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Biology 1001
Laboratory 2
Read this exercise before you come to the laboratory.
Be sure to review the species accounts of the plants and animals you will be seeking.
The designated species will be given to you at the beginning of lab.
After completing this laboratory exercise, the student should be able to:
1. Identify some of the common plants and animals in the Sackville Waterfowl Park.
2. Consider why these plants and animals are found in some parts but not in other parts of
the Sackville Waterfowl Park.
3. Collect and present basic survey data in an orderly fashion.
4. Prepare a map(s) of the Sackville Waterfowl Park showing the distribution of
designated plants and animals.
1. Complete the Sackville Waterfowl Park assignment. Locate 10 plant and 5 animal
species within the SWP and record these in data tables provided. Include environmental
conditions, date, time, location and relevant information on target species. On the map,
indicate the location of each species, provide a clear legend, figure number and title.
The Sackville Waterfowl Park (see map) is a sanctuary in the heart of our community. It
is open for public use and has 3 km of trails and boardwalks that allow visitors to walk
easily through different habitats without disturbing the life found there. Originally, this site
was part of an extensive salt marsh that was dyked by Acadian settlers in the 17th and 18th
centuries to form part of the extensive pasture and hay land that we now call the Tantramar
Marsh. The Sackville Waterfowl Park was impounded and flooded with fresh water in
1988. The boardwalk, trails and interpretive projects have been introduced since that date.
This exercise will take you on a field trip to the Sackville Waterfowl Park. Your class
will be divided into smaller groups, each accompanied by an instructor. You will explore
the Park, using the large, overall map to orient yourself to the park and its entrances.
Go through the park, paying particular attention to the different habitats - i.e. open
water, water edge, wet/damp ground, dry ground, etc - and to the variety of plants and
animals which are found in these different habitats. We are asking you to focus most of
your attention on the central circular boardwalk area of the park and the path that runs from
the Anglican Church entrance and the Normandy Field (Rectory Lane) entrance. This area
is indicated by stippled lines on the Park map (Figure 3.1).
Within the study area, find and identify all of the plants and animals listed on the next
page. Use simple symbols to plot the distributions of the 15 target species of plants and
animals on the blank data maps of the Waterfowl Park. Devise an appropriate scheme of
symbols and a legend for your map so that others can readily discern what you have seen
and where in the park you saw it. Put five species of plant on one data map, five on another
and the five animal species you observe on the last data map. Each data map will need a
clear title, figure number and a detailed legend. Orient these pages vertically. An
abbreviated field guide to many of the plants and animals commonly found in the Sackville
Waterfowl Park is found on the pages that follow in this Lab Book.
Also, record your observations on the data sheets provided, one for animals and one for
plants. Enter the names of the target species on the tables before you go into the field. The
information you gather should include the specific habitats and conditions in which you
find a plant or animal; their relative density within the park; notes on behaviour of the
animals you observed; details about the plants you observed; the weather when you made
your observations; the specific time of day and date. Keep a tally of how many of each of
the animal species you see and a general overall impression of the frequency of distribution
of the 10 plant species. Record this final count (or estimate of frequency) in the distribution
columns of your tables.
You may ask an instructor check to be sure you are completing the data sheets and map
This assignment must be completed before leaving the lab today.
Name______________________________________ Lab
Date of Visit_____________________(D/M/Y) Time________________
Weather____________________ (cloud cover, precipitation, etc) Air (C)_____ Wind_________
Plant Seen
Habitat **
Notes ***
* Density = how common on the day or days you did your field work?
Very Rare (only one or a few individuals found in <5 locations), Rare (a few individuals found in 5 to 10),
Uncommon (found in 11 to 20 locations), Common (groups found in 21 to 40 locations), Very common
(groups found in 41 to 100 locations), Densely distributed (large groups found in over 100 locations).
** Habitat = in what environment were they found? (ie: on damp ground in deep shade)
Deep water, Shallow water/water edge, Damp Ground, Dry ground, Deep shade, Partial shade, Full
sunlight, etc.
