Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute (MTRI) : Institut de recherche du Mersey Tobeatic

Atlantic Coastal Plain Flora Project


MTRI is a non-profit co-operative with a mandate to promote sustainable use of natural resources and biodiversity conservation in the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve and beyond through research, education, and the operation of a field station.

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Backyard Biodiversity

Backyard Biodiversity

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Atlantic Coastal Plain Flora (ACPF)

In 2010, the MTRI started working on a project to help fulfill the goals outlined in the Atlantic Coastal Plain Flora Recovery Strategy. This is a multi-year project that has three aspects: Science, Education and Stewardship. The project is funded by the Habitat Stewardship Program (HSP) and many partnering organizations. Check back for new details and the results of the first field season in the near future.


New ACPF Discoveries in 2011: by Alain Belliveau

Ever thought about how neat it would be to discover a native species for the first time in Nova Scotia, or even Canada? Believe it or not, even with all of the research and “stomping” around by experts and naturalists, new discoveries still happen! This year was a particularly good year for these discoveries.

In all, two species new to Canada were discovered and at least seven species were found in brand new areas in Nova Scotia. The discoveries were made possible by several ongoing research projects like Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute's (MTRI) Atlantic Coastal Plain Flora project, ACCDC’s Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre's (ACCDC) rare plant surveys, and also by keen naturalists paddling around on a good ol’ fashion canoe trip.


 Photo: Shingle Lake by Pat Hudson


In the rock barrens of Queens and Lunenburg counties, botanists from the ACCDC discovered an extremely rare plant: Blue curls, a member of the mint family. As the name suggests, the small plant has blue, curly flowers. In its eastern North American distribution range, it is often found in harsh barren habitat, and its rarity in Nova Scotia is an indicator of the open, dry, nutrient-deprived habitat in which it usually resides. Currently in Canada, this species is only known from one other location in southern Ontario.

Along the lower stretch of the Tusket River, botanists also discovered a coastal plain shrub called Maleberry. The species had only previously been found as far north as Maine. Neither it nor any cousin species are known to occur anywhere else in Canada. What a find! This significant discovery outlines the importance of looking for these rare species and examining these rare habitats: after all, how can we conserve and manage natural ecosystems sustainably if we are missing important pieces of the ecological puzzle? 

At least seven other species were found in new places within the province. Water-pennywort was found in a lake in the Tusket watershed, which extends its overall Canadian distribution from two lakes to three lakes. Tall Beakrush, which was found for the first time in all of Canada in 2009, was discovered in a second location, again in the Medway watershed. Tubercled Spike-rush was found for the first time in the Tusket watershed; it had previously only been found in the Barrington area and more recently in one small lake in the Medway watershed. Spotted Pondweed was found in several formerly undiscovered places in the Tusket watershed. New locations for Long’s Bulrush were recorded in the upper Medway watershed, and for the first time in the Mersey watershed in Kejimkujik National Park. Goldencrest was also discovered in a new site in the Medway watershed. Even a group of outlandish paddlers got in on the fun and found Southern Twayblade in two counties – Digby and Annapolis – that had previously not been known for this species.

All of the plants mentioned here are quite rare, and the last example just goes to show that anyone – with a bit of knowledge and a love for the outdoors – can make meaningful discoveries that help with the conservation of these species. If you’re physically fit, enjoy the outdoors, have a bit of spare time, why not spend a day or two with expert botanists in your area? Contact MTRI at 902-682-2371 or for more details on how to help while also learning from top-notch experts! Maybe you’ll be the one to make the next big discovery…


Lakeshore Owner of the Year Award

The Lakeshore Owner of the Year Award recognizes landowners for sharing their land with the plants and animals that also call Nova Scotia home. This award was created to highlight and recognize the landowners that are being stewards of their land and to inspire others to adopt similar practices. It was developed especially for a special group of plants called Atlantic Coastal Plain Flora (ACPF). This is a unique group of unrelated plants are mainly concentrated in southwest Nova Scotia along lakeshores, salt marshes and freshwater wetlands. They provide ecosystem services and indicate good water quality, both of which are very important to people and communities. There are over 90 species of ACPF in Nova Scotia and over 1/3 are found nowhere else in Canada! Almost half of these species are listed as ‘at risk’ or ‘sensitive’ by the NS General Status Ranks and need help to make sure they are not lost from this province. To learn more about ACPF please view the online field guide for ACPF in Nova Scotia by clicking here.

The Lakeshore Owner of the Year award recognizes landowners in the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve that are maintaining habitat for native species on their property. Actions that help include: maintaining the natural vegetation around lake shorelines and wetlands, reducing or eliminating lawns (especially on the lake side of the house/cottage), planting only appropriate native species, avoiding rock walls, raking, mowing or infilling the lake shoreline, and ensuring that the lake water quality is not impacted by excessive nutrients (which can result from fertilizers, bad septic systems, etc). Contestants will be evaluated on the actions they have taken to maintain the natural vegetation and water quality of their property. Once all the applicants are reviewed the top contestants will receive a site visit before the winner is selected.

Click here to enter using our online submission form


The winner of the Lakeshore Owner of the Year award will receive a plaque and an original painting of their property by local artist Jennifer McKinnon. Winners will also be recognized in an article and news release.

Individuals are encouraged to fill out a submission form for their own property or to nominate someone else who is a steward of their property.

Submissions are required by September 15th, 2011. 

To enter, fill out the online submission form or mail a hard copy to:

Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute

9 Mound Merritt Rd.

Kempt, Nova Scotia

B0T 1B0


 For more information please contact MTRI at 902-682-2371


Water Quality Monitoring by Volunteers

One of the main objectives of the ACPF project is to engage volunteers from local communities and teach them the skills and knowledge needed to become active participants in the scientific aspects of the project and learn more about ACPF in southwest Nova Scotia. There are many ways for volunteers to get involved in the ACPF project, one of which is the collection of water quality samples and data on lakes we have selected for sampling. The training workshops for water quality sampling in the 2011 season are past, but if you are interested in becoming a water quality volunteer, please contact us, we can always use more volunteers! 

If you are interested in learning about how we are monitoring water quality, have a look at our sampling protocol.