Citizen Science Opportunity!

Ken Thompson, SCB-TO member and graduate student at the University of Toronto, is seeking help from home owners/renters that would permit him to establish small 1.5 m2  experimental populations of white clover on their property continuously from late May to early September, 2015. Ken is studying the evolution of antiherbivore defenses in urban landscapes. To learn more about his research click here.

He hopes to have populations that span a wide range of locations, as far west as Milton, as far North as Newmarket, and as far east as Whitby. He is especially interested in hearing from homeowners/renters that have lawn-space in the downtown core of Toronto.

If any members are willing to help by hosting one of these small plots, please contact Ken Thompson directly (

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Conservation Events

Community Tree Planting at Alex Robertson Park and Duffins Heights (Pickering). Saturday, April 25. 10am-12pm. Want to enjoy some spring weather while making a positive impact on our green spaces? TRCA is looking for volunteers to restore natural habitat by planting trees at two different parks in Pickering. More information available here 

Clean-up of Colonel Sam Smith Park. Sunday, April 19, 2015. 9am-3pm. If you need somewhere a little closer to home but would still like to lend a helping hand to a green space, TRCA is also hosting a clean-up of Colonel Sam Smith Park, a lakeside park which is accessible by the Queen streetcar. More information available here

Ontario Biodiversity Summit in Niagara Falls. May 19-22. This summit is the first of its kind in Ontario, and its goal is to provide information about the state of biodiversity in Ontario and our current actions to protect it. The summit will feature speakers from various backgrounds, networking events, research poster exhibition, and field trip activities. More information is available here

The Water We Drink at High Park Nature Centre. August 12 and 13. A two day workshop for middle school and high school teachers where participants learn about our urban watersheds, collecting data, constructing watershed models, measuring the health of a stream, and more hands-on projects to teach unforgettable conservation biology lessons to students. More information is available here

Meet Our Chapter Members


SCB-TO Member Spotlight: Ken Thompson

I am a M.Sc. student at the University of Toronto Mississauga. I am an evolutionary biologist currently studying the effects of urbanization on driving evolution in plant populations. All plants have ways to defend themselves against damage from herbivores, and the goal of my M.Sc. research is to understand how urbanization can influence the evolution of these defenses by altering herbivore communities. Defenses are costly for plants to produce, and if there are no herbivores, then there is no reason for plants to spend their limited resources making defenses! Have you ever seen a grasshopper in downtown Toronto? I haven’t, and I hypothesize that the absence of many dominant herbivores in cities should cause plants to evolve lower levels of defense in cities than in rural areas. Preliminary data collected last summer lends strong support to this hypothesis, and I am now preparing to conduct a large experiment this summer to further test these ideas.

For this project, I need support from residents of Toronto. I am looking for homeowners / renters who can lend 1.5 square meters (approx. 16 square feet) of lawn space with at least partial sun upon which I can set up an experimental population of potted plants from June through August. If you are interested in volunteering for this project, please contact me directly at and I will be in touch with more specific information.

Upcoming Events and Workshops

Woodpeckers by Ewag

City of Toronto Subcommittee on Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Public Meeting

The Subcommittee on Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation was recently created by the city of Toronto in order to help achieve a goal of reduction of greenhouse gases of 80% by 2050. Their first meeting (Monday, March 2) is open to the public and will discuss the subcommittee’s goals and objectives. They would like to hear from members of the public about what the subcommittee should have achieved or created by their end of their two year term, and how you or your group would like to be involved in the subcommittee’s work.

More information here

Winter Waterfowl Event

Many duck species seen in Toronto during the winter migrate from the Arctic where they breed, and on Saturday, March 7 Toronto Region Conservation will teach you about these species as you watch them on their wintering grounds.

Registration with the TRCA

Reviving Native Plants at the Riverwood Conservancy Talk 

Canada’s endangered Carolinian forest is home to rare native wildflower species. The importance of including them in our gardens will be the subject of this talk by Dr. Nina Barabas on Thursday, March 19 at 1pm. This talk is presented by North American Native Plant Society and the Toronto Botanical Garden.

Registration here

Urban Watershed Forum

A full day of presentations, seminars and workshops on sustainable approaches to urban watershed management, which is critically important to conservation work. Student price for tickets is only $10. Held at the Brickworks in the Don Valley on Friday, March 20.

