Monthly Archives: July 2010

Updates from Lake Hazen and Iqaluit

From Chris Buddle, who has been working with Team Moose in Iqaluit:

Update from Team Moose in Iqaluit

Iqaluit has been great – although we had a few days of rain and cold, the weather has mostly been cooperative and the sampling has been spectacular.  On the warm days the butterflies, bumble bees, and wolf spiders have been incredibly active.  So too have been the swarms of mosquitoes! 

The team has serviced terrestrial traps once, and the samples look terrific.  Although the malaise heads are not full of tabanids, they are certainly brimming with a high diversity of flies.  One of our more exciting finds was a nest of the Arctic Yellowjacket (Dolichovespula norwegica)– this species has been found in Iqaluit before, but we now have “official” specimens, and are confident this species is overwintering in the tundra. 

 The aquatic sampling is also very productive:  the ponds are full of Trichoptera, and although the mayflies and stoneflies are not large, they are abundant.   Patrick has been overjoyed with the black fly collecting – in one day the team managed to collect black flies from at least ten different streams and rivers – ranging from tiny seeps emerging from the tundra to the impressive Sylvia Grinnell River, located just beside the Iqaluit Airport runway. 

We have also enjoyed a lot of local media coverage, including a TV spot on CBC north’s news program “Northbeat”. Chris Buddle did a public talk at Nunavut Arctic College that was well attended by entomology “enthusiasts” in town!  The team is also spending time with a kid’s Science Camp to talk about entomology.  Needless to say, the team has felt very welcome in Iqaluit, and there is a lot of local interest in topics related to insects and spiders of the North.  We are especially thankful for the Nunavut Research Institute (see: ) for logistical support, and for help from Jamal Shirley.

If you’d like to check out the CBC TV feature, click here (the clip is about 2/3 of the way through the program)

Update from Team Goose at Lake Hazen

Team Moose has been in contact (via Satellite phone) with Team Goose, currently at Lake Hazen.  Although they were two days delayed in Resolute Bay, the team arrived at Hazen and they have already set all their terrestrial traps.  On one day they reported temperatures of 15C (warmer than in Iqaluit!) and they also reported mosquito activity that day.  They report that “Camp Hazen” is quite comfortable considering the remoteness of the site, and their spirits are high.  They are, however, finding access to good aquatic sites somewhat difficult, and the streams and rivers are not that productive.  Three members of the team (Sarah, Meagan, Christine) also took a (quick and soap-free) swim in Hazen!  Floating among the ice floes….brrrrr.


NBP in the blogosphere

Word about the NBP is certainly spreading!  

We were contacted by the webmaster of Naskapi News, a blog devoted to topics of interest to the Naskapi people, who live in the Schefferville (Quebec) area.  You may recall that Team Goose was sampling in Schefferville earlier this month…


Please visit the Naskapi blog to check out their great feature on the NBP!

NBP in the news: The Creepy Crawlie Collector

The creepy crawlie collector

Crystal Ernst is spending her summer chronicling Kugluktuk’s shifting array of insects

(Jane George, Nunatsiaq News, July 19, 201o)
Dragonflies and grasshoppers.

 When you picture these two insects, you probably imagine them in a tropical climate— or at least some place in southern Canada.

 But now you can find both of these warmth-loving insects in the western Nunavut community of Kugluktuk, along with a variety of beetles, spiders, bumble bees and, of course, biting flies and mosquitoes.

The healthy and numerous bug population of Kugluktuk is one reason why Crystal Ernst, a graduate student from Montreal’s McGill Univ., came to the community this summer to collect insects and spiders.

Read the full article at Nunatsiaq News Online 

Moose/Goose Update

Our traveling teams have reached their final destinations.  Moose is hard at work in Iqaluit and we’ve received word that Goose has landed in Lake Hazen.  Both teams have let us know that things are going well, but they will also have extremely limited contact with us until they return south.  They do have satellite phones, which will be used for daily check-ins, but details and photographs of their adventures will have to wait for a few weeks.

Team Goose in Resolute

Members of Team Goose arrived safely in Resolute, Nunavut – the last stop before reaching their final destination at Lake Hazen.  Unfortunately, fog and inclement weather often dictate the movements of those wishing to travel by air in the north, and our Hazen-bound team is, well, earth-bound for now.  They seem to be making the most of their stay in this tiny hamlet, however:

From team leader Donna Giberson:

Hi guys… still in Resolute, and possibly won’t get out tomorrow; they’re not sounding hopeful, but we’re still keeping our fingers crossed.

