Past Speakers

September 2021 – May 2022

Friday, September 24, 2021, 7:30 p.m. (Online Zoom Meeting)
Speaker: Doug Tozer
Topic: The Canadian Lakes Loon Survey
Description: We recently used several decades of volunteer data from our Canadian Lakes Loon Survey to document and help explain mysterious declines over the years in the number of Common Loon babies raised to independence (i.e., loon “productivity”). Our analysis shows that Common Loon productivity has significantly decreased across most of southern Canada over the past several decades. Of course, the “million-dollar” question is why is loon productivity declining? In this presentation, Dr. Doug Tozer, Director, Waterbirds and Wetlands, Birds Canada, will overview information from a remarkable 35,000 breeding attempts by Common Loon pairs across the country, collected by over 4000 volunteers. Dr. Doug Tozer is Director, Waterbirds and Wetlands at Birds Canada in Port Rowan, Ontario. He did his undergrad at the University of Guelph and went to grad school at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. At Birds Canada, he leads the Great Lakes Marsh Monitoring Program, the Canadian Lakes Loon Survey, and the Long Point Waterfowl and Wetlands Research Program

Friday, October 29, 2021, 7:30 p.m. (Online Zoom Meeting)
Speaker: Samantha Knight
Topic: Monarch Butterflies, A tale of milkweed, migration, and management strategies
Description: The iconic Monarch Butterfly inspires awe in the public and scientists alike, yet populations have rapidly declined in the past few decades. In this presentation, Sam will share recent research from the Norris lab at the University of Guelph, including three studies she led highlighting the role milkweed, migration, and management strategies play in Monarch Butterfly conservation. Sam Knight manages the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC)’s Weston Family Science Program, the organization’s national research program. NCC is Canada’s leading not-for-profit land conservation organization. Prior to starting at NCC in 2019, she worked as a Monarch Butterfly researcher in Dr. Ryan Norris’s lab at the University of Guelph, where she also had completed her Master of Science degree studying Tree Swallow migration patterns. Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, she recently settled in Halifax, Nova Scotia, after the multi-year layover in Guelph, Ontario.

Friday November 26, 2021, 7:30 p.m. (Online Zoom Meeting)
Speaker: Glen Brown
Topic: Vulnerability of Ontario’s subarctic ecosystem to environmental change
Description: Global warming is a threat to arctic biodiversity, yet little is known about the vulnerability of the subarctic ecosystem in northern Ontario. The region contains the largest wetland in North America, providing breeding habitat for many thousands of birds that migrate north each year. Our work is to clarify the roles of different pathways linking climate to wildlife and is intended to support development of conservation measures and sensitive monitoring indicators. Dr. Glen Brown is an Adjunct Professor at Trent University and Research Scientist at Ontario’s NDMNRF. Glen leads Ontario’s northern animal ecology research program, with research interests linking ecosystem processes, population dynamics, and individual behavioral strategies. He has conducted research on woodland caribou, moose, and habitat management for a suite of forest-dependent wildlife, including songbirds, mammals, and amphibians.

Friday January 28, 2022, 7:30 p.m. (Online Zoom Meeting)
Speaker: Katrina Wisniewski
Topic: Wild Pigs in Ontario
Description: Katrina Wisniewski is a Wildlife Research Technician with the NDMNRF who works on the Wild Pig program following up on reports of wild pig sightings across the province. She is a graduate of the University of Guelph with a Degree of Bachelors of Environmental Science, Field Of Study Natural Resource Management Invasive wild pigs (Sus scrofa) are considered one of the most damaging species globally, and once they become established in an area, they are notoriously difficult to eliminate. As such, identifying the potential pathways of invasion, especially in places with emerging populations, is critical for preventing new or continued invasion. Wild pigs have been reported in Ontario, Canada, in recent years. We tested four nonexclusive hypotheses about the source of wild pigs in Ontario: (a) escapees from captive sources within Ontario; (b) invasion from neighboring jurisdictions; (c) existing wild populations within Ontario; and (d) translocation and illegal release.

