Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute

Our Projects

Loon Research

Staff Contact: Colin Gray

The Common Loon is widely used as an indicator of the health of lake ecosystems because of its high trophic position in aquatic food chains. The number of chicks produced each year, the productivity, depends on the number of fish in a lake for the adults and chicks to feed on.  Productivity of the Common Loon is adversely affected by such things as acid rain, structural and recreational development of lake shorelines, disturbance by boaters, water-level fluctuations, predators, and mercury pollution. The Canadian Wildlife Service has monitored Common Loon productivity in Kejimkujik National Park from 1988 to 1997. These reports found that low productivity and high blood mercury levels in the prey fish of the Common Loon were correlated. The Canadian Wildlife Service began their research again in 2006 and 2007. In 2008, the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute began using the Common Loon and its productivity to monitor 35 lakes within Kejimkujik and the surrounding region. Each year a team of researchers canoe 35 lakes, often with volunteers, to determine productivity. In addition to a research team, MTRI invites volunteers to participate in the LoonWatch program by monitoring the Common Loon productivity from May through August on a lake.  The data from researchers and volunteers is combined to provide a clearer picture of Common Loon productivity in Kejimkujik and surrounding regions.

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