Tag Archives: Jana Aker

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: http://www.nri.nu.ca/ ) 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.


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

On the move

Team Goose’s work in Goose Bay, Newfoundland, is complete and the team has been travelling to their next destination:  Schefferville, Quebec.  

Team Goose in Goose Bay, NL

Their email update describes some of the “hazards” of travelling and doing field work in more remote locations.   You should ask them sometime about their “fun” plane trip, and I think it’s more than safe to say that they are experiencing a major case of culture shock in their new environment.   The team leader will be joining them tomorrow, then hopefully the work will get underway. 

Team Moose has wrapped up their work in Moosonee, Ontario and is preparing to journey northward to Churchill, Manitoba for the next round of standardized sampling.   Once their equipment has been cleaned and re-packed, they’ll hop on the Polar Bear Express for the first leg of the journey.  Air travel should bring them to Manitoba by Wednesday. 

Meanwhile, in Kugluktuk, the standardized sampling is going well.  Angut has left for a canoe trip, but Crystal has been able to find a replacement bear monitor, so the work will continue.   In between servicing traps and hunting mosquito larvae, she’s been getting to know the local flora (with 24 hour daylight, these plant excursions are very often at 12-1 a.m.!); the flowers of spring/early summer are quite beautiful. 

Arctic Poppy (Papaver radicatum)

Tales from the field: aquatic sampling, exploding malaises, black flies attack!

Updates were received from Teams Moose and Goose today…here they are in their own words: From Chris (Goose):

Hi all – good day for team goose today – got all four streams done and 1 of 2 ponds. Caught some HUGE stonefly larvae.  It was a bit warmer today and we snagged some leps, hover flies, and packed four vials with black fly larvae.  The team is pretty tired but in good spirits- we do our first check of pans/pits etc. tomorrow.

And from Doug (Moose):

In the spirit of the World Cup, I must report that the black flies are having a field day with Jana.  Although she wore her bug jacket today, it seems that she neglected to zip the hood up.  The results of this neglect are amply illustrated in the attached pic.  See especially her beet-red ear.  Anyway, I hope Jana will soon have an opportunity to wreak revenge on their babies!

Also attached is a wider shot of the “exploding head” malaise trap,  showing the site characteristics.  I don’t think we could have found a  better site for snagging tabanids!  Today we found a considerably more  mesic site where we deployed the rest of the pan and pitfall traps.  We also found time to sample the “stream pond”, which yielded quite a few caddies, mayflies and odonates (among other things).

Boy, Doug wasn’t kidding about poor Jana’s blackfly encounter -0uch!  Let this be a lesson to you all: don’t forget to zip!

Meet the Team: Jana Aker

This post is the first in a series of “Meet the Team” profiles.  Each week we will introduce a new member of the NBP team; members will describe their background, role in the NBP and thoughts about the upcoming field season in their own words.  We hope you enjoy getting to know us!

This week’s team member is Jana Aker, a M.Sc. student at the University of Prince Edward Island.


I am from Sydney, Nova Scotia and I obtained a B.Sc. in Biology at Cape Breton University, where I took a variety of ecology related courses including entomology courses. My interest in insects started with a summer job that I held after my first year of university. I worked for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in the plant protection program which involved trapping and collecting insects in order to monitor the spread of invasive pests. I collected many different species and was fascinated by the variation and wanted to know more, so I enrolled in my first entomology course. Insects continue to catch my attention and I am really looking forward to the experience in the north to see what species are there.

The groups of insects that I will be looking at for the Northern Biodiversity Program (NBP) are the EPT’s, or in other words, Ephemeroptera (mayflies), Plecoptera (stoneflies) and Trichoptera (caddisflies). I will be collecting the aquatic nymphs and the terrestrial adults of these groups, identifying them and comparing the species that I find to the species that were collected during the Northern Insect Survey in the 1950’s and 60’s. When I tell people that I am going to be spending my summer in the Arctic they cannot understand why I would possibly want to spend the summer somewhere cold, but I am really looking forward to the experience. I get to spend 7 weeks of my summer with a team of very goal oriented and enthusiastic people in places that not many people get to see.  It is going to be a really great summer.

NBP in the News: “Northern Bug Study Tracks Climate Change”

Click here to read the full article published at cbc.ca

Also, look in the sidebar for the link to audio of an interview with students Jana Aker and Christine Roussel where they describe the upcoming field season and their research.