Canadian Lakes Loon Survey

Birds Canada

Project name: Canadian Lakes Loon Survey

Goals : To help conserve loons by engaging participants in monitoring and education activities, and use loon productivity as a long-term indicator of the health of freshwater lakes.

Dataset summary : Participant-chosen lake surveys (or sections of larger lakes) focused on measuring the number of six-week-old young produced by breeding Common Loons.

Status : Active

Year started : 1981

Years (comments) : ongoing

Season(s) and frequency : minimum of 3 visits (monthly in June, July and August)

Frequency : Monthly

Geographic area covered : Primarily southern half of most Canadian provinces where accessible by lake residents or cottagers.

Type(s) of habitat : Freshwater lakes

Primary species covered : Common Loon (Gavia immer)

Sampling Design : User-selected lakes; some lakes part of Environment Canada's Long range transport of airborne pollutants project

Field methods : Observers make a minimum of three visits to lakes; June to record nesting activity of loon; July to determine numbers of chicks hatched; August to determine numbers of chicks fledged. Numbers of loon pairs and number and age/size class of chicks recorded. Measures made of potential human disturbance such as water level fluctuations, shoreline development and monthly ratings of human activity.

Analysis methods : The number of six-week-old young per pair per year is estimated using generalized linear mixed models with log-link functions, assuming Poisson distributions. Typically, models include the following covariates: year as factor, longitude, log lake area, and a random effect of lake. All continuous covariates are standardized prior to analysis to have a mean of zero and a standard deviation of one. Smoothers are plotted through annual indices to visualize patterns and trends are calculated based on a simple regression fit through the annual indices.

Data format : SQL Server data base, Accessed by BSC Staff and LRTAP scientiests, some availablility on wildspace; data will soon be available on line

Data validation : Lake and lake sections are accurately geo-referenced using the Canadian Geonames database as the main reference source. Data are reviewed by staff knowledgable in the ecology and behaviour of loons, all electronic data is checked against paper data.

Data entry methods : Surveyors have the choice of submitting their observations to Birds Canada on paper or entering them online at Birds Canada's website.

Sample size : Over 4000 lakes have been surveyed across Canada with more than 15000 surveys conducted since 1981, on average of 690 surveys are conducted each year.

Results : Reports and publications are available on line at Data is available if formally requested from BSC (BSC approval required).

Trends and time series availability : Yes

Publications : Jones, K.E. and S.T.A. Timmermans. 2007. Common Loon, pp. 140-141 in Cadman, M.D., D.A. Sutherland, G.G. Beck, D. Lepage, and A.R. Couturier (eds.). Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario, 2001-2005. Birds Canada, Environment Canada, Ontario Field Ornithologists, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and Ontario Nature, Toronto, xxii + 706 pp.. Badzinski, S.S. & S. T. A Timmermans. 2006. Factors influencing productivity of common loons breeding on circumneutral lakes in Nova Scotia, Canada. Hydrobiologia (2006), 567: 215-226. Champoux, L., D.C. Masse, D. Evers, O.P. Lane, M. Plante & S.T.A. Timmermans. 2006. Assessment of mercury exposure and potential effects on common loons (Gavia immer) in Qu├ębec. Hydrobiologia (2006) 567:263-274. Timmermans, S.T.A., G.E. Craigie, and K.E. Jones. 2004. Common Loon (Gavia immer) pairs rear four-chick broods. Wilson Bulletin 116: 97-101. Timmermans, S. 2003 Canadian Lakes Loon Survey: Higher productivity shown among western loons. Wildlife Watchers 9. NP_PUBL Birds Canada. 2002 The State of Nova Scotia's Loons: A Decade-Long View from the Canadian Lakes Loon Survey. Birds Canada, Port Rowan, ON. 4pp. TECHREPORT Scheuhammer, A.M., Perrault, J.A., and D.E. Bond. 2001 Mercury, methylmercury, and selenium concentrations in eggs of Common Loons (Gavia immer) from Canada. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 72:79-94. PR_PUBL Jones, K 2001 Report on the assimilation of the Ontario portion of the 1998 and 1999 Canadian Lakes Loon Survey data. Unpubl. Rept. to CWS-Ontario Region. 12pp. TECHREPORT Bowman, J., Kirk, D.A. and J. McCracken 2001 Temporal patterns in reproductive success of Common Loons in Nova Scotia, 1988-1999 Unpub. Rept. to CWS-Atlantic Region (draft). 26pp. TECHREPORT Weeber, R.C 1999 Temporal Patterns in Breeding Success of Common Loons in Ontario, 1981 1997. Unpublished report by Birds Canada to Canadian Wildlife Service, Ontario Region. TECHREPORT Collins, C 1999 Why the Common Loon reigns supreme in the hearts of cottagers Cottage Life 12(1):48-56. NP_PUBL

Funding sources : Volunteers provide 70% funding, also Canadian Wildlife Service, Ontario Wildlife Foundation; Shell Environmental Fund, The Ontario Trillium Foundation; The Millinium Fund

Applications for the data : Local citizens and lake associations are using CLLS data to help understand and maintain lakes, regional governments and others are making use of CLLS data for planning and lake monitoring, and federal governments and others are making use of CLLS data to help assess the health of Lakes with special emphasis on the impact of acid rain.

Users of the information : Research biologists assessing temporal changes in loon populations in response to anthropogenic factors

Environmental assessment : Common Loons are used as a potential indicator of lake health in Environment Canada's Long Range Transport of Air Pollutants (LRTAP) Biomonitoring program. Understanding temporal patterns in loon breeding success may provide information