Eight excellent applications were received for the 2016 MSE Research Award, summarized below. Winner of the $7,500 prize will be announced at the 2016 Muskoka Summit on the Environment during the Friday evening dinner on May 27th.
The main research objectives of this study are to improve understanding of both surface water hydrology in the Canadian Shield environment and impacts of dam management decisions on surface water. Tools will be developed to assist water operators in forecasting streamflow and adhering to regulatory constraints in the Muskoka and Madawaska watersheds.
This study will create an extensive moss species catalogue for the Muskoka region, as well as collect the commonly used biomonitoring moss species (Hylocomium splendens and/or Pleurozium schreberi) at regular spaced locations throughout the watershed. The objective is to provide a high-resolution assessment of the spatial variability of atmospheric deposition across the Muskoka region. These data will also be submitted to the International Co-operative Programme (ICP) on Vegetation under the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution, as the Canadian submission to their regular repeat survey. This has the benefit of setting the Muskoka analysis in the context of the wide-scale European assessment.
This research project will expand the present body of literature by examining how climate-induced changes on lake ice are influencing the ecosystems of north temperate lakes. The first objective is to identify how the lake ice phenology has changed on nine lakes over the last 35 years. The second objective is to determine how the changes in lake ice phenology influenced the lakes’ ecosystems physically, chemically and biologically. The nine lakes being studied are: Harp Lake, Huntsville, Lake 239, ELA (Experimental Lakes Area) and Sparkling Lake, Allequash Lake, Big Muskellunge Lake, Crystal Lake, Crystal Bog, Trout Lake, Trout Bog, Wisconsin.
The main research objective is the development of a methodology for the continuous assessment, mapping, and monitoring of present and historic forest disturbance and degradation trends and their projections under climate change using remote sensing technology, existing ground measurements, and predictive models in the Muskoka area. Specifically, the research will identify, test, and set up procedures for the continuous monitoring of forest disturbance and degradation throughout the Muskoka forested area and climate change impacts on these forests.
The research will link predation of an invader on a native prey species with evolved phenotypic variation in antipredator traits, and then link this phenotypic variation with deviation in community assembly. The first hypothesis is that the introduction of an invasive predator will induce rapid and adaptive evolutionary responses in natural populations of prey species. The second hypothesis is that the evolution of a strong competitor in response to selection pressure by an invasive predator will influence subsequent community assembly of native competitors occupying the same trophic level as the prey species.
The research will assess variation in tolerances of daphniids to Calcium (Ca) decline, by comparing survival and reproduction of populations of Daphnia pulicaria across lakes with different Ca concentrations. Although the effects of Ca decline on Daphnia spp has been studied, only one study has examined the effect of Ca on multiple populations of a single species. Quantifying tolerance to low-Ca among populations will allow us to determine if variation in Ca tolerance exists within a single species, and how regional location affects the ability of a population to tolerate low-Ca conditions.
The research will increase the understanding of human-carnivore conflict in order to suggest better strategies to conserve the Eastern wolf and the agricultural industry. It will help in the decision making process of predator conservation management programs, and create an awareness campaign and stewardship program for the public on the threatened Eastern wolf.
The research will seek to identify residential areas within the Muskoka region that are vulnerable to significant flooding, and to design cost-effective retrofit flood mitigation systems which can be implemented by residents.