Friday, February 25, 2022, Annual General Meeting, 7:30 p.m. Join at 7 p.m. (Online Zoom Meeting)
A new Executive Board will be elected. A quorum of at least 25 members is required, so be sure to join the meeting.
Speaker: Luke Fuendling
Topic: Butcher of the Alvar, The Eastern Loggerhead Shrike
Description: Luke Fuendling is a writer and freelance journalist from Kitchener-Waterloo. After studying History at the University of Guelph, he worked for several years as an historical interpreter at the Waterloo Region Museum. Luke has turned his research energy toward Canadian environmental issues. Last year he had his first article published in Ontario Nature covering the critically endangered Eastern Loggerhead Shrike, and the recovery project to save them. The loggerhead shrike, one of the fastest-declining bird species in North America, is a unique songbird. Loss of grassland ecosystems through natural succession and continuous human impact — in the form of climate change, agriculture, and use of pesticides — have destroyed many grassland habitats that the eastern loggerhead shrike depends on in Ontario, Quebec, and Manitoba.

Friday, March 25, 2022, 7:30 p.m. (Online Zoom Meeting)
Speaker: Kyle Blaney
Topic: Tales of a Canadian Explorer
Description: Kyle Blaney has lived in Belleville, Ontario since 1976 and has only ever left the area for a brief stint to attend university. Needless to say, he has had more than enough time to explore the Quinte region’s great birding sites and hidden gems along the way.

Kyle has presented all over Canada. Travel, particularly Canadian wilderness exploration, is a very important part of his life. Each spring from 2013 to 2018 he went on a long camping trip (around 20,000 kilometers return) from his home in Belleville to his summer job in Vancouver. Throughout his life, birding shifted from a family pastime into one of his greatest passions through the means of photography. He recalls a time back in 2011 when he took one of his first ever good bird photos. This photo ended up being of a LeConte’s sparrow, an uncommon species that he has not seen locally ever since. “I got into birding through photography. I started taking my camera with me when I walked around.”

Friday, April 29, 2022, 7:30 p.m. (Online Zoom Meeting)
Speaker: Sarah Jamieson
Topic: Things that go bump in the night! The ecology of North Island Brown Kiwi.
Description: Dr. Sarah Jamieson’s love of birds all started when she was 19 years old hiking along the Yukon River and spotted an adult male Surf Scoter in all his breeding glory. Soon after she started working as a field technician on a seabird colony in her home province of Newfoundland and Labrador and never looked back. Her adventures chasing birds has taken her from Greenland to Alaska, Nunavut to Costa Rica. Her most recent international research led her to New Zealand where she worked as a Conservation Research Postdoctoral Fellow studying the spatial and reproductive ecology of North Island Brown Kiwi.

September 2020 – May 2021

Friday, September 25, 2020, 7:30 p.m. (Online Zoom Meeting)
Speaker: Josh Sayers
Topic: Have you seen Ontario’s elusive Badger?
Description: Biologist Josh Sayers, leader of the Ontario Badger Project, a conservation program to save the grizzled grey creatures, calls them “ghost-like” because they are nocturnal, few people ever see them. Plus, they have a huge range that they move within every few days. One badger around Tillsonburg, Ont., called 32,000 hectares home.
Originally from rural Lambton County, Josh has spent the last 15 years or so working across North America and the Caribbean on a variety of research and conservation projects studying a wide range of mammals and birds. His primary focus for much of the last decade has been the Ontario Badger Project, which he started along with his wife Danielle Ethier, and Chris Kyle of Trent University.

Friday, October 30, 2020, 7:30 p.m. (Online Zoom Meeting)
Speaker: Lesley Sampson
Topic: Insights into Coyote/Human Dynamics
Description: Lesley Sampson’s research and practice center on canid behavior and nonlethal coexistence methodologies. She is consulted across North America and abroad, facilitating human-wildlife conflict resolution and outreach. Her extensive fieldwork experience has included collaborations with both scientific and government agencies, working with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, local governments, community scientists, and researchers from Queen’s, Manitoba, Toronto, and Guelph Universities.

Friday November 27, 2020, 7:30 p.m. (Online Zoom Meeting)
Speaker: Toby Thorne
Topic: Toronto Zoo’s Native Bat Conservation Program
Description: When I met that first bat I could not have imagined that I would end up at the Toronto Zoo working on a program to conserve them. The zoo’s Native Bat Conservation Program is part of our commitment to conservation excellence, and particularly the Canadian species in our backyard. bats in North America need all the help they can get. In the past decade several million bats have died because of White Nose Syndrome — a fungal disease introduced from Europe. There are eight resident bat species in Ontario, half of which are now listed as endangered. Bats are also threatened by habitat loss, wind turbines and urbanization.A difficulty with conserving bats is our poor understanding of many aspects of their ecology and needs. Addressing knowledge gaps for bats is a large part of the zoo’s bat program.

