Biodiversity inventories

In June, July and August 2011, Renaissance Brome Lake coordinated three biodiversity inventories. These studies, carried out with the most knowledgeable specialists in Quebec in the particular fields, sought to better know the range of wildlife inhabiting the wetlands along the lake, to better justify their protection, notably through the creation of named eco-zones to then identify them in the zoning plan and thereby ensuring their complete protection. What follows is a brief summary of the three inventory reports which were prepared. They may be consulted in the section “Documentation Centre”.

Ornithological inventory:

The inventory of the avian fauna was carried out during the reproduction period for most birds, that is between June 7 and 9, 2011 inclusively. Biologist François Morneau was responsible for leading the study and identifying the birds, notably by their chants and distinctive cries. By moving slowly in a canoe through eight wetlands, the birds which were observed or heard within a radius of 75 metres were noted. The recording and replaying of chants with a tape recorder also helped detect the presence of aquatic birds such as the   Least Bittern and Water Rale. 

In total, 53 species of birds were recorded and duly noted across the eight wetlands. Of this number, 12 are attributable to the Anatidae and aquatic birds grouping, one only to the birds of prey category and 40 to the major grouping including songbirds and other land birds. Most of these species (50) were classified as nesting birds.   

The Anatidae (geese and ducks) and aquatic birds

Five species of Anatidae were identified: Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Mallard, Hooded Merganser and Common Loon. With regard to aquatic birds the following species were observed: American Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Virginia Rale, Wilson's Snipe, Ring-billed Gull and the Belted Kingfisher. 

Birds of prey

The only bird of prey observed was the Osprey in Coldbrook stream.

Songbirds and land birds

This important group of birds unites several species of Woodpeckers (4), Eastern Kingbird (4), Flycatchers (2) Vireos (2), Swallows, Wood Warblers (5), Sparrows (2), etc. (See report for the complete list of species). Two male Wren Marshes were heard in Coldbrook stream. This relatively rare bird in the Townships prefers the cattail marsh as a habitat.

Breakdown of the avian diversity throughout the wetlands

All the Brome Lake wetlands have shown a great diversity of bird species. They are of great value to the avian fauna which find nesting, feeding and resting habitats in these areas. The Quilliams and Coldbrook waterways have revealed a most interesting diversity with respectively 37 and 33 species of birds. The protection of the wetlands around the lake is essential if these valuable species are not to disappear locally.

Reptile inventory including amphibians:

The inventory of amphibians and reptiles was carried out on June 20 and 21 and August 1 and 2, 2011 by biologist Patrick Galois. Several streams and brooks were traversed by  canoe or on foot, when feasible, as well as the heads of waterways, to search and listen for the reproduction sounds of Anurans (frogs, tree frogs and toads) during the evening.  In addition, an effort was made to identify reproduction sites for the Anurans and the egg laying sites for turtles.

Twelve herpetological species were confirmed by this inventory. Of this number we count five species of Anurans, three of salamanders, one of snakes and two types of turtles.    These animals were observed and/or heard over a period of four days in eight inventory stations around Brome Lake (brooks, wetlands, rivers). Of these amphibian and reptile species, two are considered to be endangered to some degree. The Northern Dusky Salamander is considered to be “threatened” by the government of Quebec and the Common Snapping Turtle was put on the list by the federal government (COSEWIC) in 2011 as being of “special concern.”

Amphibians (Anurans and Urodeles ):

Anurans and Urodeles (salamanders, mud puppies and newts) are represented in Quebec by 11 and 10 species respectively. The Brome Lake inventory confirmed the presence of seven well dispersed Anurans (except for Inverness brook) throughout the various wetland areas: American Toad, Wood Frog, Mink Frog, Leopard Frog, Green Frog, Riparian Frog and Hyla Versicolor. In addition, it was possible to identify several reproduction sites for Anurans in the wetlands.

As far as the Urodeles are concerned, three species were spotted: the Northern Two-Lined Salamander, the Eastern Redback Salamander and the Northern Dusky Salamander.
Reptiles (Testudines and Squamates):

There are nine species of Testudines (or turtles) in Quebec. One of these, the Common Snapping Turtle was found throughout the wetland areas except for Argyll brook and the McPherson filtering marsh. The only other species observed  was the Painted Turtle in the mouth of the Yamaska River and in the Pearson and Quilliams waterways. Traces of egg laying were also observed near certain water courses.

Regarding the Squamates (or serpents and lizards), they are represented by eight serpants in Quebec and no lizards. The Brome Lake study unearthed a single species, the Common Garter Snake along the Yamaska River.

Breakdown of the herpetofaunic diversity across the wetlands

All the Brome Lake wetlands are essential in ensuring the presence of the permanent habitats needed to fully complete the biological cycles of the reptiles and amphibians. The Yamaska River and Pearson and Quilliams brooks have revealed a rich biodiversity with more than eight species of reptiles and amphibians.

For the amphibians, the wetlands represent essential sites for food, hibernation and rest, but also serve as aquatic refuges and, sometimes, in the case of certain species, as  reproduction sites. The researchers agree that a mosaic of inter-related wetlands such as those found around Brome Lake is fundamental to the the long-term maintenance of these animals (see report). Protection measures, such as a shoreline buffer zone included in a protection zone of land habitats are published and recommended by researchers in order to protect these fragile animals from disruptions in their life environment.

Ichtyological inventory: (fish)

This particular inventory took place between June 27 and 30, 2011 inclusively. Biologists  Isabelle Picard and Jean-François Desroches visited six wetlands around Brome Lake. The objective of the inventory was to determine the species of fish present, those with a particular status and the ecological value of the wetlands for conservation purposes. In general, the waterways were visited by canoe. This method of navigation helped to set such fish traps as hoop nets, cages, seines and weirs. The habitats were characterized by the taking of physical and chemical data.

In total, 17 species of fish were captured and identified for the majority of species, which reflects a solid diversity. Two particular species held the attention of the biologists. They are the Bridle Shiner and the Pickerel. Both these fish are considered to be endangered in Quebec. In fact the Shiner is considered to be very vulnerable while the Pickerel is in a “threatened” category according to the ministry's (MRNF) 2011 assessment.

The species which were best represented are the Pickerel, the Sunfish (pond perch) and the Yellow Perch. Following closely behind are the Small Mouth Bass and the Golden Shiner. Apart from the latter, all are considered to be fish in the recreation category in Quebec.  This is the same for the Brown Bullhead which was also found in two of the Brome Lake wetlands. The number of species of fish found from one wetland to another varied very little, from 6 to 9. 
The Baie des Colibris was closely monitored by the biologists because of the fact that it probably constitutes an important stocking and growth area for several of the Brome Lake fish species. Hundreds of young fish were captured. Young Chain Pickerel, on the threatened list, were found in great numbers here. The results of the inventory show that  Baie des Colibris is certainly and exceptional yet fragile sanctuary and this habitat and the diversity of fish species and their ability to replenish themselves is threatened by the regular presence of motorized watercraft. The biologists recommended the protection of this bay in the same spirit and reasoning as the entire network of Brome Lake wetlands because of their potential as reproduction and stocking sites for several species of fish.

While relatively small in terms of its overall surface and having been disrupted in the past by various landfill situations, the Inverness marsh also displayed an exceptional reproduction potential. Hundreds of young Perch, White Suckers and Small Mouth Bass were captured with the help of a small seine. Quilliams Brook also showed strong potential, notably with an abundant population of young Chain Pickerel.

Renaissance Brome Lake would like to thank all its partners who contributed to the success of these inventories and especially Ville de Lac-Brome for its financial support.