ENSC Students Chopping Down Trees!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

ENSC students removing a tree stump as part of the restoration effort to reclaim the sand dune habitat.By Dr. Richard Amos

You generally might expect to find Environmental Science students planting trees, but at the Pinhey Sand Dunes, removal of the encroaching forest and organic debris is key to maintaining the biodiversity in this unique habitat. As part of this year’s ENSC 2000 Environmental Science Field Camp, students visited the Pinhey Sand Dunes to help in the restoration project and study the rare species found on the dunes.

The Pinhey sand dune complex is a remnant of the retreating Champlain Sea at the tail end of the last glaciation event. Starting as early as the 1930’s and through to the 1960’s, in an effort to make the land productive and prevent blowing sand from adversely affecting neighbouring farmland, red pines and other conifers were planted on the dunes. By 2010 only 1 % of the original dune complex remained. In the same year, Biodiversity Conservancy International (BCI) began a restoration effort to reclaim significant portions of the dune and provide key habitat for the distinctive species native to the dunes (Dang and Aitken, 2014, Biodiversity).

The ENSC class visited the sand dunes on September 18th and teamed up with Tiger Beetle expert Dr. Henri Goulet to assess the abundance and distribution of tiger beetle larvae burrows in the dunes. This assessment will help determine the success of the restoration efforts and guide future projects at the site. Students also worked with Dr. Pete Dang and Mr. Andrew Mott of the Biodiversity Conservancy to clear additional section of the dunes. The team of 37 students cleared tree stumps and other forest debris from sections of the dunes that had been previously planted with pines. The enthusiastic effort of the students was appreciated by Dr. Dang who noted that it would normally take several days to accomplish what the ENSC students did in a few hours.

 

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Dr. Richard Amos is a faculty member who is cross-appointed between the Institute of Environmental Science and the Department of Earth Sciences. He has two graduate students in Earth Sciences who went on this trip as Teaching Assistants. 
 
 

ENSC Students count Tiger Beetle larvae burrows to assess the success of the rehabilitation efforts at the Pinhey Sand Dunes.

ENSC Students count Tiger Beetle larvae burrows to assess the success of the rehabilitation efforts at the Pinhey Sand Dunes.
 

Tiger Beetle on the Pinhey Sand Dunes

Tiger Beetle on the Pinhey Sand Dunes