Friday January 29, 2021, 7:30 p.m. (Online Zoom Meeting)
Speaker: Kat Lucas
Topic: Aquatic Species at Risk in the Great Lakes
Description: Kat Lucas is the Aqua-Links Program Assistant at the Toronto Zoo. She has a passion for conservation education and connecting others with the environment. She graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Science, Zoology, and a Master of Environmental Science with a focus on aquatic toxicology and fish reproduction. Our Great Lakes support a diverse array of plants and animals, with rich ecosystems that are unique in the world. The lakes provide us with fresh drinking water, food, and recreational opportunities. I am focusing on some of the species at risk in our Great Lakes and our role as individuals to protect this sensitive ecosystem.

Friday, February 26, 2021, Annual General Meeting, 7:30 p.m. Join at 7 p.m. (Online Zoom Meeting)
A new Executive Board will be elected. A quorum of at least 25 members is required, so be sure to join the meeting.
Speaker: Jeff Bowman
Topic: Flying Squirrels in Ontario
Description: Dr. Jeff Bowman is a Senior Research Scientist with the Wildlife Research and Monitoring Section of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, also an Adjunct Professor in the Environmental and Life sciences Graduate Program at Trent University. Jeff leads Ontario’s furbearer and small mammal research programs, and has expertise in population and landscape ecology, and landscape genetics. Flying squirrels are cryptic, nocturnal species with many interesting adaptations to their nighttime habits. He will provide some insights into the natural history of flying squirrels, how and why we study these species, and the history of our research, as well as distribution of Ontario’s two flying squirrel species, the northern and southern flying squirrel, our recent discovery of hybridization between the species, and the causes and consequences of this hybridization.

Friday, March 26, 2021, 7:30 p.m. (Online Zoom Meeting)
Speaker: Ellen Jamieson
Topic: A Day in the Life of a Shorebird in South Carolina
Description: Shorebirds are an incredible group of birds that are important for wetland ecosystems and
undergo one of nature’s craziest phenomena – migration! But shorebirds are in trouble – their
populations are experiencing drastic declines and many species are threatened or
endangered.
Ellen was born and raised in Peterborough, Ontario. She was encouraged to learn about nature
and immerse herself in the outdoors from a young age. She completed her undergraduate
degree at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, majoring in Biology and English. She
had the opportunity to study Tree Swallows in the Annapolis Valley and also conducted a
Herring Gull and Common Eider census on Kent Island in the Bay of Fundy. Her love of field
work led her to pursue a Master of Science at Trent University in the Environmental and Life
Sciences program where she studied shorebird habitat use and foraging ecology on Bulls
Island in South Carolina.

Friday, April 30 2021, 7:30 p.m. (Online Zoom Meeting)
Speaker: Brian Banks
Topic: Canadian Migration Monitoring Network
Description: As spring arrives in Canada, so do billions of migratory birds. Understanding their annual journeys and population trends is vital to halting their decline and promoting conservation. A key contributor in this effort is the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network, a national collaborative of nearly 30 bird observatories. Brian, a nature writer who lives near Roseneath, wrote a feature article on the CMMN in the latest Canadian Wildlife magazine and will share what he learned from observatory operators, banders, and avian biologists in reporting this story. The article is Brian’s latest for Canadian Wildlife. He also writes frequently for Canadian Geographic and ON Nature magazines. A geographer by training, he will also weave in a few reflections from other stories that have taken him into the field with naturalists, biologists, fellow geographers, ecologists, conservation practitioners, adventurers, and explorers.

September 2019 – May 2020

Friday, September 27, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Speaker: Amanda Tracey
Topic: Brighton Wetlands
Description: Join guest speaker Amanda Tracey PhD, Coordinator of Conservation Biology for Central Ontario-East with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to look back on the first season of stewardship work at the Brighton Wetland property. This 223 acre property is a mix of lush coastal wetlands and agricultural fields that is home to many interesting plant and animal species. From Phragmites management to breeding bird surveys and even some grassland restoration work, Amanda will share the details of all of the interesting discoveries and challenges from the 2019 field season.