We signed out a vehicle this afternoon, to take a look around (very very tiny place, and not much to see in town), and the Parks Canada archeologist came along to take us to a local Thule site; it was very neat.  It is partially reconstructed, and she gave us a really nice background to it.

Thule archaeological site

One of the Parks guys did a project on Linyphiid spiders here many years back for Paul Hebert, and did a bunch of pitfall trapping.  There is very little vegetation here, and it is sparse indeed.  It is mostly gravel, and Andrew (our Parks guy that did the spider study many years back) says that all of Cornwallis Island is a big gravel pile.  There are some scattered matts of low vegetation but with a lot of gravel in between, and he said that even the “lusher” sites aren’t very lush, at least compared to Ellesmere Island.  We did see a fly (in the cold and wind and fog).

Chilly-looking shoreline at Resolute

So, we’re here for the night at least, and still hopeful for tomorrow.  The P.M. is due here next week; hopefully we won’t still be here.

We’re keeping our fingers crossed for you!

Meet the Team: Kristen Vinke

Our latest profile features Kristen Vinke, M.Sc. student at the University of Prince Edward Island.

Kristen is the team leader for our fourth team: “Team Norman”.

During my undergraduate degree at the University of Calgary, I became interested in aquatic ecology which lead me to summer jobs and internships involving freshwater science, including stream assessments using aquatic invertebrates.   I chose the north for my Master’s because of the intriguing landscape and culture, which I discovered while canoeing the Mackenzie River a few years ago.

My Master’s project involved collecting invertebrate larvae from the bottoms of streams and adults along the banks of six streams in the Sahtu area, including two creeks in the town of Norman Wells. A local Dene summer student, Carrie Campbell, assisted with this work. The first objective was to determine whether subarctic stream assessment (using aquatic invertebrates) could be improved by modifying some of the sampling protocols that are commonly used in the south.

The subarctic biogeoclimatic features have resulted in unique traits in the aquatic invertebrate community, such as extended diapause and dominance of cold or freeze-tolerant species.  These traits result in different species composition, diversity, abundance and life cycle timing, compared to the south.  Sampling protocols should be tailored to the unique features of the north if accurate data are to be collected.  Therefore I am comparing standard ‘southern’ protocols to modified protocols to see which ones capture the most diversity and are able to distinguish different kinds of streams the best.

Additionally, the Sahtu had a biomonitoring program called the Bosworth Biomonitoring project, where local students participated in data collection.  However, the program emphasized water chemistry rather than invertebrates, so a high school-level guideline for sampling, processing and analyzing invertebrate data was needed.

Using the ‘best protocols’, combined with input from the community, teachers, and students from four of the five Sahtu communities (as well as one community in the Deh Cho area, Ft. Simpson), I developed a stream biomonitoring program that may be used in their science curriculum. The goal is for the students to use these guidelines to annually monitor the health of local streams.  Additionally, the benthic and terrestrial samples from this summer will add to species inventories for the Sahtu area.  The samples were gathered from a range of stream habitat types to try to capture as much of the diversity as possible.

Some teams have all the luck…

We’ve received a final update on Team Moose’s activities in Churchill, Manitoba. While some of us are still dearly hoping to see some of the larger, four-legged arctic fauna, it would appear that the gang in Churchill is incredibly lucky…perhaps too lucky?  Thank goodness for bear monitors! 

From Doug Currie, team leader: 


Hello All, 

Team Moose successfully completed its final day of collecting in Churchill. Our timing was good as there now seems to be an inordinate number of bears in the area. 


Today we saw a total of five bears, including a sow and two cubs. None of them were close enough to seriously disrupt our activities; but we noted that the sow and cubs were headed in the general direction of one of our traplines.  Sure enough, we later discovered that the cubs had great fun chewing on our yellow pan traps! 


Our only close-range visitor was a single large caribou that skirted a trapline as it headed toward Ramsay Lake. We weren’t sure whether it was trying to avoid the biting flies, or whether it was trying to escape something larger. Fortunately, we were once again accompanied by Carley, our ever vigilant bear monitor. 

Tomorrow is repacking day. And on Thursday we board a late morning flight to Winnipeg. Anna, Jana and Patrick will carry on to Iqaluit for a further two weeks of fieldwork, where they will be joined by new Team Leader Chris Buddle. Meanwhile, Doug will try to even-out his ‘farmer tan’ in Toronto, before departing for warmer climes in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica. Stay tuned for more exciting news from Team Moose as they enter into the final leg of their 2010 field season! 

Patrick, Anna, Jana, Carley - the last day in Churchill, Manitoba