Monday, October 4, 2010

Fall SKIP - Week 2 - Biodiversity

The second week of our Fall SKIP session taught us all a whole lot about biodiversity - the importance of the diversity of life and the challenges species face.

The program was led by Maria Fournier, who has worked summers at Murphys Point. She led us in a tag-like game that demonstrated that species rely on ecosystems. The kids were tasked with having to pick up coloured straws representing food, shelter, water and reproduction - all vital to species survival. In the first round, the kids raced to pick up all four straws without getting tagged by a "predator" or a "disease," and we evaluated the survival rate.

Round 2 kicked it up a notch with each colour located in a roped-off circle representing habitat. This showed how habitat sometimes gets fragmented, and species have to work harder to get what they need. The circles were considered "safe" zones, with the tagger lurking between the circles.

In the final round, we talked about edge habitats and how it can be hard for species to survive because they have to be aware of predators or diseases that are found in both types of habitat. The tagger was given the advantage of being able to reach across the "edge" of the circles to tag the prey. All of this showed the battles some species have to fight in order to avoid endangerment.

Next we broke into groups and went on a nature scavenger hunt. We looked for such things as evidence of animals, seeds, fall flowers, artifacts, rock formations, something related to species at risk, an example of human encroachment on habitat (such as roads), etc. We found lots of evidence of animal activity in the area!

Next Alida Lemieux, a park interpreter, visited us with the black ratsnake from the visitor centre and talked about the difficulties this species encounters. This large, gentle snake is a threatened species that is struggling against human encroachment and habitat destruction. Fragmentation makes it difficult for it to find all the things it needs to survive.

Finally we shared the results of our scavenger hunt over an excellent snack provided by our Skipper, Jane. A big thanks to all our other volunteers for the day: Robbie, Val, Pat and Steph.

Please note there will be no program on Thanksgiving weekend; the next one will be Oct. 17 when we will be cooking outdoors. Stay tuned for directions: this will be held at a location in the campground.
And look at the puffball Gareth found just down the road on his way home!

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