The data rescue intern: Nicole Lerminiau
The Turkey Lakes Watershed (TLW) Study was established in 1979 by several federal government departments (Natural Resources Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada) to study the impacts of acid rain on aquatic and forest ecosystems but has since expanded to include research on toxic contaminants, forest harvesting, habitat modification, and climate change. The Turkey Lakes Watershed is a mixed hardwood forest on the Canadian Shield, that covers an area of 10.5 km squared and drains into Lake Superior. It has been the focus of many interdisciplinary, whole-ecosystem studies on environmental issues.
Benthic invertebrates, or insects found at the bottom of waterbodies, play important roles in nutrient cycling and the food chain and can be key indicators of stream health. In 1995, a project within the TLW aimed to evaluate how stream ecosystems respond to tree harvesting, which involved long-term surveys of benthic invertebrate communities pre- and post-harvest. Three stream catchments (c31, c33, c34) were harvested at different intensities in the summer of 1997 and were compared to multiple undisturbed catchments. Alongside the invertebrate data, corresponding stream habitat surveys, streamside litterfall traps, leaf decomposition, deposition of stream particulate matter, and standing sediment bedload data were collected during the same period. The data were collected from 1995-2009 by researchers at the Canadian Forest Service (Great Lakes Forestry Centre).
The Living Data Project focuses on rescuing and standardizing legacy data, such as the TLW benthic survey data, into a comprehensive dataset that is accessible and preserved for the future. Like many datasets, the raw data were split by year, and multiple years of data collection resulted in various data formats and naming conventions. We developed metadata to ensure that future data users be able to easily understand how the data were collected. While initially the combined invertebrate count data appeared to have 350+ unique taxa, we refined this number to 93 taxa after correcting typos and merging columns. The final dataset contains an impressive 382,745 identified invertebrates which are classified primarily to genus level. PhD student Nicole Lerminiaux (University of Regina) worked alongside Research Scientist Erik Emilson (NRCan) with support from retired Research Scientist Dave Kreutzweiser (formerly NRCan) and Environmental Technician Scott Capell (NRCan) to rescue and restore the data.
This dataset is a rare and valuable resource because there are very few existing long-term datasets of benthic invertebrates from the same locations, and because this dataset can be integrated with other biological and chemical datasets associated with the TLW, which are available through the Open Government data repository. For an overview of other types of data available from the TLW, see:
And for a complete list of publications that have been produced from data collected at this site, see: