Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute (MTRI) : Institut de recherche du Mersey Tobeatic

MTRI - Projects - Freshwater - Loons


MTRI is a non-profit co-operative with a mandate to promote sustainable use of natural resources and biodiversity conservation in the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve and beyond through research, education, and the operation of a field station.

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Backyard Biodiversity

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Why are we studying loons?

The Common Loon is widely used as an indicator of the health of lake ecosystems because of its high trophic position in aquatic food chains. The number of chicks produced each year, the productivity, depends on the number of fish in a lake for the adults and chicks to feed on.  Productivity of the Common Loon is adversely affected by such things as acid rain, structural and recreational development of lake shorelines, disturbance by boaters, water-level fluctuations, predators, and mercury pollution. The Canadian Wildlife Service has monitored Common Loon productivity in Kejimkujik National Park from 1988 to 1997. These reports found that low productivity and high blood mercury levels in the prey fish of the Common Loon were correlated. The Canadian Wildlife Service began their research again in 2006 and 2007. In 2008, the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute began using the Common Loon and its productivity to monitor 35 lakes within Kejimkujik and the surrounding region. Each year a team of researchers canoe 35 lakes, often with volunteers, to determine productivity. In addition to a research team, MTRI invites volunteers to participate in the LoonWatch program by monitoring the Common Loon productivity from May through August on a lake.  The data from researchers and volunteers is combined to provide a clearer picture of Common Loon productivity in Kejimkujik and surrounding regions.

As in 2013, the focus again in 2014 was on adult survivorship through re-sighting of loons that were banded by the Canadian Wildlife Service and the Biodiversity Research Institute.


If you have a lake and you would like to monitor for loons, consider becoming a LoonWatcher. To become a LoonWatcher, contact the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute and ask for a LoonWatch package for the lake you would like to monitor. Your LoonWatch package will provide you with a data sheet to fill in for the summer months along with a map of the lake you wish to monitor.

Check out the Common Loon Project mini-documentary that was created by MTRI Volunteer Camille Tedesco on the MTRI Youtube channel.  This short video provides an explanation of the ongoing research work for this project.




Project objectives




2014 Results


2013 Results

Photo Credit:  Colin Gray


Years of Data




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