Landscapes - People - Global change

Tag: fieldwork

Australia fieldwork

I have been in Australia for just over two weeks now, revisiting livestock producers I worked with during my postdoctoral fellowship in 2008-2010. I was able to reach just over a third of the original participants, and I have been visiting them on their properties to identify the sites of the photos they took back in 2008, and recapture the same photos. It is fun work, like a treasure hunt. Some landscape changes are subtle in that 15+ years, and some are not (like the 66-turbine Rye Park wind farm; see below – you’ll need to zoom in). Thanks to the ANU Sustainable Farms team for the use of their field vehicle, and to these wonderful farmers for offering so much of their time and good humour.

The Rye Park wind farm at sunset

Tabusintac and Esgenoôpetitj

Half of the research team getting started at the charming Wishart Point Lodge, Brantville, NB.

A quick note to say thank you to Fanny Noisette and her lab at UQAR (Marie-Pomme and Madeleine), Melanie LeBlanc, and the knowledgeable and passionate folks at the Tabusintac and Esgenoôpetitj Watershed Associations (Billie Joe, Rodrigue and Samantha) for a great few days learning about the state of and challenges facing RAMSAR-listed Tabusintac Bay and surrounds. The weather was nasty and so we didn’t get to use those waders to get out into the eelgrass beds, but the Wishart Point Lodge was a cozy revelation. Thanks and Wela’lioq to all the community members who came out to talk to us about this precious place. I look forward to seeing everyone again later this summer!

Caitlin’s first paper

See the difference?

See the difference?

I’ve been enjoying peripheral involvement with Peter Tyedmer’s students working on pollination ecosystem services. First, Andony Melathopoulos showed how tenuous ecosystem service valuations are, using pollination services as an example. Now, Caitlin Cunningham has shown how critical it is to get local field data. The first paper out of her MES thesis uses the InVEST model to explore the carrying capacity of several Nova Scotia counties for honeybees, and shows how important it is to get boots on the ground rather than rely on proxies such as ecological land classifications and other such base spatial data infrastructure. The good news for the bee industry is coming in the next paper. Congratulations, Caitlin.

Back from the Falklands

Late afternoon sun picks out a river course on West Falkland.

Late afternoon sun picks out a river course on West Falkland.

I am now back from my 3+ week immersion into the farming culture of the Falkland Islands, with 700 photos, 30 hours of interviews, 20 pages of observational notes, and a strong sense of my inadequacies as a specialist within a land of self-reliant generalists. Despite coming at the busiest time in the farming calendar – shearing and lamb marking – farmers were incredibly generous in their willingness to talk, and sometimes tour and host as well. My research assistant, Marilou Delignieres, went far beyond her role as recruiter, guide and driver, happily engaging in farm work and babysitting to help me get time with farmers. Her parents, Hugues and Marie-Paul, helped us with logistics, but also provided additional opportunities during my visit. I relished my discussions with members of a contract shearing gang then working at their farm Dunbar, and got to experience a cruise ship visit, one of the ways that many farmers here diversify their incomes and benefit from hosting penguin colonies and other wildlife. I travelled by 4×4, workboat (ferry) and Islander aircraft. I marveled at all scales: skies to ground cover. These memories will sustain me through the difficult transcription phase which follows such research, and support my subsequent analysis. Thanks to the OECD Co-operative Research Programme and Dalhousie’s Supplemental Sabbatical Fund for the fellowship funding to undertake this travel, and SSHRC for its support of Marilou.

Marilou throws a fleece in the Dunbar shearing shed, as Alex shears, Polly rousies, and Hugues and Marie-Paul look on.

Marilou throws a fleece in the Dunbar shearing shed, as Alex shears, Polly rousies, and Hugues and Marie-Paul look on, ready to class it.

Cruise ship tourists visiting Gentoo Penguins at Dunbar farm, with Death Head in the background - one of their tricker paddocks to gather sheep in.

Cruise ship tourists visiting Gentoo Penguins at Dunbar farm, with Death Head in the background – one of their tricker paddocks to gather sheep in.

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