And now for something completely different….
My work has taken a detour away from bats, to horses and dunes! I have been so fortunate to be working as a Research Manager for the Sable Island Institute. They have partnered with Parks Canada to launch a large study to better understand the very unique, every-changing ecosystem on this beautiful, majestic, remote island: Fences in the Sand
With upwards of 500 horses grazing on the island, a frequent question that gets asked is “how do the horses influence the island’s ecosystems and organisms”? To answer this, we will keep horses out of 9 plots (1ha or less) on the island and monitor how things change, and we will compare these changes to where horses continue to have access.
Before excluding the horses, I spent 2 months during summer 2021 collecting data on the island’s geomorphology, soil quality, soil communities, plant communities, and invertebrate communities. I had a lot of help from an amazing field technician, Erica Geldart, as well as the awesome Parks Canada Summer Intern, Almeera Ahmed.
The data we collected will be used to monitor changes over the next 4 years to examine what happens when horses are excluded from the 9 areas. To exclude horses, myself, Parks Canada staff, and a hard-working group of volunteers spent 2 weeks in the fall building electric fences.
Now we wait…and collect data over the next 4 summers to track any changes! Stay tuned to see what we find out!