Saturday, January 14, 2012

January 6 2012-sunrise


That Friday morning, I could see a high pressure, cold front coming in from the North. This happens often in the autumn, and in this case in the winter. The effect is to clear the upper atmosphere of water vapor. These stunning sunrises are the result.

Friday, January 13, 2012

What is the "Rondeau Watershed"?

Or, for that matter, what is a watershed anyway?

The term, "watershed" came into English use around 1800 and is used to describe a lowland that acts as a drainage or catchment basin, adjacent to a river or larger body of water. The root, "shed" comes from the Old English verb "sceadan" meaning to divide or separate, or slough off.

Watersheds are significant landscape features with defined boundaries, common physical features, specific habitats and where communities of adapted species, live and reproduce. Drainage flow from surrounding uplands is buffered by woodlands grasslands and marshes. What this means, in a functional watershed, is that the rate of flow is spread out over a longer period of time, the water velocity is slower and suspended sediments are less likely to be washed into lakes. As well, functional watersheds, with a canopy of trees, cool the water and provide breeding and feeding habitat for fish and invertebrates.

Watersheds are characterized by networks of streams in the uplands and lower wetlands like bogs sloughs and marshes. The Rondeau Watershed extents south of the Blenheim moraine (Talbot Street) to Rondeau Bay, East to Road 51, (Kent Bridge Road) and West to Road 12, (Erieau Road). This area comprises a 125 square kilometer drainage basin.

Watersheds also change the chemistry of out flowing waters by providing time for the slightly acidic rainfalls to dissolve minerals, essential for aquatic species. Nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, which are a byproduct of plant and animal decomposition, normally leach into surface runoff at a relatively constant rate. Algae and microorganisms establish colonies on surfaces within streams and watercourses and act as biological filters that can remove significant portions of Nitrogen and Phosphorus. Where watercourses widen and slow, beds of organic muck containing trillions of microorganisms metabolize the nitrogen in the absence of oxygen producing methane. In marshes and within the water, green plants take up as much phosphorus as they can and grow. Remaining phosphorus produces algal growth and can, when excessive lead to algal blooms.

To sum up, watersheds slow, cool and clean runoff water.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Water Quality Monitoring

In my time with the Rondeau Watershed Coalition and the University of Guelph, I have had the opportunity to compile various WQM datasets and reports. Also, check out my Picasa Photostream for more about WQM and Rondeau Bay

Rondeau Bay Watershed Collection Data 1984.pdf

Rondeau Bay Watershed Data Collection-1983-85.pdf

Greater Rondeau Important Bird Area Conservation Plan

...more to come

Measuring Biodiversity

Over the past several years, I've been privileged to be able to contribute the the Environmental Management Program at the Ridgetown Campus, University of Guelph. One of the fun things we do in March is to go to Clear Creek Nature Preserve and practice benthic monitoring using a 1m^2 kicknet and a 3 min. kick. Deb Hills and Sandy MacDonald get a day off from teaching and we practice some applied science in a living laboratory. Here's an Excel spreadsheet that calculates Simpson and Shannon biodiversity, and species richness and evenness StreamSamples22_03_07.xls The data values from that year are already there and can be overwritten, as well Family Biotic index can be derived from the Tolerance values.

If you want to get a better feel for the way biodiversity values are affected by populations, heres a toy spreadsheet that gives a better sense of they way this works.

Yellow Lotus of Rondeau Bay


Rondeau Bay holds some interesting and beautiful surprises. Over the
past few years in my kayak, I've visited an expanding grove among the
west shore of the bay. In these warm, still evenings of July and
August, paddling northeast from Shrewsbury, one can find along the
shoreline, over an acre of yellow lotus (nelumbo lutea).

Southwestern Ontario is the extreme northern limit of its range.
Yellow Lotus can also be found at Cedar Beach, Walpole Island and the
grassy inlets of Lake St. Clair. It grows in still, warm shallow water
(up to 8 feet) from a muddy bottom.

Once established, the lotus spreads an extensive system of underground
stems, which produce large edible tubers. An important food source,
the yellow lotus was cultured and spread by first nations peoples
across Eastern North America centuries ago.

The flower lasts only 2 days and closes every night. After the petals
drop off, the conical seedpod continues to grow and eventually reaches
a diameter of about 3 inches. In its flat top are about 20 holes, each
containing a seed the size of a small pea.

By autumn the conical seed pods will have dried and fallen into the
water where they'll float, pointy end up, and eventually release the
hard, brown edible seeds. To germinate, the seeds hard exterior must
either be scraped (scarified), which happens due to wave action along
the Lake Erie shoreline at Cedar Beach or will spontaneously occur
after a dormancy of decades or even hundreds of years.

The large round leaves (between 12 and 18 inches) resemble lily pads
although some are held aloft, above the water by a rigid stalk. A
remarkable property of the upper surface of the leaves is that they
repel water so that water beads and rolls. Often within individual
drops, can be seen tiny swimming crustaceans, made plainly visible by
the lens-like shape of the drop.

Much of the lotus’ habitat has been threatened by siltation and other
water pollution, by dredging, hardening, and other shoreline
alterations and motor boat traffic through the groves. In Rondeau Bay
this grove is in a location relatively protected from wind and wave

In Buddhist traditions, the lotus symbolizes purification of the mind,
of speech and the body and the open blossom signifies enlightenment.