site 2, while it decreased from 100% in September to 80% in October at Site 5. The frequency of Botrylloides sp. peaked at 50% and 70% on rockweed and kelp, respectively, in October at Site 2. The frequency of B. schlosseri on kelp specimens at Site 1 peaked at 40% in October, while kelp specimens from Site 2 had a peak colony frequency of 100% in September. Overall, the abundance of B. schlosseri on artificial and natural substrates was substantially lower at Site 1, which may be related to cooler sea temperature and increased wave exposure at this site.

Click here to read more about this report

Green Crab

Abundance , Distribution, and Mitigation of Green Crab

The European green crab (Carcinus maenas) has successfully invaded estauries and protected harbours from Port aux Basques to Port au Choix, along the west coast of Newfoundland (NL). Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nations (Qalipu) and Mi’kmaq Alsumk Mowimsikik Koqoey Association (MAMKA) have been studying and mitigating green crab in Bay St. George and Bay of Islands since 2009. We conducted rapid assessments and focused removal along a ~270 km latitudinal range from late July to early October to determine the abundance and distribution of green crab in western NL. We successfully removed 8050 green crab from all sites, with 3867 crab removed from Penguin Arm, Bay of Islands, over three nights. This year was the first step towards meaningful reductions of green crab in western NL and has set the framework for upcoming studies investigating the effects of green crab on eelgrass communities. The protection of this significant habitat is essential for maintaining healthy coastal ecosystems and conserving commercially, culturally, and recreationally important species.

Click here to read more about the Green Crab Report