At almost three thousand square miles, Algonquin Provincial Park is a massive and very wild place. Though it attracts tourists from around the world, it is also a hub of important research into the natural world. The Wildlife Research Station located on the southern rim of the park has been in operation since 1944, and has contributed an enormous amount to our understanding of the Canadian ecology, and beyond. Tim Winegard is the station's manager." It really is a place that's meant to be untouched, for not only reference purposes, for developing stream quality references, forest and wildlife references, but really to just be this untouched place where people can come and do research and then compare it to other places that have varying degrees of human impact on them. "
Over it's long history the station has conducted numerous wildlife studies, and many of them have spanned decades.Winegard says that they have the advantage of doing these studies over 30 thousand acres of pristine wilderness which has been set aside exclusively for their use." When you are able to look at things over such a large geographic area and then look at things over many, many years, you start to understand how forest type and animal species abundances or diversity change through time."
That knowledge is particularly important when trying to chart ecological shifts such as climate change. The station has also published massive amounts of peer reviewed publications. But the station is also having an impact in another way. Universities are able to take advantage of the station, educating future stewards of the planet." A lot of people are getting their first experiences in a place like this." Said Winegard " And it really has a major impact on the roles and the employment opportunities that they seek out in the future. "
Jeremy Fromanger is a professor at Georgian College in Toronto. He's been bringing students to the station for almost 15 years. He's seen it's effects first hand." One of the big things is that it helps to make a link between something they read in a textbook taht could be somewhat abstract or dry, to their own worlds. What's exciting is that a lot of these students go back home and talk to friends and family and people who aren't necessarily keyed iin to environmental issues, and it opens dialogue, which is important. "
Though hidden in a deep Northern forest, the impact of the Wildlife Research Station is one of resounding importance." No one's trying to get rich off of this." Concludes Winegard ."This really is for a better understanding of the wildlife, which ultimately is a part of the cultural and natural heritage that we pass on to future generations. "
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