Registration with Evergreen

Spring Birding Workshop at High Park

This two day workshop will teach you how to find and identify birds of Ontario by sight and sound, and how to use binoculars and field guides. The first day is indoors where you will learn the necessary skills, and the second day you will practice what you learned while exploring High Park. Wednesday, May 6 and Saturday, May 9.

Registration here

Ontario’s Greenbelt Turns 10!

Ontario is home to the world’s largest permanently protected greenbelt, consisting of over 720,000 hectares of agriculturally and environmentally significant land from Rice Lake in Northumberland County west to the Niagara River. The belt forms a semicircle around the Golden Horseshoe – Canada’s most populated area and one that is rapidly growing. Recognizing the need to protect farms and natural areas from the ever-increasing threat of urban sprawl, the provincial government passed the Greenbelt Act in 2005. The overarching goals were to:

  • “Protect against the loss and fragmentation of the agricultural land base and supports agriculture as the predominant land use;
  • Give permanent protection to the natural heritage and water resource systems that sustain ecological and human health and that form the environmental framework around which major urbanization in south-central Ontario will be organized; and
  • Provide for a diverse range of economic and social activities associated with rural communities, agriculture, tourism, recreation and resource uses.” (Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, 2005)

Today, Ontario’s Greenbelt protects over 216,000 acres of forest, lakes, wetlands, and river valleys that 78 provincially listed species-at-risk call home. It helps keep our water safe by requiring buffers around wetlands and the headwaters of all major rivers that feed the Greater Toronto Area. It provides a worthy example of system-based conservation planning, where emphasis is placed on protecting the connectedness of natural features across the diverse ecozones of the Niagara escarpment and Oak Ridges Moraine instead of selecting just one or a few areas of interest. Finally, the Greenbelt provides unique recreational opportunities so close to the city, with over 10,000 km of natural trails to explore.

On February 28th, the Greenbelt will turn 10 years old, and later this year the Greenbelt Plan will be up for review. To learn more about the Greenbelt and the possible threats it faces in the coming years visit:


Meet Our Chapter Members

Karl Lamothe

SCB-TO Member Spotlight: Karl Lamothe, MSc

I am currently a PhD student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto. My research interests are in the field of freshwater aquatic ecosystem conservation and management. Freshwater ecosystems are extremely interesting as they are instrumental in providing valuable ecosystem services, as well as harbouring some of the highest levels of biodiversity despite only covering a small fraction of the Earth’s surface. My Masters research focused on understanding population structure of largemouth bass, a highly regarded sport fish, in Arkansas reservoirs. The objective of my PhD research is to demonstrate how ecological resilience theory can aid in sustaining the socially desired state of Ontario’s aquatic ecosystems to the projected increases in disturbance as a result of human-induced pressures. Ecological resilience describes the ability of an ecosystem to absorb disturbance without undergoing major change in its overall structure. Quantifying ecological resilience will demonstrate the vulnerability of freshwater systems to major change, therefore providing valuable information to aquatic ecosystem management. I have personally been involved with SCB-TO since 2013-2014. Besides being immersed in my research, I enjoy bicycling the Toronto streets, as well as being creative with yeast, hops, barley, and sugar. Fun fact: my favorite type of fish is a sculpin.

In the news….

SCB-TO members have been hard at work analysing data from our 2 field seasons collecting data to address the gaps in our knowledge about native pollinators in Rouge Park. Here are some recent developments on the status of the park as it transitions to National Park status.

Province withholds Rouge Park lands in response to low environmental protection offered by federal National Urban Parks bill. The Rouge Park is among the largest urban parks in North America, protecting over 40 km2 of watershed, including large swathes of endangered Carolinian forest in Toronto’s east end. In 2011, the province began talks with the federal government about the possibility of expanding the Rouge to create Canada’s first National Urban Park. Strategically located in a region that boasts 34% of Canada’s population, the Rouge would provide national park access to millions. However, the province argues that the proposed federal legislation (Bill C-40) will not provide the environmental protection the park needs or deserves, and falls short of the protection offered to existing national parks. The Ontario government opted to deny the transfer of the provincially-owned Rogue Park lands to the federal government until the proposed federal legislation is significantly strengthened.

View related article in The Globe and Mail

Learn more here: