MOUNTAIN LIFE - Blue Mountains | Fall 2019

58 Set on Lake Sasajewun , a modest waterbody in venerable Algonquin Provincial Park, AWRS acts as a base from which researchers in sub-boreal ecosystems can access 30,000 pristine acres of park not open to the public. Since its inception in 1944 as a closed-door government facility, the station has provided scientists with logistical support in the form of accommodation, food, laboratory space and equipment. A decades- long series of funding cuts saw it morph to an incorporated non-profit in 2009 to stay afloat, but the new paradigm came with an unexpected upside—bringing the AWRS’s rich history of scientific research and natural heritage programming into the public eye. Comprising some of the most comprehensive studies of Canadian wildlife anywhere, AWRS research has generated some 700 peer-reviewed papers in the primary scientific literature and innumerable PhDs. Every student who cycles through contributes to one or more long-term studies while also executing their own dedicated project. With generations of researchers having passed through its musty cabins, the station’s influence is impressive and lasting, with ties to every corner of the globe. Many who carried out student projects here are now globally-renowned scientists, and during three summers in the late 1940s, iconic Canadian artist Robert Bateman studied small mammals here while also honing his painting skills. Most AWRS long-term ecological studies—from snapping turtles (46 years) to spotted salamanders (20 years) to small mammals (66 years) to Canada jay (50 years)—have been underway since before climate change came onto the biological radar, fortuitously providing baseline data against which recent trends may be measured. The Canada jay study, for instance, is one of few globally where a clear mechanism of precipitous decline—early spring thaws that affect food availability for hatchlings—is directly attributable to climate change. Other long-term studies reveal the kind of mysteries that justify such patient data-gathering. In 2018, an enormous male snapping turtle, first captured and marked at age 40ish in 1979 and last seen in 1996, made its first reappearance in 22 years, age 80ish. Where had it been? What had it been doing? LEFT Painted turtles marked in the lab and identifiable from a distance are released back into their native pond where their social behaviour will be studied. LESLIE ANTHONY. RIGHT Albert Murray Fallis, Father of Canadian Parasitology, investigating the blood parasites of birds under the microscope (ca. early 1950s) COURTESY AWRS ARCHIVES Comprising some of the most comprehensive studies of Canadian wildlife anywhere, AWRS research has generated some 700 peer-reviewed papers in the primary scientific literature and innumerable PhDs.

RkJQdWJsaXNoZXIy MTQ0Nzg=