***Notes = Anything Interesting about the plants? Are they flowering? producing berries? losing leaves?
dying back? badly eaten by insects/muskrats/ducks?? etc
Look closely, who knows what you will see!
Name______________________________________ Lab
Date of Visit_____________________(D/M/Y) Time________________
Weather____________________ (cloud cover, precipitation, etc) Air (C)_____ Wind_________
Habitat **
Behaviour ***
* Density = how common on the day or days you did your field work? Very Rare (<5 individuals), Rare
(5-10), Uncommon (11-20), Common (21-40), Very common (41-100), Densely distributed (> 100 seen).
** Habitat = what environment did they choose?
Open water, Shallow water/water edge, Islands/floating perches, On ground, Low vegetation, In trees,
Airborne, etc.
***Behaviour = What were they doing?
Flying, Swimming, Diving, Walking, Feeding, Preening, Fighting, Loafing, Bathing, etc.
This is a partial list of some of the animals found in the Sackville Waterfowl Park. These descriptions
may help you to identify what you see in the Waterfowl Park. Bear in mind that the bird populations vary with
the season of the year.
Pied-billed Grebe
(Podilymbus podiceps Linnaeus)
A pigeon-sized (30-38 cm) water bird; stocky, uniformly brownish;
strong triangular short bill is whitish with a black band that is
lacking in winter. The bill is different from that of a duck. Sexes
look similar. The Pied-billed Grebe arrives in the SWP in spring and
leaves for southern wintering areas by mid October. During the
summer months adults nest at the water’s edge, raising broods of 3
to 7 chicks. Full grown birds dive to eat small fish, crustaceans and
aquatic insects. When alarmed, it dives or slowly sinks below the
water, surfacing again out of sight among the reeds.
(Anas platyrhynchos Linnaeus)
One of the largest and most common species of duck found in the
Park. The Mallard feeds on the surface of the water or by tipping
upside down and feeding in bottom sediments.
Adult male: Head and neck a glossy green; white ring around
neck; chestnut coloured breast; grayish body; inner feathers of
wing a metallic purplish-blue, bordered in front and back with
Adult female: Molted brown with white tail; inner feathers of wing
purplish-blue; bill mottled orange and brown. Mallards live in ponds, lakes and marshes. The ones in the
Waterfowl Park tend to be tame and are noisy panhandlers looking for handouts.
Mallards are migratory, occupying the park in spring, summer and fall. They are forced out by freezing water.
They breed in the park, raising broods of 8 to 10 chicks.
Ring-necked Duck
(Aythya collaris (Donovan))
This is a relatively small duck, smaller than Mallards and Black Ducks. It
duck dives beneath the water in search of food (never feeds at the surface). It
typically sits lower in the water than surface feeding ducks. In breeding
plumage, males have black back and breast; glossy purple-black head; pale
grey sides; bill blackish with distinct white band around it. (In September, the
males are just beginning to return to breeding plumages and many will still
resemble females.) Female brownish; narrow white eye ring; grey-black bill
with white band. The shape of the head - high and angular rather than
rounded, is another distinguishing mark.
Ring necks are migratory, occupying the park in spring, summer and fall. They are forced out by freezing
water. They breed in the park, raising broods of 8 to 12 chicks.
Yellowlegs (Greater and Lesser)
Tringa sp
These are tall, long beaked sandpipers (waders). They have a grey back and wings
with a whitish belly and tail, supported by very long yellow legs. These birds breed in
the Canadian Arctic and winter in South USA and Mexican coastal areas. They wade
in shallow ocean water and use the long beak to capture invertebrate prey for food.
They visit the park only during their fall migration to rest, preen and drink fresh water.
Ring-billed Gull
(Larus delawarensis Ord.)
Adults white with light grey back and wings; black wing tips; feet yellow,
narrow black band around bill. This is the common "sea gull" of the park. It
is a scavenger feeding on large numbers of aquatic animals and on berries. It
is often seen flying over the park in fall capturing flying insects with erratic
lunges and dives. It also may be seen loafing in the deeper water between the
birch lined boardwalk and the highway. They may be found spring, summer
and fall but do not breed within the park.
