Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute (MTRI)

Brad Toms's Projects

Lichen

Boreal Felt Lichen, a rare cyanolichen, is an incredible organism formed from the partnership between fungi and cyanobacteria. Cyanolichens grow in the coastal forests of Nova Scotia and are at risk from air pollution and forestry. They are hard to find; this makes their distribution across Nova Scotia difficult to pinpoint. MTRI works with industry to investigate potential rare lichen habitat based on government satellite and aerial data. Since this project began, knowledge of Boreal Felt Lichen populations has increased greatly, and its continuation will be crucial to conserving Nova Scotian populations of this endangered species.  

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Bats

Hibernating bats used to fill the night skies of Nova Scotia, but in 2011 their populations dropped suddenly because of a new fungal disease, white-nose syndrome. Bats are crucial mammals in our native ecosystems and provide many services to our society. Each night they consume massive amounts of insects, pollinate flowers, and spread plant seeds. Since their decline, MTRI has been monitoring, researching and teaching Nova Scotians all about the wonders of bats. We also manage the Nova Scotia Bat Hotline and use this information to identify nesting colonies and work with the private landowners and partners to monitor these sites.

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Monarch Butterfly

It is a hard to find a more charismatic species than the mighty Monarch Butterfly. Every year this species migrates 5000km+ from its wintering grounds in Mexico to the US and Canada. Sadly, this world traveler is Endangered in Nova Scotia, and their population is declining. Many factors are behind this but the most significant are the widespread use of pesticides and the loss of their habitat. MTRI is a leader in Monarch engagement with the public; we organize the provincial butterfly club, teach schoolchildren about this and other native pollinators and supply native plants needed for Monarchs to survive, the Milkweed plant.   

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