Research priorities

Georgian Bay Islands National Park

Priority Research Interests

Georgian Bay Islands National Park straddles two natural bioregions and forms a core protected area within the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve. The park protects 50 islands and properties covering a total area of 14km2. The park has 25 species-at-risk. The park is located near Honey Harbour, Ontario and can only be accessed by boat. 

The main island of the park, Beausoleil Island, is designated as a national historic site and protects a significant cultural landscape. The park has currently 13 known archaeological sites that demonstrate human activity and settlement on the island from the late Paleo-Indian period to the present day.

Hog Nosed Snake

Park research priorities are derived from needs identified in the Park Management Plan (an updated plan is scheduled for completion in 2022), the Multi-species Action Plan along with other key documents. 

Key Research Priorities:

  1. Make use of the MOTUS Wildlife Tracking System using automated radio telemetry to track the movement and behaviour of birds, bats, and large insects, and facilitate landscape-scale research and education on the ecology and conservation of migratory animals that use the park as part of their habitat.
  2. Assess the impact of water level fluctuation on wetland communities and the habitat of transient species including: an inventory of the wetland ecosystem structure; detecting changes in macrophyte community structure and influence on reptile habitat; determining how ecotone relocation among taxa can serve as an indicator of wetland resilience, and; determine the relationship between water levels and substrate slope on the availability of suitable habitat.
  3. Assess phylo-geography and landscape genetics of species at risk including listed snakes to determine current abundance, area of occupancy and habitat conditions, genetic population structure and snake hibernacula.
  4. Assess at-risk avifauna species to update presence/absence and abundance, and to identify potential habitats to increase conservation.
  5. Assess climate change impacts on species conservation, factoring in island biogeography dynamics, detect turnover in the herpetofauna community, and better understand the role and function of biodiversity.  ecological processes — all in order to select options for an adaptive conservation strategy.

Please read Parks Canada’s research permit requirements for details on the research permitting process.

Working with Indigenous Partners

Parks Canada works closely with Indigenous groups across the country. In the spirit of reconciliation and with acknowledgement of land and water rights, research in Georgian Bay Islands National Park is conducted in cooperation with the Cultural Advisory Circle comprised of representatives of the Chippewas of Beausoleil First Nation, Chippewas of Rama First Nation, Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation, Wasauksing First Nation, Potawatomi of Moose Deer Point First Nation, Wahta Mohawks, the Georgian Bay Métis Council and the Georgian Bay Native Friendship Centre.

Research projects may also incorporate Indigenous traditional knowledge components, Indigenous worldviews, ethics, values and processes. The Parks Canada Research Coordinator will assist in making connections with Indigenous groups.

Support Offered to Researchers

  • In-kind support from Parks Canada could include transportation to research sites (especially to islands by boat), provision of office and lab space, access to a comprehensive library, advice and guidance on research design, equipment loans, and limited overnight accommodation.
  • Multi-year data sets available through the Government of Canada’s Open Data site: forest breeding birds; Eastern Red-Backed Salamanders; EMAN forest monitoring plots; water levels; coastal wetland water quality, Invasive phragmites and a variety of geo-spatial resources are available. 
  • Supplementary Research Interests

    • Determining the impact of Great Lakes water level fluctuations on the Georgian Bay shoreline ecosystem and development of a coastal wildlife corridor concept for evolving species refugees. 
    • Great Lakes lake level fluctuation cycles vary from short-term (6-22 years) to long-term (25-60 years). This can also be explained independently from climate variables and other anthropogenic factors. What is the dynamic multi-spatial geomorphic that can be applied to calculate the equilibrium and contribute to forecasting lake levels. 
    • Examine the feasibility and development of winter wildlife monitoring by using drone-based FLIR (thermal camera) integrated with high-resolution video to potentially monitor the post-hibernation movement of herpetofauna. 
    • Develop a framework for effective integration of physical, biotic, and societal factors to support a sustainable ecological restoration approach where science and practice are functionally aligned, interim monitoring is feasible, and conservation practice is enduring.
    • When, where, and how to re-naturalize the coastal shoreline to build climate resiliency. framework with multiple spatial scale resolution.  
    Contact Information:

    Dr. Prabir Roy, Research Coordinator   

    Address: 901 Wye Valley Rd., Box 9, Midland, ON, Canada L4R 4K6

    Email: Dr. Prabir Roy

    Phone: (705) 527-7256 

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