Sunday 14 August 2016

Know Your Wetland Classes, Part 3: Super Swamps

Did you know that there are 5 classes of wetland in Canada? Learn to recognize them and get acquainted with the wetlands near you. You can learn about all 5 classes of wetland in greater detail by reading the Canadian Wetland Classification System. This post is Part 3 of a 5 Part series entitled Know Your Wetland Classes.

The theme this week is swamps. You can find Part 1 of the series (Fens) here, and Part 2 (Bogs) over here.

Swamps are forested wetlands, and are often found in riparian areas next to rivers or lakes, or in the transition zone between bogs and fens. They are not as wet as other wetland classes, such as fens or marshes, and the drier conditions allow for trees and/or shrubs to dominate. The hydrologic regime varies throughout the year and from swamp to swamp: they may be seasonally wet or have standing water throughout the whole year.

There are three types of swamp: shrub, coniferous, and hardwood (deciduous). The understory is shaded and is ideal for plant species that can tolerate shade.

  • Conifer swamp: White cedar, pine and spruce trees are common
  • Hardwood swamp: Dominated by maple, willow, aspen, oak and birch trees
  • Shrub swamps: Have small trees and bushes such as willow, alder and dogwood

Shrub swamp, Newfoundland and Labrador. Photo credit: Nature Conservancy of Canada staff.

What lives in a swamp?

Swamps are important nesting areas for many species of birds. Forexample, wood ducks, common mergansers and goldeneyes nest in hollow cavities in the dead standing trees, called snags. Other animals, such as reptiles, fish, and amphibians depend on the shallow, muddy waters to reproduce and have offspring. Here in Newfoundland and Labrador we commonly see large mammals such as moose roaming around our swamps.

The stagnant waters are also great breeding areas for dragonflies, mosquitoes and other insects. Because of this, many swamps have been drained, filled, and cleared. Although these bugs can seem pesky to us, they actually provide food for frogs, ducks and other wildlife that reside there. As we continue to realize the importance of wetlands, like swamps, for wildlife habitat, they have become a higher priority for conservation and stewardship initiatives. Many SAM member municipalities have signed wetland habitat stewardship agreements with the provincial government, to safeguard important wetlands in their community for future generations of wildlife and people. 

Moose near Hawke's Bay, NL. Photo credit: NL Wildlife Division staff.

Thursday 4 August 2016

June and July SAM Community Updates

Summer is a busy season for stewardship and conservation. Here are three activities that kept us out of the office this summer.

Interpretive Hike: Burgeo
On the last weekend of July, Burgeo invited SAM to participate in its Sand and Sea Festival. SAM staff led an interpretive hike through the trails and beaches of Sandbanks Provincial Park. The hike was greatly enhanced by the wealth of local knowledge provided by Burgeo residents. Burgeo has been a member of SAM since 2010, and is looking forward to being more involved in the SAM community moving forward!

Wetland Mapping Fieldwork
SAM is involved in a pilot project to produce an inventory and a map of wetlands in Newfoundland and Labrador. The project is led by C-Core (a non-profit research based organization based at MUN), and the fieldwork element is a collaborative effort between C-Core and the NL EHJV partnership. During July and August, these partners are collecting data on wetland classification in multiple pilot areas, including around Happy Valley - Goose BayDeer Lake and the NE Avalon Peninsula, near PC-SPTorbayFlatrockSt. John's and Bauline.

Nest Box Workshop:Codroy Valley
On May 30, staff from DUC and NCC partnered up to deliver a nest box workshop for students at Belanger Memorial School in Upper Ferry, in grades K-6. Three boxes were installed, which will provide nesting habitat for ducks that nest in tree cavities, such as mergansers and goldeneyes. The students at the school agreed to be stewards of these three new nest boxes, and to inspect them every year for nesting activity.