Every winter, the Queen’s University Department of Biology runs a course in conservation biology (BIOL422). The final project of this course involves planning a local conservation project, and many students choose to involve the Kingston Chapter to help promote their project, as a source of information, or to continue their project past the course end date. This web page is designed as both a resource and an archive for future conservation work in both the local area and in Canada.
2016-2017 Proposed Projects and Conservation Issues
Anna Li: Avian Mortality and Domestic Cats
Over the world at large (Pimm et al. 2006) and in North America in particular (NABCI 2016), populations of many wild bird species are declining. Humans are responsible for the destruction of an estimated 269 million birds and 2 million nests in Canada annually (Calvert et al. 2013). Among the sources of avian mortality are cats (Felis catus), buildings, electrical power, transportation, harvest, agriculture, forestry, communication, oil and gas, fisheries, and mining (Calvert et al. 2013). Predation by feral and domestic cats and collisions with transmission lines, houses, and vehicles are the leading causes of human-related avian mortality in Canada. Together, these five sources account for greater than 95% of all human-related bird fatalities in the country (Calvert et al. 2013). Cat predation is the most significant human-related source of avian mortality in Canada (Calvert et al. 2013).
What can we do?
- Put bells on your cat’s collar.
- Place bird feeders high off of the ground.
Hillary Quinn-Austin: Ecofriendly Waterfronts On the Rideau Canal Waterway
The importance of Natural Shorelines
The Rideau Canal waterway is a string of beautiful lakes, rivers, and wetlands that stretches from Kingston to Ottawa. Along this waterway, shoreline habitats are home to numerous types of wildlife, and their beauty are what makes this region so vibrant.
Shorelines are the transition from land to water, and are critical habitat for many species worldwide. Wildlife species use shorelines for food, shelter, breading and rearing of young. Without natural shorelines, we may see less of the wildlife that make the Rideau Canal waterway so special.
Natural shorelines are also important for maintaining the processes that keep our waterways healthy and clean. Without strong layers of vegetation, including trees, shrubs, flowers, grasses, and aquatic vegetation, shorelines can degrade. Plants and their roots prevent erosion, runoff, and keep water clear and beautiful. A hardened shoreline, which includes mowed down lawns, pavement, retaining walls, and riprap, can lead to turbid water and algal blooms from erosion and nutrient influx. This degrades wildlife habitat, causes a loss of recreational opportunities, and can contaminate drinking water sources.
Why should we care?
Waterfront properties are some of the most valuable and loved places to live. People cherish being able to retreat to the comforts of the wilderness, either permanently or seasonally. The Rideau Canal waterway is a popular destination for tourism and waterfront properties, and as shoreline development continues to increase, the sensitive landscapes that make it so beautiful are put at risk.
If the natural shorelines are lost, water clarity, safe swimming areas, and our favourite plants and animals may slowly disappear. Species at risk, including many birds, turtles, and fish, are especially vulnerable to the effects of shoreline degradation. If we want to maintain the joys of our valuable wilderness properties for future generations, we must be aware of the current impacts we may be making on the landscape.
For these reasons, it is essential to find ways to reduce our impact on the waterway, preserve the natural system, and strive to create ecofriendly and sustainable waterfront properties!
What can we do?
There are many simple ways we can make our waterfront properties more sustainable and healthy! It starts with keeping the property natural – avoid creating hard landscapes with lawns and pavement. It is essential to keep a natural vegetated shoreline buffer between your property and the water body. Be careful when building docks, boathouse and swimming areas to maintain aquatic vegetation and protect sensitive wetland habitats.
It is also important to avoid the used of fertilizers, pesticides, detergents with phosphorus, and leaky septic systems – these can all lead to polluted water, algal blooms, and turbid water. Lastly, we always want to avoid the spread of invasive plants and animals like zebra mussels. Make sure to plant native plants and always wash boats and other aquatic equipment before moving between water bodies.
Explore these resources to learn more about how to create a healthy, natural waterfront!
A Shoreline Owner’s Guide to Healthy Waterfronts (FOCA) https://foca.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/Shoreline_Owners_Guide_2015/index.html
Information for Shoreline Property Owners along the Rideau Canal waterway (Parks Canada) http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/on/rideau/visit/riverains-shoreline.aspx
Shoreline Naturalization Program – see ‘Shoreline Naturalization Resources’ (Rideau Valley Conservation Authority) http://www.rvca.ca/programs/shoreline_naturalization_program/index.html
Ecology of the Rideau Region – see ‘Permits and Regulations’ (Rideau-info.com) http://rideau-info.com/canal/ecology/index.html
The Nature of the Rideau River (Canadian Museum of Nature) http://www.nature.ca/rideau/h/h2-e.html
Love your Lake (Watersheds Canada) http://watersheds.ca/our-work/love-your-lake/
The Natural Edge (Watersheds Canada) http://watersheds.ca/our-work/the-natural-edge/
Please share the following infographic with friends and family who own a shoreline property in Ontario!