Belted Kingfisher
(Megaceryl alcyon (Linnaeus)
This pigeon-sized bird appears big-headed and big-billed when perched. It is
blue-gray above and light below with a ragged-bushy crest and a broad gray
breast-band. It often perches where it can survey the water for signs of fish
prey. It flies on uneven wing beats, making a rattling sound as it goes. Hovers
and then plunge-dives for small fish. Summer resident only.
Red-winged Blackbird
(Agelaius phoeniceus Linnaeus)
Male plumage is black with bright red shoulder patches, most conspicuous in
spring display. Female heavily streaked with dusty brown. These birds arrive in
late April and nest within the park. A single polygamous male may have several
mates and nests within his territory. The birds are mainly seed eaters but often eat
insects too. Most of the females have migrated by mid September, leaving
restless flocks of males who leave by the end of September. Smaller than a robin.
Black-capped Chickadee
Parus atricapillus
Very small fluffy perching bird and often quite tame. May be seen in shrubs and
trees surrounding the boardwalk and at the entrance to the park. The best
distinction is the voice; chick-a-dee-dee-dee or a clear whistled fee-bee with the
first note higher in pitch.
These birds live in the park year-round. They nest in hollow trees in summer and
raise broods of 7 or 8 young.
Dragon Fly
Up to 90 mm. in length. These large often brightly coloured insects spend their
immature stages in fresh water and adults are usually found near water. All stages are
predaceous, adults feed primarily on other insects and do not bite or sting. They are
easy to identify with four large elongate wings enlarged head and eyes and a very long
abdomen. Breed and live year round in the park.
(Ondatra zibethicus Linnaeus)
60 cm; l.5 kg. A large amphibious rodent with short legs and a long scaly
tail. Coat colour is a glossy mahogany brown, darkest on head and rump.
The muskrat is an excellent swimmer, using its hind feet as propellers and its
tail as a rudder. It can swim a hundred meters under water and, if under
stress, remain submerged for up to seventeen minutes. The usual period of
submergence is two to three minutes. It is chiefly nocturnal but may often be
seen feeding during daylight hours, especially on cloudy days.
Muskrats live in family units occupying a house, several feeding platforms
and canals or tunnels through the cattails. The diameter of their home territory through summer, autumn and
winter is about sixty-five meters. They are very quarrelsome among themselves and defend home territories.
Muskrat houses are usually constructed at the edge of a vegetation zone near deep water. They are built of
cattails or bulrushes and are plastered with mud and pond weeds. They are built on a platform with a dome
arched over a central chamber. They eat the soft shoots and cores of cattails and other water plants.
This is a partial list of some of the plants found in the Sackville Waterfowl Park. Bear in mind that different plants
are present in different seasons of the year and the presence of flowers, fruits and seeds is also seasonal.
Speckled Alder (Alnus rugosa (Du Roi) Spreng.)
Common coarse woody shrub with clumped and crooked trunks.
In spring will have pendulous staminate catkins and upright
pistillate ones. The upright fruiting bodies or cones may persist
through the winter. Found in low or wet soils. Up to 3 meters tall.
Water Horsetail
(Equisetum fluviatile Linnaeus)
Rush-like plants with harsh, jointed, often hollow stems, with a sheath
at each joint with many short teeth. The spores are borne in short,
complex, terminal spikes. Commonly found in ditches, at edges of
lakes and in low areas or dykelands. 15-20 cm.
Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis Linnaeus)
A common large-leafed fern found around streams and wetlands.
The vegetative fronds are very sensitive to cold temperatures and
turn dark with the first frosts. Prefers shade to partial shade and
damp to wet ground.
Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca Linnaeus)
A common perennial plant with purple flowers and opposite compound leaves.
Seeds are in small, narrow pods. 0.5 meters in height. Prefers full sun and dry
Giant Bur-Reed (Sparganium eurycarpum Engeim.)
