Red backed newt

Salamanders: their natural history and our research

Salamanders belong to the Caudata order. Along with Anura (frogs) and Gymnophiona (caecilians), they belong to the Amphibian group (Bishop 1943). Salamanders are often confused with lizards because of their similar body form but they lack scales. Instead salamanders have moist glandular skin that is permeable to water and unlike frogs, they have tails and […]


Meet the Norway Maple (Acer platanoides)

Kingdom : Plantae Order: Sapindales Family: Sapindaceae Genus: Acer Species: A. plantanoides A species native to Europe, the Norway Maple (Acer platanoides) is a deciduous tree now commonly found throughout the St. Lawrence Lowlands, including McGill University’s Morgan Arboretum. In appearance, the Norway Maple is quite similar to other trees of the genus Acer, including […]


Pileated Woodpecker whereabouts in the Morgan Arboretum

Research Question In order to to investigate where the Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) is predominantly found within the Morgan Arboretum and whether they have a preference in area or tree they target, we asked ourselves the following question. “Is the Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) more active (excavate more trees) in certain parts of the Morgan […]

Spindle-shaped yellow coral (Clavulinopsis fusiformis)

Coral and Tooth Fungi

Tooth and coral fungi are both broad categories of taxonomic classification of fungi based on physical characteristics. In fact, years of observations have shown that species in these categories are not necessarily closely related. Coral fungi, or clavarioid fungi, have coral-like elongated structures. They are rather difficult to identify due to the resemblance between many […]

Natural history of White-tailed Deer

The Northern Woodland White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus ssp. borealis) is a species of deer found throughout Quebec, including the St. Lawrence Lowland region (Bernhardt et al. n.d.). Its name comes from the white underside of its tail, which can be seen when the deer is alarmed (Rue 2004). Within the St. Lawrence region, white-tailed deer […]

Left: Beech tree with Neonectria fungal colonization. Right: Beech tree with severe bark loss.

Beech Bark Disease in American Beech Trees (Fagus grandifolia)

Identification of an American beech tree (Fagus grandifolia): Beech trees can be found in upland areas of a mature deciduous forest. The identification of a beech tree can be done year round with the use of five criteria appearing continually or seasonally: Bark Beech trees stand out by their thin, smooth, grey bark. Leaf The […]

Figure 9) The amount of earthworms gathered in one of our holes

Distributions of earthworms in the Morgan Arboretum

With earthworms getting more attention as they make their way into once earthworm-free forests, it was surprising to find that there had been no past research done on the distribution of earthworms in the Morgan Arboretum. Due to the limited amount of time, we took this opportunity to target the St.Bernard soil series (one of […]

Sanguinaria canadensis: (L) leaves (C) root (R) yellowing leaves

Medicinal Plants

Medicinal plants have been used to treat an array of illnesses dating back thousands of years. It is not known exactly who discovered that plants have medicinal properties, but scriptures describing their uses, written around 3000 B.C. by the Egyptians and Ancient Chinese, have been discovered (Ehrlich 2013). Researchers have shown that, throughout time, indigenous cultures […]


Winter adaptations of the Black-Capped Chickadee in the St-Lawrence Lowlands

Black-capped Chickadees, Poecile atricapillus, are year round songbirds native to North America.3 Their habitat ranges from the Maritimes up to Alaska, covering 2/3 of Northern and Central United States.3,4. Living in flocks of four to twelve birds, Chickadees can be seen in different habitats such as orchards, deciduous and coniferous woodlands, cotton wood groves, parks […]

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Does location within the forest affect leaf colour change in Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)?

Acer saccharum, commonly known as the Sugar Maple, is a deciduous tree native to North America. Its genus ‘’acer’’ is latin for maple, and its species name ‘’saccharum’’ comes from the Greek word “sakcaron” meaning ‘’sweet juice distilled from bamboo’’ or simply ‘’sugar’’. (Acer saccharum 2013). This tree is probably most well known because its […]


Natural History of the St. Lawrence Lowlands

This blog is the result of a University class at McGill University, as part of the program in Environmental Biology.  One of the objectives of this course is to explore the natural history of the St Lawrence Lowlands, including forest ecosystems such as the Morgan Arboretum.   Different groups of students prepare and publish blog […]


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