Friday, October 25, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Speaker: David Geale
Topic: Butterflies of South America
Description: Since 2000, David has guided bird and butterfly tours in Peru and other Andean countries, especially Colombia. His knowledge of South American birds always impresses clients and he has become one of the region’s most popular guides. Recently he has taken a keen interest in butterflies and is quickly becoming an expert on Andean species. Starting in 2018 and carrying on through to 2019, he began to run more tours in South America’s biggest country – Brazil! The variety of butterflies is astounding and in 2018 he visited the Pantanal and the Amazon. In early 2019 he was seriously smitten by the beauties of the Atlantic Rainforest.
David splits his time between Canada, where his family is located, and South America.

Friday, November 29, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Speaker: Kathryn Peiman
Topic: The Return of the Atlantic Salmon
Description: Join guest speaker Dr. Kathryn Peiman Program Coordinator of the Ontario Federation of Angler and Hunter’s Lake Ontario Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program since 2018. She has worked with birds and fish throughout her career and completed her MSc at the University of Guelph, PhD at UCLA, and was a Postdoctoral Associate at Macquarie University (Australia) and Carleton University (Ottawa).

Friday, January 31, 2020, 7:30 p.m.
Speaker: Elora Grahame
Topic: Decline of Whip-Poor-Will and The Nighthawk
Description: Roadways disrupt wildlife corridors and catalyze animal fatalities via automobile strikes, but they are seldom scrutinized for their potential to provide enticing habitat. Two species potentially susceptible to a roadway-induced ecological trap are the Common Nighthawk and Eastern Whip-poor-will, both migratory nightjars that breed in Ontario. Elora Grahame is a Ph.D. student from the University of Guelph and is part of the Norris Lab. Elora’s research is on movement ecology for both the Common Nighthawks and Eastern Whip-poor-wills which are secretive species and relatively understudied.

Friday, February. 28, 2020, 7:30 p.m.
Annual General Meeting – Doors open at 6:30, meeting starts at 7:30. Come early to enjoy a social time prior to the meeting and browse the offerings of the Silent Auction.
Speaker: Gail Fraser
Topic: Bad Reputations: Cormorants and Conservation
Description: Since their rapid population recovery in the Great Lakes, double-crested cormorants have a bad reputation because they are a large black water bird that eats fish and their nesting habits kill trees. Professor Gail Fraser (Faculty of Environmental Studies) describes the role of cormorants in the Great Lakes ecosystems and how cormorant ecology relates to biodiversity conservation. She is an associate professor in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. She has worked on colonial nesting water birds for over two-decades. Her masters work (North Dakota State University) was on the foraging ecology of Forster’s terns and her PhD work (Memorial University of Newfoundland) was on the parental care of crested auklets.

Friday, March 27, 2020, 7:30 p.m. Cancelled Due to COVID-19
Speaker: Jeff Bowman
Topic: Flying Squirrels in Ontario
Description: Flying squirrels are cryptic, nocturnal species with many interesting adaptations to their nighttime habits. I will provide some insights into the natural history of flying squirrels, how and why we study these species, and the history of our research, as well as distribution of Ontario’s two flying squirrel species, the northern and southern flying squirrel, our recent discovery of hybridization between the species, and the causes and consequences of this hybridization. Dr. Jeff Bowman is a Senior Research Scientist with the Wildlife Research and Monitoring Section of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, also an Adjunct Professor in the Environmental and Life sciences Graduate Program at Trent University. Jeff leads Ontario’s furbearer and small mammal research programs, and has expertise in population and landscape ecology, and landscape genetics. He has conducted research work on fishers, martens, lynx, wolverines, mink, wild turkeys, flying squirrels, and a variety of bat species. He has led the Kawartha Flying squirrel Project since 2002.

Friday, April 24, 2020, 7:30 p.m. Cancelled Due to COVID-19
Speaker: Josh Sayers
Topic: Ontario Badger Project
Description: TBA

Friday, May 29, 2019, 7:30 p.m. Cancelled Due to COVID-19
Speakers: WBFN Members.
Topic: Member’s Night Presentations.
Description: WBFN members have a wealth of experience and knowledge in nature. During the final general meeting of the spring, members will do short illustrated presentations on their nature topics of choice. The evening will be organized into five, 12 minute (or less) presentations. Topics will be varied and the evening should be very interesting. Come out and support your fellow WBFN members as they share their knowledge.

