On the Expedition
You'll monitor mammal populations to determine the impacts of climate change and other environmental challenges.
Working in diverse habitats, from forests to meadows and from wetlands to sweeping beaches, you’ll have the chance to work closely with animals. To study how small mammalian prey species are affected by disrupted seasonal weather patterns, you’ll help humanely capture, handle, and release chipmunks, mice, voles, and squirrels.You'll count deer and snowshoe hare droppings to estimate their population densities and habitat preferences. You’ll also monitor larger mammals, such as porcupines, deer, beavers, raccoons, coyotes, fishers, bobcats, and bears. As well as assisting in research, you’ll have a hands-on opportunity to make a practical contribution to the research site by building hides and boardwalks and assisting with habitat management. In evening sessions, you’ll learn how to calculate population abundances from your data and about ecosystem sustainability, climate change, and mammalian ecology. In your recreational time, you can go to the beautiful, historic town of Lunenburg (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and visit the museums, see the famous racing schooner Bluenose, check your email, and enjoy the shops.
Meals and Accommodations
Your team will stay in traditional South Shore accommodations, in single-gender, double rooms with twin beds and shared bathrooms, a lecture room, and a large garden with a deck for relaxing in the evening. Spectacular white-sand beaches, rocky inlets, and salty lagoons pepper this coastline, including some of the few remaining breeding areas for the endangered piping plover. Nutritious meals will be provided, sometimes featuring local specialties; you’ll be asked to help with kitchen clean-up.
About the Research Area
Nova Scotia belongs to the Atlantic Coastal Plains Ecosystem. Almost completely surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, it is connected to mainland Canada by a narrow isthmus. The study area was designated part of the Southwest Nova Biosphere under the 2001 UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Program. Across the Bay of Fundy from Nova Scotia is the Canadian province of New Brunswick, and to the south of New Brunswick is the state of Maine in the United States. The province is twice the size of Massachusetts and just a bit smaller than Ireland. Wherever you go in Nova Scotia, you are no more than 56 kilometers (35 miles) from the sea.
Nova Scotia’s highest point is White Hill Lake on Cape Breton Island, at 530 meters (1,742 feet) above sea level, Cape Breton Island is hilly, but most of the province is low-lying, with parts of the Annapolis Valley actually below sea level. Huge dikes hold back the sea and create thousands of acres of farmland. The middle and northern parts of the province, toward Cape Breton Island, have rocky highland plateaus reminiscent of the landscape of Scotland from which the province takes its name.
Cook’s Lake, a focal area for the project, is more than just a lake: The area contains some 330 acres (134 hectares) of mixed coniferous and deciduous woodland, maintained under Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) guidelines, along with a large fruit orchard, ponds, streams, and wetlands. This woodland has belonged to the family of Earthwatch scientist Dr. Christina Buesching for 20 years. Dr. Buesching and her partner Dr. Chris Newman run Cook’s Lake Farming, Forestry & Wildlife, a company advocating the informed, responsible, and sustainable management of regional ecosystem resources.