Large and stout, erect aquatic plants with male and female flowers separate in
dense round heads (mace-like). The fruits are rough, burr-like, over 4 mm in
Cattail (Typha latifolia Linnaeus)
The common cat-tail, found throughout Maritimes in wetlands, marshes,
ditches, edges of rivers etc. The brown flower heads are formed in spring and
go to seed in fall and winter.
Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
Tall, perennial plants growing in marshes and wet ditches. Has showy
purple flowers in a spike. This plant, which is a garden escapee from
Europe, has no native predators and grows very vigorously choking out
other vegetation.
Willow (Salix sp.)
There are many kinds of willow, all with the same general
characteristics; it takes an expert to tell them apart. Small trees or
shrubs, bearing catkins. Branches olive-brown, leaves long and
tapering, shiny green on top and greenish, finely silky underneath.
Prefers damp to wet ground.
Morning glory or bindweed (Convolvulus sepium Linnaeus)
These plants twine around others. The flowers have funnel-like petals,
white to purple in colour. Leaves shaped like arrowheads.
Check out the direction of twining as the plant spirals upward. Does it twist
clockwise or counter clockwise?
Tall Buttercup (Ranunculus acris Linnaeus)
Tall “weed” with bright yellow flowers. Leaves have many sharp pointed
lobes. Invasive weed in old fields. Prefers full sun.
Meadowsweet (Spirea latifolia (Ait.) Borkh.)
Attractive flowering shrub (about 50 cm high) with tiny white flowers
on a pyramid-shaped spike. Leaves similar to rose.
Garden Heliotrope (Valeriana officinalis Linnaeus)
Tall herb with compound lobed leaves. Pink to white flowers crowded in a
terminal stalk. Found in old gardens and fields. Full sun and dry ground.
Narrow-leaved Goldenrod (Solidago graminifolia (L.) Salisb.)
Tall “weed” with numerous yellow flower-heads, flat on top.
Plants usually branched; leaves thin, wider spreading. Florets 1545 in a head. Flowers turn brown as they age. Prefers dry to damp
soil and full sun.
Jewel Weed; Spotted Touch-me-Not (Impatiens capensis Meerb.)
Flowers, up to 3 cm long, orange thickly spotted with reddish-brown
spots. Plant much branched. Coarsely serrated margins on alternate
leaves. Ripe seedpods explode when touched, flinging seeds as far as
several meters.
Prefers shade and damp to wet soil.
Blue-Joint (Calamagrostis canadensis)
Tall coarse grass with a spike-like inflorescence with a large number of small
White Birch (Betula papyrifera Marsh.) paper birch, canoe birch
A medium sized tree, up to 80 feet in height and 2 feet in diameter. It is distributed
throughout Canada and grows on a variety of soils but prefers dry well lit conditions.
It is best known for its creamy white paper-like bark. The bark is smooth when the
tree is young, and peels off in papery layers. It has conspicuous, long, horizontal
markings called lenticels that admit air for gas exchange. On an old tree, the bark
becomes thickened and broken into irregular, rough segments.
Tall White Aster (Aster umbellatus Mill.)
Tall perennial plant with simple leaves and white composite
flowers. Conspicuous in the late summer. Very common
throughout the region along roadsides, in full sun in ditches and
damp thickets, in poorly drained soils.
Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana Marsh.)
Small trees with alternate, compound leaves with 11-17 serrate leaflets.
The showy flowers (in June) are small and numerous and are in a flat
inflorescence. the small red/orange fruits ripen in late August or
September. This fruit is eaten by birds in fall and winter. This tree grows
in damp to dry soils and prefers full sun.
Lesser Duckweed (Lemna minor L.)
Minute plants (2-5 mm long) floating on the water, not differentiated into
stems and leaves, but flattened and reproducing by budding. Often forming a
greenish cover on the surface of the water.
Common Arrow-head (Sagittaria latifolia Willd.)
Commonly found in shallow water around the margins of lakes, in mucky
stream bottoms, and in pools of water. The leaf blade is variable in
proportions buy reliably arrow-head shaped. Prefers full sun.