Field Course 2019 – Part 2: Terrestrial Module

In the second half our 2019 Field Course, the first-year cohort shifted focus from Aquatic to Terrestrial survey techniques.

We covered bird and vegetation surveys on campus at BCIT, but on our final weekend in the field we ventured further from town, traveling out to a field site near Mission, BC.

We set out small mammal traps on two grids, one in a second growth stand and the other in a remnant patch of old growth forest.

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Field Course 2019 – Part 1: Aquatic Module

The group on the final day of the field course – damp but still smiling!

Each year, the first-year cohort of ER Master’s students complete a Field Course to gain hands-on skills in sampling techniques and a practical understanding of study design for various types of surveys.

The course is divided into Aquatic and Terrestrial modules. This year, it ran on Fridays-Saturdays through March and April, which made for a hectic end-of-semester. On the other hand, it got us us outside in the field a fair amount which was a great change of pace.

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2019 ERSA Research Showcase

Second-year cohort at the annual ERSA Research Showcase

On February 28th, ERSA held its annual Research Showcase. This year, our showcase consisted of a poster day with the second-year cohort presenting their Applied Research Projects.

To kick off the event we had two alumni, Erin Roberts and Chloe Hartley, speak. They talked about about their Applied Research Projects and career paths after the program, and their advice for current students. This boiled down to being engaged in restoration by getting yourself out there and meeting people in the field. That seemed like solid advice, so we put it directly into action, mingling for the next few hours and checking out the wide variety of projects that the second-year cohort had completed.

Erin Roberts and Chloe Hartley, our alumni presenters talk about their career paths after graduation

It was a great chance to meet new people and catch up with people in different cohorts, as well as connect with project partners, graduates, and professors. For the presenters it also gave us a chance to talk about our research, and think about how to formulate answers to questions that might come up in our defences.

Our second-year presenters discussing their posters

A big shout-out to our ERSA co-Chairs, Sarah Bird and Keith MacCallum, for the massive amount work that went into making this event such a success! We’d like to thank the planning committee (Keith, Tim, Heather, Alex, Kate, Katie Moore, Katie Weise, & Darian) for their hard work. We appreciate that Wayne Hand, the Dean of Construction and the Environment at BCIT, and Steven Kuan, the Associate Dean, attended our Showcase. Further thanks to alumni Erin and Chloe for giving presentations and to all of the people from outside the program who came out to attend.

Students from both cohorts attending the showcase

Project Spotlight: Keith MacCallum – Investigating potential facilitative effects in Lower Mainland riparian ecosystems


Plants can interact with their ecosystems in a variety of ways. Facilitation is when these changes increase the survival, growth or reproduction of neighbouring plants. It is most commonly studied in arid and alpine ecosystems, but there is increasing evidence that it is a ubiquitous effect across all ecosystems.

Facilitative effects are important to ecological restoration. When they are properly understood, they can contribute to effective planning of plantings by creating better conditions for the growth of plants.

My study looked for potential facilitative interactions that might improve the growth of two shrub species common in Lower Mainland riparian forests.

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Burrowing Owl Habitat and Rangeland Health Assessment

Learning how to write effective proposals is a key skill for restoration practitioners, and a main focus of one of our courses, Project Management & Policy for Ecological Restoration (ECO 622). One group of students chose to write a proposal for the Nature Trust of British Columbia. In an exciting development, showing us just how realistic our coursework can be, the proposal was approved and funded.  This allowed a group of students to implement the vegetation and habitat survey they designed over the summer of 2018.

In early May, we completed a physical and biological grassland assessment outside of Osoyoos, B.C. We wanted to determine if this property would be suitable habitat for reintroduction of the extirpated and SARA-listed Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia hypugaea).

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Project Spotlight: Katie Moore- Restoring a Culturally Eutrophic Shallow Lake


In the past 50 years, eutrophication has become the most serious environmental threat to lakes worldwide. Eutrophication is a common issue in many urban lakes on Vancouver Island including Langford Lake, Elk/Beaver Lake, and Quamichan Lake with deteriorating water quality that is a concern for the ecosystem as well as human health.

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Field School 2018



While the concepts and ideas we cover in the classroom are the foundation for our work in restoration, learning the nitty-gritty details of how to apply them is equally important to success. Enter field school: two intensive weeks learning the practical techniques for monitoring and data collection. These skills will let us will let us evaluate if our projects are working and adapt them to be more successful. Plus who doesn’t love going outside to muck around? It’s  a big part of the reason why most of us are here. Continue reading

Stanley Park Intertidal Sampling

On October 9, the first-year cohort went on a field trip to Stanley Park to do intertidal sampling and learn about experimental design. We assisted Dan Esler from the USGS to gather data on the distribution of Pacific blue mussels (Mytilus trossulus) in the intertidal off the northwest side of Stanley Park as part of a larger project on trophic relationships in nearshore marine ecosystems. Continue reading

Project Spotlight: Oliver Denny – Using nematodes as bioindicators

Ponderosa Pine/Bluebunch wheatgrass Reference Site at Kenna Cartwright Park


Ponderosa Pine/Bluebunch wheatgrass ecosystems are threatened by multiple stressors, including the spread of invasive species, and it can be difficult to prioritize sites for restoration treatments. Soil nematode communities respond to ecosystem disturbances, which allows us to use nematodes as bioindicators. My study links the observed nematode community with established indices, allowing nematode analysis to be used as a tool for assessing ecosystem health.

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