September 2018 – May 2019

Friday, September 28, 2018, 7:30 p.m.
Speaker: Dr. David Beresford
Topic: Ontario’s insect diversity near and far.
Description: Ontario’s insect diversity near and far (with particular reference to biting flies). Ontario is blessed with an abundance of biting flies, including mosquitoes, horse flies, deer flies, and stable flies. While most of our interactions with biting flies are unpleasant, they have important functions in our ecosystems and so have value in terms of conservation. This talk examines biting flies as pests of livestock and wildlife, as well as their possible conservation relevance.
Dr. David Beresford is Professor of Biology at Trent University and member of the Pest Management Advisory Council.

Friday, October 26, 2018, 7:30 p.m.
Speaker: Alison White
Topic: Fire as Friend or Foe?
Description: Exploring plant traits adapted to fire in Canadian ecosystems. Although fire is considered destructive to the environment, many plants are adapted to periodic wildfire; indeed fire is necessary for the rejuvenation and maintenance of some ecosystems in Canada. This talk will explore how different plants are adapted to fire and the traits that can provide a fitness advantage to plants in fire-prone environments. The talk will focus on Carolinian plants such as those found in black oak savannas as well as species of the northwestern boreal forest of Canada.
Alison White is a Forest Analyst Intern for the MNRF in Peterborough.

Friday, November 30, 2018, 7:30 p.m.
Speaker: Don Davis
Topic: Travels with the Monarch.
Description: Don Davis first tagged Monarchs in 1967, and has been a “citizen scientist” continuously since 1985. Don will describe how WBFN members were important early supporters of research into the Monarchs’ wintering grounds. He will summarize monarch biology, current issues, and how you can participate in monarch conservation and research.

Friday, January 25, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Speaker: Tom Mason
Topic: Arachnids: an Introduction to Spiders of Ontario.
Description: Tom Mason a retired curator of birds and invertebrates at the Toronto Zoo has been involved or worked with wildlife since he was 9 years old. Over the years he developed a strong interest in Arachnids which really developed in the mid-80’s when he took on the role of curator at the Toronto Zoo. Tom discovered little work had been done with spiders in southern Ontario since the early 20th century. Since then, close to 100 new species have been found in Ontario of which many are new for Canada.

Friday, February. 22, 2019, 7:30 p.m. – Annual General Meeting – Doors open at 6:30, meeting starts at 7:30. Come early to enjoy a social time prior to the meeting and browse the offerings of the Silent Auction.
Speaker: Grant Elliott.
Topic: The Amazing Biodiversity of the Amazon
Join guest speaker Grant Elliott, a Cobourg educator and environmentalist, as he presents “The Amazing Biodiversity of the Amazon”. Discover many of the species in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve and find out how local high school students joined researchers from Operation Wallacea to collect environmental data in the flooded forest of the western Amazon River basin.

Friday, March 29, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Speaker: Ryan Norris
Topic: Living on the edge: The Ecology and Behaviour of Gray Jays in Algonquin Park
Although Canada Jays are common residents of our North American boreal forests, their natural history and ecology remains somewhat of a mystery, even to those that see them regularly. Using a combination of long-term data and recent experiments, I will discuss the year-round ecology of this fascinating and highly intelligent bird, including what factors influence their survival and reproductive success. I will also address why we have observed over a 50% decline of Gray Jays at the southern edge of their range and how this may be related to long-term changes in climate.

Friday, April 26, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Speaker: Rory Quigley.
Topic: Cobourg’s Urban Forest.
Town of Cobourg’s Arborist will review the recently completed Urban Forest Management Plan and discuss how we can all help protect and enhance Cobourg’s Urban Forest Canopy.

Friday, May 31, 2019, 7:30 p.m.
Speakers: WBFN Members.
Topic: Member’s Night Presentations.
The traditional President’s Walk will move from the last monthly meeting time in May to June 2nd. On May 31st we will meet at the Cobourg Library for the inaugural evening of presentations by members of the Willow Beach Field Naturalists. It is no secret that WBFN members have a wealth of experience and knowledge in nature. The evening will be organized into six, 10 minute (or less) presentations. Topics will be varied and the evening should be very interesting. Come out and support your fellow WBFN members as they share their knowledge.

Return Back to Current Speakers